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Jan 14, 2010 08:22 AM

Marlin (Taco) Madness at Maricos Chente!!!!!

I was at MC last night and had placed my usual "octopus/shrimp ceviche followed by the pescado zarandeado" order when I remembered the post of streetgourmetla about the new menu items and Dommy!'s followup. I especially remembered about the smoked marlin tacos. So we got a double order (two/order) and proceeded to be blown away. These tacos are amazing!

Slightly crunchy tortilla - I guess they quickly bake the taco after assembly -- with firm slightly smoked fish and soft cheese.

Just spectacular!

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  1. It's the quintessential Sinaloan street taco, fnished on a grill. Good for you! next the gobernador!!

    1. Wonderful!! So glad you tried it and enjoyed it as much as we did. We cut it up into little bites to share and all went... WOW... And were thankful that restaurants where people work DAMN hard to bring us all flavors like this. :D


      1. hey guys, have any of you had the marlin truck tacos in San Diego at Mariscos German? and if so- how do MC's stack up against the taco i -literally- dream about?

        18 Replies
        1. re: jdwdeville

          I haven't had the ones at Mariscos German, but Kaire Raisu first brought them to my attention. M. Chente's are the classic marlin and cheese, typical of Sinaloa, also of Baja. The ones at German are something I've never come across in Sinaloa, they're some kind of gobernador. I believe this is their stylized version, coming with a ton of vegetables, pretty substantial.At Chente they're a starter, at German, a main.

          But, I hear they're pretty tasty, though.

          1. re: streetgourmetla

            It was Kare Raisu who brought marlin tacos to my attention as well. I jumped in the coupe and took a leisurely (er, quick) ride down to Mariscos German in San Diego last October and had my fill. They were absolutely delicious, worth the 200+ mile round trip. They also were the first I’d ever had, so I had no basis of comparison. I found myself pulling out most of the grilled veggies to enjoy more of the pure, rich marlin flavor.

            Since then, I’ve been on a marlin taco hunt. I’ve enjoyed the ones at Mariscos Chente and also discovered two other establishments offering them. The first being Mariscos El Rey, upstairs at Plaza Mexico in Lynwood. They, too, are wonderful, made in the same style as Chente’s and served as a great combination with some superb rice and beans. With the vibe, ambience and people watching, I felt transported back down to somewhere in Mexico.

            Next, I found them at a chain called El Bukanas with branches in El Monte, Santa Ana, Montebello and West Covina.

            Mariscos El Rey
            3100 E. Imperial Hwy.
            Lynwood, CA
            (310) 609-3390

            El Bukanas
            11583 Lower Azusa Rd.
            El Monte, CA 91732
            (626) 443-2451

            1115 W. Washington Blvd.
            Montebello, CA 90640
            (323) 725-8635

            1920 W. 1st Street
            Santa Ana, CA 92703
            (714) 834-1310

            1347 Azusa Ave.
            West Covina, CA 90640
            (626) 918-3536

            Overall, I like Mariscos El Rey’s the best, followed closely by Mariscos Chente and then Mariscos German and El Bukanas (both similar, salad-like style). Mind you, all of them were excellent in their own right. But, I’m more of a purist, hence my preference for Mariscos El Rey’s and Mariscos Chente’s simple, straightforward execution. Although I cannot be sure and have no proof, I feel that Mariscos El Rey uses real marlin due to its stronger, more pungent and forward aroma and taste. They are also a bit oilier than the others. Tuna and marlin are fairly closely related, belonging to the same kingdom, phylum and class. In any case, I’m “hooked” on these tacos!

            1. re: degustateur

              You are a marliniac.

              Besides beans n rice, what gives El Rey the edge, in your opinion? Of course, rice n beans do not go with seafood, nor should any legit seafood joint have beans on the premises. Only cooked seafood goes with coastal rice, white, not red.

              But, Plaza Mexico is a fun place.They did a fantastic job there.

              1. re: streetgourmetla

                Yo, Street!

                Glad to hear from you. I admire your contributions.

                I agree that the r&b’s don’t traditionally go with seafood but, I love their rice – made plain and simple, with great taste and texture. And the beans are cooked in lard. Man, I gotta get my fix whenever I can!

