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Mariscos Chente--tried 3 dishes ALL winners

westsidegal Jan 14, 2009 06:08 PM

ok, the odds are agains this for any restaurant, but this place is amazing me.

first i tried camarones a la pimiento, and they were wonderful
then i tried camarones a la diabla, and nearly passed out with pleasure.
tonight i tried camarones checa, and i'm wowed again.

maybe i should just pay rent and take up residence in this place?
when you order be sure to ask for a spoon too so that you will be able to consume every drop of their delicious sauces.

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    bruinike RE: westsidegal Jan 14, 2009 07:52 PM

    Would you be able to describe each of these dishes? Your excitement has me excited!

    5 Replies
    1. re: bruinike
      westsidegal RE: bruinike Jan 14, 2009 08:16 PM

      these were all cooked dishes of shrimp in the shell served with different sauces.
      the sauces were not at all like each other.
      all the sauces had tremendous flavor and complexity and balance.
      non of the sauces were tomatoey, next time i'm going to try the ranchera which does contain tomatos

      the name of the game here is: it's all about the sauce(s).
      if you like moderately spicy things start with the a la diabla. . .

      1. re: bruinike
        streetgourmetla RE: bruinike Jan 15, 2009 09:59 AM

        camarones a la diabla-spicy, tomato based sauce

        checos(Czech)-steamed shrimp in a medium spicy garlic sauce.A referenece to the Czechs heavy use of garlic.

        a la pimienta-an elegant pepper sauce with light oil

        1. re: streetgourmetla
          westsidegal RE: streetgourmetla Jan 15, 2009 11:41 AM

          i didn't pick up tomato in the diabla; if it's there, it's subtle, predominently a red chile flavor.

          1. re: westsidegal
            streetgourmetla RE: westsidegal Jan 15, 2009 11:49 AM

            The best versions like Chente are subtle amounts of tomato in the dominant chiles sauce.westsidegal, a couple more things to try:chicharron de pescado, tacos de marlin(a grilled smoked marlin and cheese taco), and the culichi.

          2. re: streetgourmetla
            westsidegal RE: streetgourmetla Jan 16, 2009 09:33 PM

            fwiw, there is NO tomato in the a la diabla served at mariscos chente, i asked tonight when i was there.

            i will report on the ranchera (which does contain tomato) when i can tear myself away from the checo and from the a la diabla.

            d'ya think i'm getting a little obsessed with the food at this place?

        2. n
          nosh RE: westsidegal Jan 14, 2009 07:53 PM

          I'm assuming you are talking about the location on Centinela in Mar Vista, across from Taqueria Sanchez. About how much do these dishes run? A la carte or with rice, etc?

          1 Reply
          1. re: nosh
            westsidegal RE: nosh Jan 14, 2009 08:17 PM

            with rice and chips and salsa before tip $11.
            since i an not a fan of chips, i have them substite a basket of warm corn tortillas for the chips and salsa.
            amazing portions of large-sized shrimp for such a small amount of money

            and, yes, the location on centinala

          2. Servorg RE: westsidegal Jan 16, 2009 06:58 AM

            Okay, this is seriously great food. First of all the two shrimp dishes we tried yesterday were both over the top great (camarones a la pimiento & camarones culichi). Sauces which make the most addictive drugs in the world look like decafe on the scale of needing more after the first taste. The rice served with the shrimp is also quite good. Buttery, cooked beautifully. Your comment about needing a spoon was one I was thinking about before I took my fork and just started mixing the rice into the sauce and then into my mouth. Nirvana.

            Secondly, the prices are dirt cheap. For chips and a very spicy green salsa and a basket of warm corn tortillas and two plates with heaps of shrimp, rice and sliced cucumbers + one Modelo Especial and one bottle of water the tab came to $26 + tip.

            Going back SOON for the checa.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Servorg
              westsidegal RE: Servorg Jan 16, 2009 10:34 AM

              i liked the checa even more than the a la pimiento. bring an oxygen tank so that your partner can revive you after the checa. . .

