Heading downtown for Chimu Peruvian Soul Food!

At the foot of Angel’s Flight (next to the Grand Central Market) – where the modern downtown LA meets the historic part of LA – you’ll find Chef Mario Alberto Orellana’s newest Peruvian eatery: Chimu Peruvian Soul Food. I’ve been to his other restaurants that he’s worked at in the area, Mo Chica and Lazy Ox Canteen, but I think this fast take-out place may be my favorite of the three. Read on and you’ll see why.

Chimu Peruvian Soul Food opened over the summer to some great reviews. One of the members of my brunch club told us about it and we made a trek there on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

So what is Peruvian soul food? I asked the guy at the order window and he said it’s everyday Peruvian food that you’d eat with the family if you lived in Peru. After one bite, I admit I could eat Peruvian soul food everyday!

The menu is written on a chalkboard so I assume it can change but here’s what was being served on the day we went:

I ordered the lomo saltado – a typical Peruvian dish that is Asian inspired. It’s marinated beef, onions, and tomatoes with a hint of soy sauce served over frites and with a side of white rice and the traditional aji sauce.

The beef was juicy and had the right amount of marination. It was cooked perfectly! Here’s the vegetarian version that my friend, Jin, ordered…

My other brunch companion, Gregory, ordered the seco de cordero (lamb belly) and he was kind enough to share with us.

Lamb is pretty tricky to cook. Sometimes it can come out really gamey but not this dish. You could taste the flavor of the lamb meat but it was seasoned well and was not over-cooked – definitely rich in flavor.

I’ve only been here once and I’m already planning on what I want to eat next time I go back – I think that’s a good sign, right?

Note: It is a walk-up window but you do have a lovely outdoor space to eat at. Check out the view we had:

** UPDATE: Chimu is now CLOSED. I went there on Nov 1 and signs were gone and somebody who worked for the property said Chimu closed their doors but Silverlake’s Local will be opening there in a week. Restaurant business is rough! **

 

Eating up your time at Mo-Chica

I sometimes wonder how long I would wait for a good meal. 10 minutes? 30 minutes? An hour? I was certainly put to this test when I met my friends at the Peruvian restaurant Mo-Chica. I figured we would be seated within 20 to 30 minutes. That seemed reasonable on a Saturday night for a place that’s out of the way. Mo-Chica located in the Mercado La Paloma which is closer to a food court than an intimate restaurant. It’s not close to a strip of restaurants where foodies flock to on the weekends but the foodies will trek here for the good eats. By the way, if this place sounds familiar, it’s probably because it’s been generously reviewed by  Jonathan Gold in the past.

Since we waited over an hour, we decided to order three different appetizers to share. We started with the ceviche which was my favorite of the three. They serve the fish of the day with seaweed, hominy, toasted corn nuts. The creamy texture and the warm heat from the spice paired well with the cool fish and hominy.

Here’s the Papa a La Huancaina that’s basically boiled potatoes drenched in aji amarillo sauce. It’s a simple dish but really tasty thanks to the sauce.

The Causa del Dia was probably my least favorite of the three appetizers. It’s basically a crab meat and potatoes. I liked the presentation but it was under-seasoned.

On to the main dishes… I made the mistake of ordering the Arroz con Mariscos. I saw the dish coming out for someone else and was immediately taken by the color. It looked like paella so I was easily swayed to order the dish. Unfortunately, the rice was mushy, shrimp was rubbery, and the seafood didn’t taste too fresh – it had a very fishy smell. At least the photo looks nice…

My friends had the common sense not to order what I did. A few of them ordered the tastiest dish of the night: Oxtail Risotto. The meat just fell off the bone and the creamy risotto wasn’t mushy – it had flavor and complimented the meat. I would have been a happy customer if this was the only option they gave for a main dish.

We did order the tres leches cake three separate times but to no avail. The wait staff had a hard time fulfilling everyone’s order in a timely matter (we asked for our water to be filled three times too!). In the end, we were tired of waiting for dessert and waiting for our water to be refilled and asked for our check. Including the time we had to wait for our table, the wait for our food, the wait for our dessert that never came, and our bill, we spent over 3 hours at Mo-Chica.

Was it worth it? Not quite but I’d be willing to give it a try again – perhaps on a weekday at a more obscure hour and an order of the Oxtail Risotto.