Mochica Review - so-so ceviche, stellar starches and sauces
Had a really enjoyable meal here last weekend. I was really impressed with all of the sauces, especially the spicy romesco-ish one that came with the delicious anticuchos (we got the traditional beef heart, although they also offer beef, chicken, fish, and shrimp), and the three that came with the deep-fried fingerling potatoes that accompanied one of the other dishes (I think it was the octopus). Can't remember exactly what they were, but I remember that they were very very good - complex and bright and delicious. I would have been happy with a big plate of fries, and a few tubs of each of the sauces. Maybe someone can talk them into opening a Peruvian frites shop.
Don't know if it was an off night, but I found the ceviches lacking - the fish wasn't super-fresh, and the ceviches were extremely acidic, without alot of other herbs or aromatics to balance out the flavors. Even the halibut tiradito, which I'd read great things about, was a little bland, esp compared the fantastic sauces in some of the other dishes.
The other major miss was the beet salad, which didn't have much beet.
We enjoyed the papas a la huancaina (potates with a classic cheese-pepper sauce), a green tamale, and the pork carapulcra (a comforting, homey stew with pork and air-dried potatoes). All were rustic, soulful, and satisfying.
Price was extremely reasonable - with tax, tip, and wine (they had a nice selection of Portugese and Spanish wines in the $30-40 range), the check came out to about $50 pp.
937 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
I have also noticed that the food has changed over the past year, unfortunately, for the worse. I have stopped ordering ceviche because it has been too acidic, for whatever reason. Two different nights I've sent food back to the kitchen - once because the aji de gallina had only 1-2 bite size pieces of chicken, and the second time because of heavy oversalting. Despite the inconsistencies, I still go back occasionally because there aren't many good peruvian restaurants in SF. La Mar is better (at least the dishes that I tried) but is also much more expensive.