              1. re: westsidegal
                Baron RE: westsidegal Jan 22, 2009 06:53 AM

                Do they have grilled fish dishes?

                1. re: Baron
                  westsidegal RE: Baron Jan 22, 2009 02:03 PM

                  yes, you can even get the grilled fish with the checa sauce or the a la diabla sauce if you like

                  1. re: westsidegal
                    Baron RE: westsidegal Jan 22, 2009 03:57 PM

                    What are their hours? I went there at 11:00 am for an early lunch eager to enjoy their fare and the place was closed - not a soul. No hours were posted on the door. do you know? thanks.

              2. re: Servorg
                streetgourmetla RE: Servorg Feb 6, 2009 11:27 AM

                Sevorg, just had the camarones al chipotle last night.If you love the culichi, this will be right up your alley.Similar prep with peeled shrimp cooked in a creamy chipotle sauce.Delicious! The oysters weren't bad either.

                1. re: streetgourmetla
                  Servorg RE: streetgourmetla Feb 6, 2009 12:47 PM

                  Sounds really good. I am going to bursting at the seams after my next meal here as I will be ordering most of the menu for the two of us. Thanks for the recommendation.

              3. Dommy RE: westsidegal Jan 16, 2009 10:29 AM

                The prices are PHENOMINAL for the quality... I mean, I once ordered a mediorce campechana from a MARISCOS truck that was a similar price to what Chente is charging for theirs...

                I have to add two more dishes...

                Loved the Camarones Fritos, just a simple dish, of perfectly fried shrimp in their shell (Not breaded). The saltiness of this dish really complimented the sweetness of their fresh shrimp.

                And their Coctel de Camarones y Pulpo... As an Octopus fan, I was in heaven... I can't tell you how many times I've paid over TWICE the amount this dish was and gotten rubbery flavorless/fishy octopus... Shrimp can be tricky... but not that hard... but Octopus... that takes true skill which only speaks to the quality and the amount of effort they put into this place to get it right.

                Thank you SGLA for making me come back here... We are truly greatful...


                2 Replies
                1. re: Dommy
                  exilekiss RE: Dommy Jan 16, 2009 12:36 PM

                  Hi Dommy,

                  Thanks for this tantalizing information. Good Octopus is indeed hard to find around here. I'll have to try this in addition to the other dishes recommended by streetgourmetla. :)

                  1. re: Dommy
                    streetgourmetla RE: Dommy Jan 16, 2009 12:49 PM

                    You're correct, Dommy, the man has skills and they are serious about making it right.You all have got me worked up about these dishes, so I'm going there right now! Awesome that you tried some other dishes.Nice to know about them.

                    De nada.

                  2. Ciao Bob RE: westsidegal Jan 16, 2009 05:41 PM


                    This place really rocks.

                    I went for lunch and the ceviche mixto and Fish "Chicharron" were just spectacular.

                    I wish I couuld properly explain the sauce on the pan fried fish chunks...deep red with a yellow-orange powder sprinkled over. If anyone know please tell me.

                    Did I say YUMMY?????

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Ciao Bob
                      Dommy RE: Ciao Bob Jan 16, 2009 09:34 PM

                      Thanks for reporting on the Chicharron, it's definably on the short list when return! :DD


                    2. n
                      nosh RE: westsidegal Jan 21, 2009 08:13 PM

                      OK, I stopped into Mariscos Chente for an early lunch today, about 11:20. Very sparse place, only one other table occupied, I sat down on the other side. Menu all in Spanish, no explanations, a bunch of "Shrimp Plates, with rice and vegetables" listed at $11 or $12. Served a bowl of what looks like fresh homemade chips and a thin green sauce, asked for recommendations and say I like spicy, and order the "a la diavalo."

