Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ceviche Nights (Los Angeles, CA)

Ceviche Nights at Mo-Chica
514 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
cevichenights.eventbrite.com
Sun 12/16/2012, 06:30p-08:45p




Mo-Chica Exterior

Without a doubt, one of the most anticipated openings of early 2013 is that of Paiche in Marina del Rey, a new ceviche- and seafood-focused Peruvian concept from Ricardo Zarate and partner Stephane Bombet, the duo behind Mo-Chica and Picca. In preparation for the launch, they've collaborated with Josh Lurie of Food GPS to host a series of "Ceviche Nights" events, wherein some of LA's most vaunted chefs join forces to present their own twists on the Peruvian staple. The first night featured an all-uni spectacle with Josiah Citrin of Melisse and Matt Biancaniello on cocktails. Tonight, Zarate was joined by Bryant Ng (The Spice Table) and Kris Yenbamroong (Night+Market), along with Short Cake's Hourie Sahakian on dessert duty.

Ceviche Nights Menu Ceviche Nights Drink Menu
The seven-course Ceviche Nights menu was priced at a reasonable $75pp, inclusive of tax and tip, with 10% of the proceeds going toward the American Red Cross' Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. To drink, a Firestone Walker beer pairing was on offer for a mere $16, and Deysi Alvarez had six cocktails for us to choose from as well. Click for larger versions.

She Bang Bang
She Bang Bang [$12.00] | Esoplon Blanco, Campari, Fresh Raspberries, Fresh Lemon Juice, Homemade Ginger Syrup, Organic Agave Nectar
In lieu of the beer pairings, I decided to do cocktails instead. The She Bang Bang was quite nice, with the bittersweet taste of Campari and raspberry coming through initially, then transitioning to a boozy midpalate accented by blasts of piquancy from the lemon and ginger. Loved the salty finish from the rim, too.

Raw Scallop, Chiles, Scallions, Sesame, Dried Scallop Congee
1: Raw Scallop, Chiles, Scallions, Sesame, Dried Scallop Congee {Bryant Ng}
The Spice Table's Bryant Ng got things off to a strong start. A medallion of scallop was spot on: supple and saline, with a fantastic counterpoint and crunch in the form of the slivers of scallion, while the chile added a lovely trace of heat that lingered on and on. The congee, meanwhile, was even better, a hearty, satisfying potage with a rather profound amount of umami goodness and just a touch of creeping spice. It was something that I wanted to eat a big bowl of.

Ceviche De Conchas De Navaja ala Parilla / Grilled Razor Clams Ceviche, Aji Amarillo Dressing
2: Ceviche De Conchas De Navaja ala Parilla / Grilled Razor Clams Ceviche, Aji Amarillo Dressing {Ricardo Zarate}
Zarate's razor clam was on point as well. Its texture was wonderfully snappy, yet tender, and I thoroughly enjoyed how the clam's brine was enhanced by the simultaneously savory yet tangy weight of the aji amarillo. I even appreciated the additional ocean-y goodness provided by the bed of seaweed underneath.

Nam Kao Tod / Crispy Rice Salad, Fermented Pork, Oysters, Raw Ginger, Onion, Bird Eye Chile, Peanuts by Kris
3: Nam Kao Tod / Crispy Rice Salad, Fermented Pork, Oysters, Raw Ginger, Onion, Bird Eye Chile, Peanuts by Kris {Kris Yenbamroong}
The nam kao tod is a favorite dish of mine at my local go-to Thai place, Renu Nakorn, and the version here from Night+Market's Kris Yenbamroong didn't disappoint either. It was a beautiful mélange of differing textures and tastes, with lovely overtones of ginger and citrus over a base of delightfully crisp rice and a growing, ferocious heat that got me glistening. The oyster, meanwhile, contributed a weighty salinity to the dish, adding a further point of focus and complexity.

Suavecito
Suavecito [$12.00] | Cava, Fresh Mint, Angostura Bitters, Fresh Lime Juice, Garnished w/ Mint Leaf
The Suavecito was an apéritif-like cocktail with the dry attack of cava shining through, moderated by a subtle fruitiness and an overarching hint of mint.

