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Feb 3, 2009 04:53 PM

Mofongo Depot

I was wondering about this restaurant---is it considered to be Puerto Rican or Dominican? The menu looks to me anyway, to be PR... Thanks!

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  1. A plantain by any other name would taste as sweet.
    I thought if it was mofongo it was Puerto Rican and if it was mangĂș it was Dominican.

    3 Replies
    1. re: wolfe

      That's what I thought, too! I think what confused me was that I saw people who reviewed it on other boards call it Dominican. Thanks for your response.

      1. re: wolfe

        First time I had mofungo was on a trip to DR, not that that means its correct.

        1. re: wolfe

          Mofongo and mangu are not the same thing. I am Dominican and we eat mofongo as well. Narcisa goes into a very accurate and extensive explanation of the differences so I won't rehash them here.
          Mangu consists of boiled plantains which are then mashed with some butter and a little bit of they water used to boil them in. In old school Dominican households, it is served for breakfast with fried salami and fried was meant to sustain and fuel you for working in the fields. These days it's considered quite heavy and so in my parents house at least, it is usually made for dinner or for Sunday morning brekfast/brunch.

        2. I've been to Monfogo Depot, twice. It is not a Puerto Rican or a Dominican Restaurant. It's a Latin American Caribbean restaurant. Yes mofongo is a Puerto Rican dish but Latin American countries have a habit of fusing other country's foods with their own and making their own little tweeks. The mofongo at Mofongo Depot is Dominican style mofongo.

          I would suggest trying the place for yourself as everyone's tastebuds are a little different but the two times I've been to Mofongo Depot (as a Puerto Rican who grew up eating and making mofongo at home) their mofongo was A-W-F-U-L and I walked away EXTREMELY disappointed. The texture, the flavor, the intensity was not what it should have been. Now, I don't want to slam the restaurant MAYBE it just happened to be the two times I went that it just happened to be one of their off days, it happens.

          If it is MOFONGO that you are interested in, I can offer three places that I would recommend. Casa Adela on Avenue C (they can have their off days here and there too - just being honest - but generally they are VERY authentic and good). Then there is La Fonda Boricua on 106th street off of 3rd Avenue (I haven't had their mofongo but I have had almost everything else and it has NEVER been a disappointment, not to mention it's a nice spot to hang with friends, live music, lounge across the street that is an extension of the restaurant, pleasant atmosphere, nothing but ++++ so I feel safe to say their mofongo is good although I haven't tried it). MY BEST RECOMMENDATION would be a chuchifrito stand on the south side of 116street between 3rd Avenue & Lexinton Avenue. HANDS DOWN THE BEST MOFONGO IN THE CITY outside of gramma's & tia's kitchen! BUT remember if you go here you are going here for THE FOOD, not for ambiance, not for being health conscious, not for doting customer service. This is a tight, loud, crowded, dramatic Puerto Rican style, spot frequented by locals for YEARSSSSSS. Heck my grandmother used to enjoy this spot when she could peel herself away from the kitchen. If you're not comfortable with blending you won't survive the experience! If you are good with blending then you might find the whole experience entertaining! LOL You come here SOLELY for cheap eats, your taste buds, food PILED on plates, their MOFONGO, and a full tummy! Like I mentioned on another post, once you put the first fork in your mouth you zone everything else out.

          13 Replies
          1. re: narcisa

            have you tried el castillo de jagua? I'm no PR / Dominican etc expert at all, but ive been going there for good cheap food lately (stews etc) and I usually get their mofongo, which i like, but if there are substantially better versions id love to try them (although i figured they were way uptown which is sort of a pain)

            1. re: Lau

              Thanks Lau!
              I've never been to Castillo de Jagua! But, I've heard of it, good things! BUT, you say they're way uptown??? Is there a second restaurant uptown, because the one that I've heard of is on the Lower East Side???? If there is one closer to me I would love to know

              1. re: narcisa

                no sorry you misunderstood, they are in the LES (very close to where I live)

                i was saying that if there are other restaurants who have better versions than el castillo de jagua then i'd love to try them as i really like mofongo, the only thing that trekking way uptown is very far for me since i live in the LES

                1. re: Lau

                  ohhhhh....ooops....sorry Lau. Yeah, I know what you mean. When I lived in manhattan I used to be a regular on LES but now it's really out of the way for me and I usually go only when the weather is conducive to a nice long walk on a weekend. Send my regards to LES there are soooo many wonderful little joints down there. :)

                  1. re: narcisa

                    Hey narcisa,

                    I tried Casa Adela, the mofongo was great, i liked it alot...its a bit better than El Castillo de Jagua although i like El Castillo's as well...main difference is the gravy / soup they give you to pour on the mofongo. Thanks for the rec

                    here's my report:

                    1. re: Lau

                      Lau....I'm so glad you enjoyed Casa Adela and I really enjoyed reading your review.