                      After awhile I am served a large oblong plate with at least a dozen large shrimp on one side, with their tentacles and antennae and shells and all swimming in a thick red sauce with a lot of cooked-down onions and probably a lot of peppers. On the other side is a salad of lettuce, some sliced tomato, and a bit of raw red onion, no dressing. So my first problem -- how to deal with these shrimp? I get up and ask for a knife -- the waitress scrounges among the silverwear and finally gives me a steakknife, so I can separate the large shrimp bodies from the shells and heads and feet and antennae. Then I ask about the rice. "It isn't ready yet." Well what am I supposed to do about all of this sauce?" "We gave you extra salad."

                      Gosh, I really wanted to like this place, and the sauce was hot and tasty and the shrimp fresh and nicely cooked. It took forever and three requests to get my water refilled. They didn't charge me sales tax, just the menu price (after I had asked about the missing rice and shrugged my shoulders asking how I was supposed to eat all the tasty sauce). And I think the server needed to ask another neighboring table for singles for my change. They talked about how a Chowhound had printed out this thread and shown it to them -- Wow, they really need to get their act together.

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: nosh
                        Densible RE: nosh Jan 21, 2009 08:35 PM

                        I posted on Monday and Tuesday about my experience at the Inglewood location. We had the same dish and it was not spicy and very very greasy. Yours sounds better . We had rice-it was actually pretty good. There was a long discussion on this board about coctels and other dishes-looks like it all deleted. Not sure why. It was very edifying.

                        I assume you went to the Mar Vista location. I hear that the chef there is Sergio and he is the one you want to be cooking. I would like to try it again if I could be sure who is cooking.

                        1. re: Densible
                          streetgourmetla RE: Densible Jan 21, 2009 09:25 PM

                          Hey Densilble, the cocktail discussion is on my post.Go to Mar Vista when you can and give it another whirl.

                          1. re: streetgourmetla
                            Densible RE: streetgourmetla Jan 22, 2009 12:15 PM

                            Cool thanks. We are planning on a Mar Vista excursion very soon.

                        2. re: nosh
                          streetgourmetla RE: nosh Jan 21, 2009 09:23 PM

                          Hey Nosh, too bad about the rice.Maybe this might help if you plan on tryin' the place again.

                          Up until I took a group of people to the Inglewood branch before Mar Vista opened, the customers were 100% Latinos, and local.There have been some non-Latinos showing up recently, but their clientele is still mostly latino and spanish speaking.They, like many ethnic restaurants mostly deal in their native language.No one was asking for descriptions of the dishes before so the menus, old menus, have remained.Matter of fact, there are some things there not even on the menu.Sometimes that's part of the challenge, I'm sure you've been to the SGV.

                          In Mexican seafood, things like cocktails, ceviche, and oysters are eaten in the morning, cooked dishes with rice would be for la comida fuerte(the big meal of the day), which is around 2PM.11:30AM is no man land for the latino customers, which would explain the lack of customers, and the rice still being cooked.Their regular mexican customers would be showing up later for "lunch".Wanna see an empty restaurant in Mexico?Go around noon, or 6PM and when Americans are having lunch and dinner, Mexicans are still working and planning la comida fuerte, or la cena(supper-8 or 9PM)

                          At that hour you were at MC you could definitely have enjoyed some raw items.Try a little later and the rice will be there and be delicious.

                          The knife?We just use the forks, biting into the succulent sweet shrimp and tearing the head away without care.But, yeah, you need rice with the sauce for sure, next time do ceviche, etc.

                          I go to Sinaloa about 4-5 times a year sometimes more, and have chowhounded throughout the state, and Sergio is the best we have in LA after searching for years to find a place here as good as the ones I frequent in Sinaloa.If you can negotiate a few inconveniences, and some cultural things you will be greatly rewarded.I don't think anyone on these threads has been to this place more, I've been regular for the last 6 months, and never caught them without rice, or found them less than wonderful people.Anyways, your experience is valid, just trying to help, if I can.