Prawn Ceviche, Peanut Sambal, Onion, Tomato, Crackers & Crispy Cereal Prawn Head
4: Prawn Ceviche, Peanut Sambal, Onion, Tomato, Crackers & Crispy Cereal Prawn Head (Cereal, Salted Egg Yolk, Curry Leaf) {Bryant Ng}
Chopped prawn had a firm, yet pliant consistency, with a delicate sweetness that paired well with its tangy tomato-based dressing. As for the head, it was delish, with the inherent salinity of the prawn melding well with the crunchy, nutty sweetness of the cereal.

Koi Wua - Isan / Beef Ceviche, Roasted Chile & Rice Powder
5: Koi Wua - Isan / Beef Ceviche, Roasted Chile & Rice Powder {Kris Yenbamroong}
The koi wua was rather nice as well, with a beefy base deftly perked up by the fragrant herbs and peppers interspersed within. The key here, though, was the rice powder, which altered the mouthfeel of the dish, and also served as a keen moderating element in the course. Lovely crunch and lightness from the veggies, too.

Cumin to America
Cumin to America [$11.00] | Fortaleza Tequila Blanco, Campari, Fresh Lemon Juice, Cumin Simple, Garnished w/ Lemon Peel
My favorite cocktail tonight was the Cumin to America, with its delectably sweet, spicy body and undercurrent of sour lemon. Beautifully integrated.

Ceviche De Pato Con Tacu Tacu De Pallares / Duck Confit in Hot Ceviche Stew & Pallares Tacu Tacu
6: Ceviche De Pato Con Tacu Tacu De Pallares / Duck Confit in Hot Ceviche Stew & Pallares Tacu Tacu {Ricardo Zarate}
Zarate returned with the last savory course, and one of the most intensely flavored preparations of duck that I've ever had. The bird had a superbly crisp crust, showing off a pretty incredible depth, and was gorgeously set off by a bevy of citrus-y and herb-y nuances. At the same time, the lima beans served as a hearty complement to the course, grounding the dish perfectly.

Cranberry Pear Pie with Buttermilk Ice Cream & Bourbon Caramel Sauce
7: Cranberry Pear Pie with Buttermilk Ice Cream & Bourbon Caramel Sauce {Hourie Sahakian}
Dessert came courtesy of Short Order's Hourie Sahakian, and was delicious as well. The combined sweetness of the berry and pear made sense together, and was nicely enhanced by the dark, sugary weight of the caramel, all while the ice cream added a cool, creamy counterweight to the course. Effective and traditional in essence, though I would've liked to have seen some more ceviche influence.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect coming into this, but the chefs actually pulled off a strong meal overall. I don't think all of the dishes quite qualified as ceviche per se, rather being more along the lines of ceviche-inspired, but I definitely appreciated the various riffs on the Peruvian classic. Given the success of the series, plans are to continue the dinners through early 2013, still held here at Mo-Chica, with a different group of local chefs. Paiche, meanwhile, is also set to open in the first quarter, and I think a neat idea might be to feature "guest ceviches" on the menu, crafted by a rotating selection of Zarate's colleagues.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Food GPS said...

Kevin,

Glad to read you had such a good Ceviche Nights experience. Thanks for attending and sharing your thoughts.

Sunday, January 06, 2013 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Johnny L. said...

Ceviche isn't soley adherent to fish cooked in acid but rather like how a salad isn't just some dressed greens. Ceviche is a technique like risotto and just implies marinating/cooking in with something like citrus or vinegar almost like pickling.

Sunday, January 06, 2013 8:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't write so good. Epicuryan much better site.

Thursday, January 10, 2013 7:11:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Josh: Thanks for setting it up. Still planning to continue the series in 2013?

Johnny: Can you point to anything backing up that claim? That almost sounds like escabeche.

Anon: Please, even he wouldn't agree with that.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 6:51:00 PM  

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