                      I'm also glad you noticed the difference between Puerto Rican style Mofongo and Dominican Style Mofongo. Puerto Rican style Mofongo is served with a broth and doesn't have meat mixed into it the most it will have mixed into the plantain mash itself is the garlic, oil, and chicharron...the meat (be it chicken, pork, seafood, even vegetables is usually placed in the center of the mofongo or poured over it. Dominican mofongo usually has the meat of choice actually mixed into the plantain mash and it is served with a gravy not a broth. They are both delicious it just depends what style you are hankering for at the moment.

                      Like I've mentioned before, Mofongo isn't really something you want to eat often (especially if you're health consciuos) but it is something that when you get a craving for it everybody better watch out!

                      As for the chicken, the color you noted is very typical of homestyle Puerto Rican chicken. The chicken is basted with achiote oil.....if I'm not mistaken, I believe it is called Annatto in English. The achiote seeds are simmered in olive oil until the oil turns red. This is then used to baste the chicken and give it that noticeable color and depending on how long you cook it that crispy skin. I personally don't like to eat skin but that is a favorite among MOST Puerto Ricans.....the first thing they attack is anything that has crunchy skin! LOL

                      Now, I am a Pernil enthusiast......I make a KILLER Pernil! I hope that is not being too you are ever having a dinner or the like (I extend the offer to my other fellow chow members in the NYC area) and would like a Pernil..... feel free to email me and (I just ask you give AT LEAST 2 days notice because I like to marinate the meat) let me know and we can come to an arrangement. I LOVE cooking but don't have anyone to cook least not at this time in my life!

                      I'm not sure if you've ever heard of it or can even find it, but we also make something called Pollochon which is baked chicken that has been seasoned to taste like roasted pork shoulder/pernil/lechon (Spanish word for chicken is pollo and Spanish word for roasted pork is lechon....squish the two words together and you and Pavochon which is turkey that has been seasoned to taste like roasted pork shoulder/pernil/lechon (this is typically made during thanksgiving - Spanish word for Turkey is pavo and Spanish word for roasted pork is lechon... squish the two words together and you I also make heads up!

                      Funny story: I actually made Pavochon one fall for a local community garden event. I carried the turkey over to the garden.....boy......was it hot and HEAVY!

                      Needless to say I forgot to bring the cutting/serving utensils with me. I told the organizer: " I'll be right back". (I literally live ONE block away on the first floor - how long could that possibly take- less than 5 minutes right???? Especially since I literally RAN home!!!!)

                      When I got back....I was flustered.....WHERE in samcottonpickinhill is the turkey???! I'm looking around! Where's the turkey??????? I turned and saw the aluminum pan it was SUPPOSED to be turkey.....there was so much laughter I guess at my reaction....and then complaining that there was no more.....and then one of the volunteers bashfully admitted that the moment I walked out someone just wanted to peak under the aluminum foil.....when the scent came out....I was told that people hoarded around like vultures! LOL Too Funny! That was TWO YEARS AGO and I still have people bugging me when I walk down the street! Mannnnn.....I didn't even get any!

                      1. re: narcisa

                        Wow! I decided to check this post again after receiving the Chow Newsletter! When I first posted this question, it seemed this thread wasn't going to get any traction.

                        Thanks, narcisa, for your detailed posts. I have been to La Fonda Boricua and recently to Sofrito. IMO, of the two La Fonda is what represents true "cocina criolla". Sofrito is more upscale.

                        I'm half PR and am always seeking out new PR places to try in NYC. My husband isn't PR but after having introduced him to PR food, he now has his favorite dishes.

                        A question about Casa Adela (BTW, I appreciate your honesty in saying that the place does have its off-days)---I found a menu on-line and noticed that they did have some items they labeled as "Cuban". Yet I recognize the other menu items as PR. Is the place considered a PR restaurant or a Caribbean restaurant? Just curious...

