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Ostiones Preparados and Pan de Elote at Mi Pueblo in East Palo Alto

Melanie Wong Jan 17, 2010 11:40 PM

Even though I’d already eaten cornbread for lunch with my oyster Rockefeller soup on Friday, when I saw the mention of hot cornbread in “Filling Shopping Carts, and a Community Need” by Sheila Himmel ( http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/15/dining/15sfdine.html ), I squeezed in a visit to the new Mi Pueblo supermercado on my trip down the Peninsula that afternoon.

I’ve posted about the cornbread that I purchased at the Salinas branch of this local grocery chain, “Pan de Elote and Fresh Romeritos @ Mi Pueblo supermercado in Salinas” ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/677250 ). In East Palo Alto, the pan de elote was nowhere on display. I asked the cashier in the bakery section, and she pointed to a cooling rack. She said that they’d just come out of the oven and were too warm to be boxed and put on the shelf yet. But she pulled one out and tagged it for me. Here’s the pan de elote label:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

As I exited, I stopped at the oyster station set up near the doors. Ostiones preparados were offered for $1 each, shucked and dressed to order. I couldn’t pass this up and tried one. The raw oyster cocktails were dressed with diced red onion and cucumber, freshly squeezed lime juice, Tapatio hot sauce (optional), salt, chili powder, and bottled tomato-clam cocktail. Delicious.

Some customers were buying plain oysters shucked on the spot then packed in a quart container with some ice. This could come in handy the next time I need some oysters to cook in a special dish.

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Mi Pueblo
1731 E Bayshore Rd, East Palo Alto, CA 94303

  1. f
    fishhead Feb 4, 2010 07:06 PM

    Were the oysters available only during the opening? I've been there about a half-dozen times in the last week and haven't seen any.

    I've had menudo, which seems to be available every day. I can't argue about authenticity of the recipe -- I don't know. It's basically tripe and broth -- a bit salty for me. But it's still really good. They don't give you piles of onion/cilantro mix and when I asked for oregano, they had to go to the spice isle of the supermarket to get it. I got about four corn tortillas. For $6.99 I was satisfied. But I'm a sucker for menudo and they were serving it during the week, although their sign said it was available only on weekends. This is good. Enough people are ordering it that they're carrying it on weekdays.

    For tacos, I've had the al pastor, lengua and tripa. They slice the al pastor from the revolving spit. Today, the guy slicing the meat cut a hunk of the pineapple off the top of the spit, sent if flying through the air with his knife and caught it on the tortilla. A move that had a bunch of us on the sidelines giving each other the thumbs up. There's something nice about standing in line with a bunch of strangers who are entranced with the big spinning hunk of meat, which is dripping juice. After slicing the meat, they put it on the griddle for a minute to add texture.

    This step is where a lot of places I've tried have fallen down. It results in totally desiccated, rubbery meat. Thus far (keep your fingers crossed) Mi Pueblo has managed to avoid this. The meat I've had has always fallen into the not dry category, which makes it really good. In other words, char plus juice equals something terrific. Oh, today, the guys making tacos would griddle the tacos in advance and then dump them into the tray full of lengua, allowing them to soak up a bit of the juice.

    When I've been there, this place has been giving out samples. Today I was headed over to resample a bunch of sugary crispy things and I got intercepted by the tortilla guy, who insisted that I try his tortilla. They make them fresh and when I bought a bundle the other day, they were hot and steamy. When I deep fried them they made these chips that had a lot of big pockets which make them layered crispy.

    So far I'm pleased with this place and I don't particularly like Mexican food. I hope Sushi Monster will visit and give us his evaluation.

    4 Replies
    1. re: fishhead
      RWCFoodie Feb 16, 2010 02:31 PM

      Haven't been in a couple of weeks but my understanding was that the oysters are only on the weekend...

      1. re: RWCFoodie
        f
        fishhead Feb 20, 2010 09:51 PM

        Yes, I went last weekend and the oysters were there. I got a 24 count bag and found they originated from Drake's, which used to be Johnson's. I think they're around Pt. Reyes. They do the oyster thing Friday-Sunday.