                As for the marlin tacos, the edge (vs. Mariscos Chente) that I accredit to them lies in the rich, vibrant flavor of the marlin (or fish) itself. As I mentioned, I’d surmise that it is real marlin. It’s literally “in your face”. I remember being almost put off by their pungency and forwardness the first time I tried them. Yet, they weren’t overly “fishy” tasting. There was a distinct smokiness present. Also, the balance (ratio) of marlin to cheese seemed optimal. They, to me, are unique … the kind of character and flavor that makes you want to drive back for a couple more after you get home.

                Please do understand, the “edge” is slight, likely purely personal and has absolutely nothing to do with rice and beans.

                1. re: degustateur

                  Right on. Can't argue with that. You can just call it Puerto Nuevo rules, the only place in Mexico where beans are traditionally served with seafood (lobster).

                  But, thanks for the tip, I'll be sure and pop in there sometime to check out the marlin tacos at Plaza Mexico.
                  Have a great weekend.

              2. re: degustateur

                I went to Mariscos El Rey yesterday and I hate to admit it, but I didn't care for the marlin tacos. They tasted overly fishy, stringy but somehow somewhat mushy at the same time, and not very smoky, and I just gotta say that with extremely rare exceptions - none of which come to mind at the moment - fish and cheese just don't go well together. Perhaps it is sipmly an acquired taste that I have not acquired.

                1. re: estone888

                  i feel the same way about fish and cheese.
                  in my youth, growing up in new york, it was extremely rare to see dishes that combined the two.
                  never developed an appreciation for the combination.

                  i LOVE the marlin at Mariscos Chente without the cheese, though.

                2. re: degustateur

                  Thank you Degustateur for telling us about Mariscos El Rey! When we went last night (after being engañados by La Huasteca) and was in bliss... not for the Marlin Tacos... but for their Bontana de Pulpo and Camaron!


                  OMG! Perfectly cooked and prepared seafood served in the style of my abuelita de Cozumel. The pulpo was even tastier than the Tako Sushi we had at Hide a few nights before...

                  Anyway, of course we went there to try the Marlin Tacos.


                  I'm glad you offered your discription of them, I agree 100%, but it really about nuances, and we both agreed that we prefer the ones from Mariscos Chente. There was enough differences between the two that they both stood fairly out from one another, and we found although you get more Marlin flavor in the MER version, the MC version overall has a better texture for us.

                  For us, it's MC, then MER and then MG.

                  Thanks again for your posts... I think both versions of the tacos (and that Bontana plate, OMG!) are worth a taste for all hounds...


                  La Huasteca
                  3150 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262

                  Mariscos Chente
                  4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                  1. re: Dommy

                    I am so pleased that you made it to MER and left satisfied. I too am a devotee of their wonderful botanas. In addition, I truly appreciate their generosity with tostaditos. As for tacos de marlin, I can honestly say that I’ve never had one that I did not enjoy. For some reason, though, I prefer the more pungent ones with that “in your face” flavor. Since my post, I’ve had both MER’s and MC’s again and my preference still holds for MER, MC and MG in that order.

                    Other ‘hounds have complained about mixing cheese with fish. Not me. In this case, the combo has synergy. It really works for me.

                    While you were at MER, did you happen to stop by Barbacoa Actopan, right next door? Superb Hidalgo style lamb. When I go, I always hit them both up – MER on the spot and BA to go.

                    BTW, if I may ask, what went down at La Huasteca? Is Rocio Camacho there yet?

                    La Huasteca
                    3150 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262

                    Barbacoa Actopan
                    3100 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262

                    1. re: degustateur

                      On Sunday Rocio was hosting a Oaxacan feast, but a rather vague flyer did not state what times, it turned out to a morning only thing. Hence, we show up at 7p and were only able to order off the regular menu.

                      Anyway, being that she recieved rather substancial billing for the event, I have a feeling she made an appearance that morning. We peeked ino La Huasteca's kitchen when we arrived and did not see her there.

                      We also noticed some new additions to the La Huasteca menu, a couple of antojitos and new mole offerings which show signs of her influence. But is she there on a regular basis, we didn't ask (We had already felt like we put them on a wierd spot after inquiring about the Oaxacan food and were more than gracious when we told them we would just take some drinks and antojitos instead of a full dinner)

                      The Drinks per usual were excellent. The new antojitos were a bit uneven.

                      Craving Oaxacan food we ordered the Mamela.