                        1. re: MizYellowRose

                          i'm not a PR expert and narcisa is better qualified to answer, but it is billed a PR restaurant (says it in big letters below the sign on the window) and I'm pretty sure the people are PR b/c there are PR flags everywhere and a bunch of posters with PR stuff on it and I think the waitress was even wearing a PR flag pin on her shirt

                          1. re: Lau

                            Thanks, Lau. I'm seriously thinking of giving it a try!

                          2. re: MizYellowRose

                            Hi MizYellowRose!

                            I'm glad these postings are having such a positive impact! I love to exchange information, share, and learn!

                            Casa Adela is a Puerto Rican restaurant. Now there is something that not many people realize about true Puerto Rican culture.....not Nuyorican Just touching on the topic of food: There are 3 MAJOR influences in Puerto Rican cooking (which are the ones anyone every focuses on) and then several lesser influences but quite notable influences in Puerto Rican cooking.

                            The 3 major influences are:

                            - Spaniard: i.e. garlic, olive oil, pork, garbanzos, chorizo, etc.
                            - African: i.e. malanga, quimbombo (okra), gandules, etc.
                            - Taino: i.e. pineapple, yucca, gaunabana (soursop), etc.

                            Several lesser influences (BUT NOTABLE INFLUENCES- this is the part people, sadly even our own, never learn about) are:

                            - Canarian (especially during the 1930's when Spanish Civil War broke out MANY fled and permanently relocated to Puerto Rico due to former Spanish ties)

                            - French & Corsican (when France was overthrown in the 1850's many Corsicans & French fled to the southern part of Puerto Rico - especially found in the town of Yauco - due to the similar weather & humidity in comparison to their homeland)

                            - Irish (during the Potato famine many wanted to immigrate to America and chose Puerto Rico because of its very strong catholic roots)

                            - Syrian/Lebanese, Jewish, (MANY came to the Caribbean as indentured servants especially during the late 1800's to early 1900's)

                            - Indian & Asian (especially when large numbers of Chinese began to immigrate throughout Caribbean during the beginning of the 19th century)

                            - Cuban (during the 1960's a huge wave of Cubans entered Puerto Rico's open arms trying to escape the Castro Regime)

                            - and most recently Dominican (due to the horrible economy they have sought refuge in their closest neighbor, Puerto Rico)

                            During the 1800's Spain heavily promoted immigration to Puerto Rico
                            and made landowners of thousands of the following so that they could develop Puerto Rico's vast supply of fertile land:

                            - Italian
                            - German
                            - Scottish
                            - Portuguese

                            So you see, so many people think that Puerto Rican food is just arroz con gandules, cuchifritos, and pasteles. BUT there is soooo much more which unfortunately you usually don't see in NYC.

                            If anyone would like more information there is a free interactive website that I HIGHLY recommend. It's called Puerto Rico Dish By Dish and it's found on the network. This group consists of recipes, history, legends, photos, newsclips, etc.

                            Sorry for being so long winded but I hope this proved to be beneficial to many.

                            1. re: narcisa

                              Thank you, narcisa. As one who has mestizo blood, I fully understand the history! I'm always on the lookout for new PR places to try in NYC. Where I live now if I want PR food, I have to cook it myself LOL! When our daughter was growing up, she would often invite friends to dinner on nights when I was making PR food. One of her friends liked it so much that he told her to let her know when we were eating it again!

                              I think we'll give Casa Adela a try next time we're in town. After all, one of my husband's favorite PR meals is on the menu---bistec encebollado---that alone convinced him that Casa Adela is worth a try LOL!

                              1. re: MizYellowRose

                                Ooooooh! I LOVE bistec

                                Alrighty then! Puerto Rico in da house! LOL Just kidding!

                                I LOVE to cook, I just don't have a family to cook for, one day I will, I tend to cook for myself and then give the rest away to people in the neighborhood! But I can understand your sentiments. LOL

                                There's another place I know of called Cabo Rojo. They have a menu for each day of the week. It's a very humble spot with very typical Puerto Rican food. It's located between 24th street and 25th street on 10th Avenue. It's super cheap. I wouldn't describe it as "gramma can I have a third helping please" but the food IS good, consistent, and it hits the right spot when you miss home.

                                1. re: narcisa

                                  narcisa---You have been so helpful---thank you! I've taken notes so when we're in town again I'll know where to get good cocina criolla! BTW, your description of your pernil made my mouth water :)!