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Dinner at Mochica (Peruvian)

Had a very nice dinner at Mochica tonight. It's very comfortable inside - with the warmth of the red walls and lots of artwork on the walls. Our waitress was very helpful and enthusiastic - giving us a good recommendations and chatting with us about our recent trip to Peru. The free dish of garabanzos was very savory and a great way to get things started. The passionfruit drink (maracuya) was refreshing. Followed with the ceviche sampler: ceviche mochica.... a trio of ceviche with peruvian corn and potato....the halibut had a nice briny sweetness to it....the three varieties were not radically different but that didn't stop us from enjoying this dish. I had the Pescado a lo Macho - halibut with a seafood tomato sauce (mussels, shrimp, squid...) with a side of rice. The seared tuna entree was one of the best versions of this dish ever - a good sear had embued it with a nice smoky flavor. It came with a rice cake, fried plantains, lentils and some aoli. Portions were ample - maybe even large enough to share. All the dishes were very well seasoned. We were seated near a large group that was a bit boisterous but they quieted down once they got their food. Would definitely go back.

Mochica. 937 Harrison St. SF 415. 278-0480

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  1. I totally agree with you. I love Mochica! Went there on Saturday evening (just walked in at 7 with no reserve) and had a lovely experience as well, and the food was fabulous as ever, this being my 4th visit. The Ceviche Mixto with shrimp, octopus, squid was excellent and meal size. I like their ceviches best of all that I have had in S.F.They are so fresh, extremely limey with just the right amount of hot, and the accompanying corn (chucho) and sweet potato is divine, provides the perfect balance. My dining companion had the Ceviche Pescado and agreed with you, well seasoned, lively flavors, fresh and generous.

    We started out with a beet, corn and cheese salad (ensalada peruana) and a chile soup (special) that were both spectaular. Also sampled two Spanish red wines by the glass that had us swooning. Moderate prices, lovely warm service and atmosphere, tasty food. Go there!

    1. I love this place too. Environment is very warm, as every one has said. And the fish is really really good. The halibut in particular, also that beet, corn and cheese salad as above, and the Argentinian red wine...

      1. I was not so pleased with Mochica tonight [first time].
        The hostess/waitress was friendly enough and they were
        unbusy, so I didnt notice any real issue with slow or
        inattentive service some others reported. So no complaints
        in that dept.

        The food also was decent, but I thought it really was
        quite overpriced. 6 shrimp and cheese "wonton" for $10
        seemed pretty stiff ... although they were pretty good.

        The pisco sour at $9 also seemed rather pricey. Do they
        use some kind of highend pisco or something?

        My associate got the seafood paella ... which looked
        pretty good. He was slightly annoyed because he asked
        some questions about the ingredients [not due to pickiness
        but medical restrictions] and the waitress got the details
        wrong so he had to pick some stuff out of the dish.

        I got the squid stuff with chorizo ... I think I got
        5 of them on a skewer which came on top of a pile of
        lettuce, half an egg and some cold potato. The squid
        was decent, I really liked the cold potato ... but too
        little of the interesting stuff .. mostly lettuce.
        I think that was ~$18, which seemed ridiculous to me.

        So when the bill is $66 for 2 people with 1 split appetizer,
        no dessert, before tip ... I just cant recommend that with
        all the other SF options in a comparable price range ...
        maybe if you are spefically looking for a goo standard
        peruvian place, but not if you are looking for a good meal
        for $40-$45 ... go to Blue Plate.

        Oh this was interesting ... I was checking my voice mail
        sitting in my car outside the restaurant after dinner when
        this dood comes running by super fast ... and then all of a
        sudden 3, then 4, then 5 guys pop out of the restaurant.
        Apparently this guy walked into the restaurant, grabbed a
        woman's purse, then jammed. But the dumbass ran into
        the deadend alley next door. He dropped the bag, so the
        other guys decided not to give him a beating or capture
        him. Anyway, maybe a neighborhood to be slightly careful
        in when nobody is around ... at least parking is easy.

        2 Replies
        1. re: psb

          I've never gotten out of Blue Plate for $40 - $45...in particular Blue Plate's wine list is heavy on higher end bottles, IMO, so I wouldn't consider it as a bargain alternative to Mochica (totally apart from the issue of the food being very different of course).

          1. re: susancinsf

            Well if you want to do the accounting more precisely for
            Mochica, it would have been about $38 per person, with
            one appetizer for two, no dessert, and one drink [so not
            comparable to getting a bottle of wine]. If we'd "gone all
            the way", we'd essentially be in BP range ... add $7 for a
            dessert, add another $5 per person for another appetizer.

            I believe the giant romaine BLT appetize is $9 at BP ...
            that a much, much better deal than the $10 6wonton item
            at Mochica.

            At $38 at mochica, i left more or less hungry ... and lean
            enough to chase downa bag theif. After BP, I was moaning
            with pleasure during the meal and with fullness after.

        2. Prices have definitely gone up at Mochica over the last year or so, it's no longer quite the bargain it used to be. But when I ate there a few weeks ago, I still had a very good meal. My favorite dish as usual was the beef heart anticuchos, by far the best rendition of this dish I've had anywhere. The ceviche Mochica, which has three slightly different halibut ceviches on the plate (yellow, green and red, which I believe are Aji Amarillo, cilantro and Rocoto respectively) was stellar as well. We didn't order the chicharrones this time, but they were always great on past visits.

          The entrees were good but not outstanding, I think the strength of the menu lies in the appetizers. We had the Lengua Envuelto (halibut wrapped in a banana leaf and baked) and the Lomo Saltado, which was better than the last time I had ordered it there. The wine list has also improved, though it's still not great.

          By the way, when chatting with the chef after dinner, he mentioned that he's planning to open a Peruvian Tapas place in Bernal Heights soon. Something to look forward to for Mochica fans.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Malik

            According to the Chron, this is the place that will open up in the old Moki's space on Cortland. and it will have a patio! (the article implied that Moki's had one, though I never knew that, but apparently it has been expanded).

            I am looking forward to this indeed: ceviche in walking distance from home...

          2. How does Mochica compare to Limon? We went to Peru in May and have been searching for good Peruvian food ever since, particularly good ceviches and the raw fish with creamy sauce (as opposed to lime-based ceviches).

            2 Replies
            1. re: Maple

              I think the lime-based ceviches are better at Mochica, but Limon's are quite good nonetheless. Mochica no longer has any creamy ceviches (they used to have a ceviche in crema de rocoto). Limon has creamy ceviches, I didn't like them when I tried them a couple of months ago. Note that I don't see them anymore on their online menu, so they may have stopped serving them as well.

              The lomo saltado used to be a lot better at Limon than at Mochica, but the one at Mochica has been getting better, and the one at Limon worse, so they're pretty close now. The Picante de Mariscos was one of my favorite entrees at Limon, but they don't seem to make it anymore.

              At Mochica, the problem is that the menu is fairly large, and some of the dishes are not great, so it's quite possible to end up having an underwhelming meal if you order the wrong things. I posted my favorite dishes above, though there's other dishes I've enjoyed there, plus I haven't tried everything on the menu.

              1. re: Malik

                It's good to know that there are some great dishes interspersed with bad dishes. That must have been the problem when I went there with 3 friends, so none of us were impressed. The dishes were heavily reliant upon gooey starchy components that did not add much to the dish.

                In light of these recommendations, I'll have to give it another try. Thanks!