                      This where we hit the first stumbling block. The Mamela it's self was rather tough. We ADORE the soft and almost melty mamelas of Guelagetza and even La Oaxacaquena truck! The green salsa was excellent, which is why it was infuriating with how flat and almost bland the red salsa was. I ADORE salsa de tomate frita, so this was a total let down.

                      Panucho de Cochinta Pibil


                      This was much better, although the Panucho was SO tiny that you really didn't get to enjoy the play on texture and flavors and even the skill of creating this dish. The Cochinita, well... it was smokey and had too much cumin. It wasn't BAD, but not the flavor profile I look for in my Cochinita...

                      Finally, it's funny that you mention Fish and Cheese (a Combo that i love actually! :)) but when the waiter noticed me disecting my half of the panucho, he came up and offered, "since I seem to like Cochinita so much, he could have the kitchen whip me up a Cochinita Quesadilla... OMG the look I must have gave him because he was soon scooting away before I could even studder my most polite "no thanks!" Now THAT would have been a desgracia... LOL!


                      La Huasteca
                      3150 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262

                      1. re: Dommy

                        Hi Dommy,

                        Thanks for the report back. What drinks would you recommend there? Are you talking about Aguas Frescas (mmm! :) or Alcoholic Drinks? :)

                        For Memelas, do you mean the La Oaxacaquena Truck on Lincoln & Rose in Venice?

                        Thanks for the warning on their Cochinita Pibil. I'm guessing it's not close to La Flor de Yucatan's version? :)

                        1. re: exilekiss

                          I'm talking about Alcoholic drinks, some are HUGE and potent (The Jalisco Lemonade is a fave) although their Agua frescas are good.... to be honest, sometime we just order their Horchata and a shot of rum and let the magic take its place... LOL!!

                          Yup! I meant that truck, although I now realize that it's been well over a year since I've been last (I sat out Softball last season), I'm going to have to make a refresher visit soon!

                          And yes, Flor continue to be the king of the Cochinita... although I would not call La Huasteca's version bad (For bad cochinita, try Loteria... bleh!) but just different from what I've experience in Merida and from my favorite places here. YES, from the Pib, you do get some SMOKE, but it works to combine the other flavors. But this was a LOT of smoke in spite of the other flavors and not in a good way like a Poc Chuc...


                          La Huasteca
                          3150 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262

                        2. re: Dommy

                          Hi Dommy!

                          I appreciate your follow-up report. Frankly, La Huasteca has never seriously impressed me. It is good, but not great, imho. I was hoping that Rocio’s role and presence there would improve their score substantially. Alas, perhaps that’s not meant to be. At least not yet. I do hope that she has not become such a celebrity chef that she is there in name only. I’ll seek to find out more about her status. Maybe someone with info that is more current can chime in.

                          Javier? Streetgourmetla? Das Ubergeek?

                          p.s. You know, Dommy, that cochinita quesadilla doesn’t sound half bad right now ...

                          La Huasteca
                          3150 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262

                          1. re: degustateur

                            Hello degustateur. Rocio is just getting settled in and has recently been trying things on the menu. I would either go often to see the development or wait a bit 'til she finds her menu.

                3. re: jdwdeville

                  Yup! I've had...

                  I found the ones at MG to be a bit drier and a lot more stronger and oily in taste... I think in addition to smoking, they grill them...

                  Meanwhile the ones at Mariscos Chente are tender, there is no hint of char and the flavor is pronounced, but MUCH more delicate...

                  The ones at MG are a lot more hearty, what with the grilled veggies and celery. The ones at MC are a lot smaller in serving and they are just served with cheese so they go down very easy (I can imagine eating about 5 of them and usually I only do 2 tacos... LOL!!)

                  Nevertheless, I think both are great! In fact, it took me so long to try MC's version because MG was SUCH a great experience for me, I didn't think that Mariscos Chente cold even come close... Oh boy... was I wrong... Now I think I prefer the MC... although if someone brought me a MG Taco right now, I would not refuse... ;D


                  1. re: Dommy

                    I'm pretty much a marlin anything myself. Ever had marlin taquitos, or empanadas? Pate de marlin?

                    1. re: streetgourmetla

                      Sadly not, I have an EXTREME aversion to Salmon and Tuna Steaks and to be honest, if KR had not ordered the taco for me, I would have NEVER tried it. I think that also played to the hesitation about MC version as well...


