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Puro Sabor vs. Mario's, Peruvian

Thi N. Jul 29, 2008 03:24 PM

Thanks to the beautiful, worthy hounds who suggested Puro Sabor - Peruvian in the Valley. It was shockingly, gorgeously, beautifully good.

Others have claimed it is far better than Mario's. I disagree - I think they're on an even plane, with different excellences.

First of all: bread and aji. Best bread and aji ever. The bread is hot, and has that weird crumbly-dusty crispiness that's sort of fetishized in Chinese pastry baking. It's the best aji-support ever.

Purple corn drink: shocking. Kind of electric, energetic, and about 15 bizarre flavors. Of the purple corn drinks I've had in town (Pollo a la Brasa's, and Natalee's all come to mind as excellent exemplars), this is my favorite - mysterious, dense, and almost chewy with low spice throbbing.

Fried seafood platter: exceedingly good. Puro's batter is denser and more intensely spiced, Mario's is lighter and crisper and more shattering. I think the Puro's batter is a better feat of cooking wizardry, but Mario's got a better touch with the seafood - their calamari comes out with that perfect, edge of melting, tender, just-barely-cooked thing every time. Mario's shrimp and calamari taste a little fresher to me, too.

Plantains: Puro's has the best fried plantains in town. Period. I think I may have had fried plantains at over a hundred places. Puro's win. Somebody buy them a championship belt or something.

Fried yucca: a few pieces came with the fried seafood platter. Very, very well-fried - with that full-oil-permeation-crispiness that some of you double-fried french fry people get all into. For fried cassava, Atlacatl is my favorite for pure cassava flavor, but Puro's gets the Best Frying Technique Honorable Mention.

Saltado - beautiful fries. Excellent saltado. I think I like Mario's saltado a little more - Mario's has this spicing-sauce wizardry, and the saltado gets magically tied together with some soy-and-spice force-lines. Puro Sabor's is more direct - meat, fries, a little sauce, pure. Mario's has more mysterious energetic depth.

I love Puro.

Thank you, Chowhounds.

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  1. lil mikey RE: Thi N. Jul 30, 2008 06:39 AM

    I had lunch yesterday at Los Balcones del Peru, and they were really on their game.

    The ceviche mixto was perfectly marinated. It had a nice mix of squid, shrimp, scallops and halibut. The potato and corn were a little dry, but the yam was very flavorful.

    The saltado mixto was outstanding. We had a shrimp and beef saltado. The beef was grilled perfectly, and the shrimp was also cooked just right. The sauce on it was rich, and delicious when soaked up by the french fries.

    And, oddly enough, the service was unusually non-epic.

    I still prefer Puro, but Balcones is not out of the running.

    4 Replies
    1. re: lil mikey
      Thi N. RE: lil mikey Jul 30, 2008 07:15 AM

      lil m - what's your favorite fried plantain in this town?

      1. re: Thi N.
        lil mikey RE: Thi N. Jul 30, 2008 09:39 PM

        Hi Thi - It's great to have you back from SF!!

        I love plantains, but I'm not a connoisseur. I can't think of a plantain I didn't like. I'm sure some are better than others, but since I don't eat them that often, it's hard to choose.

        I like the sweet ones at Cuban and Central and South American places.

        My favorite plantain, although not in this town, was in Kissimee, Florida and it was in a dish called mofongo. I haven't been able to find it here in LA, but I read that Madre's (RIP) served it.

        The plantains are not sweet, and they are mashed and fried in a unique way that gives you a great texture kind of like scalloped potatoes and a distinct but mild flavor.

        Now that you mention it, I'll be more aware of my plantains and report back.

        1. re: lil mikey
          Thi N. RE: lil mikey Jul 30, 2008 10:20 PM

          Sounds like Cuban fried green plantains to me. Green, they're not sweet, and have an excellent starchiness, like a crisper cassava. Good with hot sauce. I had some good straight fried green plantains at El Cochinito on Sunset, but that was a few years back...

          1. re: lil mikey
            Ciao Bob RE: lil mikey Aug 1, 2008 04:03 PM

            Cuban Tostones...love them!!!!!!

      2. E Eto RE: Thi N. Jul 30, 2008 07:36 AM

        purple corn drink = chicha morada
        fried seafood platter = jalea
        potatoes with cheese sauce = papa a la huacaina (from your other post).
        You should keep some of the huacaina sauce for the fried yucca. I've seen yucca a la huacaina in some places, and it's a perfect match.

        Did you try any of the ceviches at either place?

        7 Replies
        1. re: E Eto
          Das Ubergeek RE: E Eto Jul 30, 2008 07:54 AM

          Puro Sabor serves yuca a la huancaina on the regular menu.

          1. re: Das Ubergeek
            Debbie W RE: Das Ubergeek Jul 30, 2008 10:47 PM

            Could you tell us where Puro Sabor is? Sounds like it might be dangerously close to my house.

            1. re: Debbie W
              Das Ubergeek RE: Debbie W Jul 31, 2008 06:02 AM

              6366 Van Nuys Blvd., a couple of doors down from Victory on the east side of the street. They're open 9-21 every day, I think. I have a report to write on them but I don't have time to write a big long post right now.

              1. re: Das Ubergeek
                Diana RE: Das Ubergeek Jul 31, 2008 08:32 AM

                quickly, though, was it yummy or not.

                1. re: Diana
                  Das Ubergeek RE: Diana Jul 31, 2008 02:25 PM


                  1. re: Das Ubergeek
                    Diana RE: Das Ubergeek Aug 1, 2008 06:38 AM

                    Oooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh! Yum!

                    1. re: Diana
                      Das Ubergeek RE: Diana Aug 1, 2008 04:06 PM

                      Here you go: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/544706

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