Mike and I were in Los Angeles for the Democratic Convention last March, and decided to give Mo-Chica a try for lunch. We both like Peruvian food and were excited to see what this restaurant could do. With the right expectations, I think Mo-Chica would have been a great experience. Alas, our expectations were to quench our hunger without having to mortgage our home, and that is not quite possible here. Still, the food was very nicely presented and interesting and I appreciated the experience.
Mike and I started with the tiradito de seabass. The thin slices of cold seabass (maybe 8 or so) came beautifully presented in a long plate decorated with the aji amarillo sauce. You would never have guessed from the delicate look of the dish just how bursting in flavor it’d be. It did get boring after a while, so this is definitely a dish to share. And it’s all about the flavor, there is almost no substance to the dish.
As our main dishes, we ordered the carapulcra (“Peruvian sun dried potato stew, crispy pork belly, peanuts, chimichurri”, $14) and the Estofado de alpaca (“Braised alpaca, tagliatelle, aji amarillo sauce, fried organic egg”, $15). I’d had llama in Argentina, but I figured alpaca wasn’t exactly the same, so I might as well add it to my list of meats I’ve tried. I can do that now, but as the alpaca meat was cut into extremely small pieces, and its flavor was covered by the rest of the stew, I can’t quite say I know what it tastes like. I can imagine, that’s probably the point. There must be a reason why llamas and alpacas are pretty much only served in restaurants catering to tourists in their home regions.
In any case, both dishes were very good, they had distinct and pleasant flavors and I enjoyed them. Neither, however, was a show stopper. The presentation and novelty, rather than the taste, is what justified their absurd prices for lunch. They also weren’t particularly generous portions. Mike, in particular, who had been less enthusiastic about the food and had let me had the lion’s share, left hungry.
The restaurant itself looks too casual to justify its prices. It’s more of a hipster place, and I would perhaps not have minded it so much for dinner, where a larger meal at a larger expense might seem justified.
Needless to say I won’t be going back, but I’m glad I tried it.
514 W 7th St
Los Angeles, CA