                          1. re: nosh
                            Servorg RE: nosh Jan 22, 2009 06:19 AM

                            The culichi are without shells so that is a good way to go if you don't want to deal with getting or bringing your own knife (g). Our order of pimiento had shells, but the shrimp meat was already loosened from the shell so you just pulled it right out with no effort. Too bad about the rice as mixing it in with the sauce is one of life's great pleasures. We went very late (like 2:20 PM). I was amazed that the rice was still so beautifully cooked that late in the day.

                            1. re: Servorg
                              CCDiner RE: Servorg Jan 22, 2009 11:40 AM

                              I tried MC the other night, w/ the family. As stated the menu was in spainish, but the waitress was helpful. We had the garlic shrimp, pepper shrimp, and shrimp diavolo. All were excellent and the sauce was to die for. Wish I had more rice. Perhaps they need to add beans to the menu, refried or whole.

                              We requested some red salsa for the chips and five minute later they came out with some freshly made pico de gallo (chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lemon or lime juice, and minced jalapenos) How is that for service.

                              We were the only diners there. Does anybody know if they do take out?

                              Driving by from the street the place looks like it is closed or under renovation. Don't let that fool you.

                              This is a great place for inexpensive seafood. You get 12 shrimps on each order.

                              1. re: CCDiner
                                streetgourmetla RE: CCDiner Jan 22, 2009 12:08 PM

                                Only mexican-american mariscos places serve beans, in a real mexican seafood restaurant, rice or vegetables are the standard accompaniment.I don't even think Maricos Chente has beans since there are no non-seafood items on the menu, unless there is a kid's menu.

                                You can always request extra rice, I'm sure. I had a dream about the "a la diabla" sauce last night. Going to have to stop by this weekend, I guess.

                                1. re: streetgourmetla
                                  Dommy RE: streetgourmetla Jan 22, 2009 12:58 PM

                                  In their old incarnation, they happily did take out for me...

                                  Also, the sauce is not only meant to be sopped up with Rice... but Tortillas... so please ask for tortillas and instruction on how to make 'bocados'


                                  1. re: Dommy
                                    Servorg RE: Dommy Jan 22, 2009 01:07 PM

                                    Good point about the tortillas being an instrument of mass consumption when it comes to the sauce. We were putting shrimp, sauce and rice soaked sauce into the tortillas, along with cucumbers and a little hot sauce and devouring them.

                                    1. re: Dommy
                                      streetgourmetla RE: Dommy Jan 22, 2009 05:32 PM

                                      Yes Sevorg and Dommy, tortillas are a great suggestion for the frustrated out there.Flour are the choice in SInaloa, small tasty flour tortillas, so there you go, Dommy and Sevorg have shown you another technology to deal with all that sauce!

                                  2. re: CCDiner
                                    westsidegal RE: CCDiner Jan 22, 2009 02:04 PM

                                    they do do take out

                                    1. re: westsidegal
                                      joshekg RE: westsidegal Jan 22, 2009 05:52 PM

                                      And you can just ask for Maria's cell phone number if you want to call in your order ahead of time since they do not have a phone yet.

                                      This obviously requires a 1st visit before you get to call in your takeout order.

                                    2. re: CCDiner
                                      westsidegal RE: CCDiner Jan 22, 2009 02:06 PM

                                      i've never had beans served to me with seafood in mexico.

                                      1. re: westsidegal
                                        streetgourmetla RE: westsidegal Jan 22, 2009 05:41 PM

                                        You are correct wsg! And you will not get seafood in Mexico with beans, nor at Mariscos Chente.It's sort of common sense, isn't it. Beans and fish? Beans and shrimp?

                                        1. re: streetgourmetla
                                          westsidegal RE: streetgourmetla Jan 22, 2009 08:59 PM

                                          as an ex-new yorker, i get the same 'yuck' feeling when i hear of people eating pastrami sandwiches with cheese. . . . .
                                          where i grew up, NOBODY would consider putting cheese on a pastrami sandwich, just like nobody i met in mexico would want to eat beans with their seafood.

                                          those are combinations that seem to appeal to californians, though. . . . .

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