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Oyamel: chef needs to take it easy on the salt...

Visited DC last weekend and went to Oyamel for the first time. I'll give props for the beef tongue taco and cabrito taco, but everything I tried was very salty, and in some cases inedibly so---the grasshopper taco in the latter case. (And I'm no salt-phobe and can't stand underseasoned food.) I know lots of Mexican food is inherently salty (chips, cheese, etc.), but even the salsa and guac were dominated by salt. I also found the prices too high relative to portion size, and the classic margarita really average and too light on the tequila.

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  1. Yes, but was there enough salt on the rim of your margarita?

    I agree about the grasshopper tacos being too salty.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      The margarita was in the wrong kind of glass (an old-fashioned instead of a proper margarita glass), and hence the salt didn't adhere well to the rim. Quite the irony, as you suggest! How can they serve that grasshopper taco? Are grasshoppers naturally salty, or do they preserve them in salt and just not rinse them? Can't believe they expect people to eat that thing.

      1. re: bella_sarda

        Actually, margaritas in restaurants in Mexico City come in old-fashioneds and not 'proper' margarita glasses. Since Oyamel is in the fashion of upscale Mexican restaurants, it makes sense they serve their margaritas in the same kind of glasses.

      2. re: Steve

        There is a definite need for Oyamel to adjust their margarita. The first round my group of 4 had on Saturday had three that appeared to have salt and one that didn't (mine.) After reading this, I concede to the fact that it may have melted. We were so excited about the first round of drinks. They were super tasty, so we ordered a pitcher. Big mistake!!! It tasted like heartburn in a glass. They fooled us, and of course the waitress never appeared again until we were done. So we became the sucker table. We were not blown away by any of the food except the mole chicken. That was extraordinary.

        1. re: moneybags202

          Their salt foam margaritas are the way to go - it's a perfectly even distribution of salt and you don't run out by the fifth sip.

          Also, the only useful application of foam that I've found.

      3. I had the same experience. My fiance thinks I need to try it again and that when we went it was unusually salty, but it's usually better. I kind of doubt this.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Melanie

          Glad I'm not the only one. Maybe restaurant people get so immune to salt that they need to add extra to be able to taste it.

          1. re: Melanie

            I just got back from my first trip to Oyamel in months, and can confirm that it's all much saltier than it used to be. The ceviche in salsa verde was just a bit too salty, and tangy enough that it worked out OK, and the goat taco was fine salt-wise, but the pork taco had serious salt issues, and the sopa caldo did as well. (The soup started off OK, but the saltiness built with every spoonful, and the last third of the bowl was inedible.)

            To address bella_sarda's other concerns, the 'ritas on my visit were of reasonable strength, and while Oyamel is always a little ridiculous price-wise, it's no worse than it was when it opened; I'd be willing to pay those prices if it were as good as it was back when it was in Crystal City, but they've gone seriously downhill in terms of quality control since moving to Penn Quarter.

            -----
            Oyamel Cocina Mexicana
            401 7th Street N.W., Washington, DC 20004

          2. We are in town for a week doing the tourist thing and I'm profoundly glad that I didn't let this thread keep me from going there for lunch today. All I can say is that nothing we had was oversalted. My husband had three tacos, goat, beef, and pork. I has goat and beef tacos, and the pozole (sp?) rojos soup. I also had a cup of hot chocolate. Damon, our waiter, was helpful, welcoming, and friendly. He asked about us, and offered to help us understand the menu if we had any questions (we didn't, we're pretty good with Mexican food). Our items arrived promptly, were the right temperature and my god they were good. soooo goood I wish,,,,I wish there were a place like this near us in Vermont. Y'all are lucky. :)

            1. I don't know Oyamel, but a dirty little secret of some restaurant chefs is they use a lot of salt and even more butter to cover their shortcomings. Since I use little to no salt at home, I am especially sensitive to all the oversalting that routinely occurs.

              1. This is exactly how I feel about all the Jose Andres restaurants I have been to in the DC area, although I it is more the case at both the Jaleo in Chinatown and the Jaleo in Bethesda.

                The best Jose Andres restaurant I have been to has been Cafe Atlantico - by far. But they are definitely heavy handed when it comes to salt.

                4 Replies
                1. re: niecy713

                  All i can say is it appears that saltiness, like humor, is very subjective. Nothing we had was overly salty. It was utterly delightful. It would be a shame if someone from out of town, who has no access to good, authenic Mexican food avoided Oyamel because of this thread I almost did, and I'm very glad I didn't.

                  I noticed no oversaltiness in the food, not even a little bit. The service was warm, welcoming, kind, and helpful. The prices were exactly what I expected, and so were the portions for those prices. Everything was wonderfully spiced/seasoned. My soup portion was, in fact, larger than I expected and I couldn't finish it all (but I have an unusually small stomach).

                  So unless you're particularly senstive to salt, I don't recommend avoiding this restaurant on the weight of this thread alone.

                  1. re: Morganna

                    I'm glad your food wasn't oversalted, Morganna, and yes of course I understand that salt perception is subjective and depends on how much salt someone habitually eats. Just thought I should add (or restate), however, that I am *not* someone who is "particularly sensitive to salt." In fact, I like salty foods and often find myself comfortable with more salt than many of my fellow diners. So the fact that I found several menu items at Oyamel to be extremely salty is an indication that many others might have the same perception. Of course, restaurant food is not always consistent, and different chefs can use different amounts, so of course not everyone is going to have the same experience on any given day. I'm not saying whether people should go or not, but just be aware that there seems to be a high salt risk at this place. And I agree with a1234's post that many restaurants use excess salt as a short-cut to flavor.

                    1. re: bella_sarda

                      FWIW, I had emailed the managers as Oyamel after my over-salted experience there to let them know about this thread and my experience, so it's also possible that they did in fact tell the chefs to cut back on the salt before Morganna went there.

                      1. re: sweth

                        If so, then I'm very grateful and thank you for a great dining experience. :)

                2. We had brunch at Oyamel recently. I HATE HATE salt and am extremely sensitive to it. For example, the prepared foods at WF and Balducci's are loaded with sodium. The soups, especially, are oversalted. I sent an email to Balducci's suggesting that they offer one or two low salt soups and never received a reply. In the universe of salt, Oyamel is Pluto.

                  But I did not think that Oyamel was a culprit.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Arabella09

                    I have no idea what your post is trying to say. Does that mean that Oyamel is as far from the salty center as possible? Or that it's a tiny bit of salt compared to Balducci's gas giant?

                    I can't imagine that eating at restaurants is fun for you if you're that sensative.

                  2. Joe Raffa Must be on vacation cause 99% of his food is outstanding and evenly seasoned. i have never had an issue with any of his cooking going all the way back to Majestic (original) .......That has to be it, or they hired a new line cook that needs training.

                    1. I ate at Oyamel for the first time in a long while. I'm not much a fan of their antojitos. So I decided to sample some other items.

                      The albondigas (meatballs) and the chile en nogado were exceptional. We're so lucky to be able to get great versions of these in DC. The nopalitos salad has a nice dressing, but the cactus leaves seem to be marinated and had an unusual sour flavor and strange texture.

                      The salsa is extremely good AND extremely salty.