                    2. re: Dommy

                      Okay, that's it. I can take no more. I'm going back to MC on a marlin mission. (I was beginning to run out of excuses to go down to San Diego, anyway.)

                  2. Was alone for dinner and made it a point to wander over there last night since I kept missing it the last couple of trips. Was a complete pig as usual. Got four marlin tacos, order of the grilled langoustine and order of aguachile. Washed down with a couple of beers *burp*

                    I really liked the marlin. I picked off a couple of pieces to taste by itself. Meaty firm, not very oily. Not as smoky as I would have guessed. As mentioned the taco is grilled. To me it actually resembles a quesidilla more especially with the cheese, than what most people would think a taco would look like. I liked the cheese element, I thought it would be too rich with the cheese but it worked.

                    For my tastes, the langoustine under the grill than the previous version I had with it more steamed and the broth like sauce. I didn't find the meat as distinctive and texture didn't do it for me. With the gril preparation, the meat is sweeter and firmer. What also threw me was it came with a spicy sour cream type sauce that had chunks of red peppers in it. It sort of reminded me of the chinese preparation of putting mayo and grilling the shellfish like you see in some buffetts. Just like the first time I had that kind of sauce in MC's shrimp dishes, I wasn't sure if it would work. But somehow it did without it being nearly as heavy as I thought it would be.

                    I had initially ordered only the aguachile, langoustine and one order (two tacos) of the smoked marlin. After finishing the langoustine, I had just enough room to get another order of the tacos. Overall good stuff and to the standards you'd expect from MC.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Jase

                      Wow, thanks a million. Great report, and I'm officially jealous.

                      1. re: streetgourmetla

                        Well, I'm usually jealous of your food trips so...

                      2. re: Jase

                        Oh, forgot the pictures. And I can't edit for some reason. I meant to say I liked the grilled version better and the langoustines came covered with the sauce.

                        1. re: Jase

                          Great pictures! Thanks Jase!
                          Love those tacos.
                          The langoustine that I had was completely different...same giant creatures but either steamed or grilled and then drowned in a buttery, peppery sauce that we couldn't stop eating. Your description of the Chinese shellfish with mayo makes me gag thinking of how many cantonese baquets I have been served that horrorshow of a dish -- such ruined shellfish is hard to abide.

                        2. Thanks, Chowhounds for this tip. I may be the only person in Chowhounds who was less than thrilled with the Pescado Zarandeado (yeah I know, shoot me).

                          I had meant to go back to try some shrimp dishes, but ended up ordering the Langostino Zarandeado and an order of the Marlin tacos. What a treat. Are these items seasonal, or is there a chance they will be permanently on the menu? I would go back again just for these, maybe with a shrimp dish added.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Ogawak

                            One of my best friends gets a minor "neurotoxic" side-effect from the PZ so he had sworn Chente off until I sent him for those tacos last week.

                            1. re: Ciao Bob

                              what, exactly is the 'neurotoxic' effect? i have a pz at least once a week, is that the reason i'm somewhat batty?

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                He gets a weird, mild -- but annoying -- tingling in his legs and feet (and, I believe, his hands as well). He tried it numerous times because he loves the dish but he got the sensation every time so he quit. He's an MD but isn't sure of an exact diagnosis. I never got a tingling anywhere but my mouth from it!

                                1. re: Ciao Bob

                                  a friend of mine got the same thing.... but much more intense. why is that? the rest of us can eat that stuff every day and just feel full and sleepy. makes me sad because she LOVED the PZ but was only able to eat it once.

                                  1. re: esquimeaux

                                    Ask Sergio to zarandear another fish. In Sinaloa/Nayarit, they do all kinds of fish this way, with their own unique flavors. You can ask if he has pargo(sea bream), huachinango(red snapper-different in Sinaloa), (lisa)mullet, curvina,and cabrilla(sea bass).

                                    I'm pretty sure he has cabrilla, curvina, and huachinango. Tell them your problem and they can try one of these other fish. Sea bream would be great but the others will do just fine. Hope that gives some hope.

                            2. re: Ogawak

                              They've had the marlin tacos for a while, but I don't remember whether they're actually on the menu. Like many of their items, they are subject to availability, but luckily there are enough good dishes that you won't ever waste a trip.