        The quality of the oysters varied oyster by oyster. Some lost their liquor. Others were full up. In addition to the bag I got for home, I had a half dozen to eat cruising the aisles. They were served with a copious amount of lime juice and a choice of condiments (red onion, cilantro, hot sauce, etc.). They were delicious in that sauce, but some were dried out prior to their swim in the sauce and wouldn't have been great eating plain on the half shell. You know the problem.... You see an oyster on the half shell and it's dry. You are immediately cast into doubt mode.

        To further research in this department, I'll sample oysters at Mi Pueblo from time to time and report back if there are dire consequences. However it turns out, I'm happy that there's a place around here that wants to provide these magnificent bivalves at a cost about 50 cents apiece.

        If you don't hear back from me, things are great or I'm dead.

        I get sketchy on oysters that aren't full of liquor. That said,

        1. re: fishhead
          Melanie Wong Feb 21, 2010 07:19 AM

          Interesting, the day I was there, the oysters were from Mexico. Drakes Bay oyster farm is on Drakes Estero near Point Reyes.

      2. re: fishhead
        yimster Feb 20, 2010 08:33 PM

        Was there today and the oysters were on the outside of the store. Will be back tomorrow to try the more of the weekend specials.

      3. c
        CYL Jan 26, 2010 05:20 AM

        Have to see to believe. Huge, giltzy, clean, upscale, and amply stocked. Ten times bigger than Mi Pueblo in Mountain View. Meats well trimmed; prices on comparable items slightly higher than Ranch 99 and Marina. Can it maintain and survive at the pace at this location?

         
         
         
         
        3 Replies
        1. re: CYL
          Melanie Wong Feb 2, 2010 09:54 PM

          When Mi Pueblo first came to my hometown of Salinas, it took over an abandoned Safeway that had been empty for several years and did little in the way of improvements. I imagine that it wanted to see if Salinas could support them. But recently the Mi Pueblo store has been completely remodeled along the same lines as the EPA store, but not as big. It's been really great to see the success of this store. I wish the same for EPA.

          I'd been in Brentwood a couple weeks before and walked into one of those new super Safeways. Similar size to Mi Pueblo in EPA, but the lighting was not done as well and prices were considerably higher. Some of the produce prices made me gasp at Safeway, guess our farmers markets really aren't that pricey.

          All the chairs and tables in the taqueria section were full the day I was there, and it was well after lunch hour. It looks like the store is becoming the community hangout.

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            yimster Feb 3, 2010 06:45 AM

            I have been shopping there on a weekly basis and have not seen any slow down. So busy and so many employees. I do hope it can keep it up.

            Love the meat and bakery selections.

            Next time I will have to get there during either lunch or dinner time to try there food court. Even in off hours the chairs were at least half full.

            Had Al Pastro tacos the first one was the best I had and while the next two was not as good but still one of the best.

            Saw some fresh items in the vegetable section I have only seen canned or dried. Wish I knew how to cook them.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              Ruth Lafler Feb 3, 2010 08:24 AM

              I agree about the produce prices at Safeway -- much of the stuff at farmers markets is comparably priced (or even less), especially for the quality.

              The Mi Pueblo in Oakland also took over an abandoned Safeway, but they remodelled it extensively before they opened. Someone mentioned that they have lots of staff, and I find that to be true at Oakland as well. Everyone is very friendly (if occasionally overly so ;-) ) and helpful. I like the name badges that say where they're from, which can be anywhere from Oakland to Colombia. In addition to having fresh-made tortillas, they also have big bags of prepared masa (a couple of different ones) if you want to make your own tortillas or tamales.

          2. RWCFoodie Jan 25, 2010 05:13 PM

            We stopped in yesterday afternoon and had a great time! It was like a fiesta was going on; lots of samples to taste and just a general atmosphere of a party! This is a great place.

            The produce and meat departments are fully stocked with very fresh looking products. The prepared food selection is staggering (would have eaten there but already had dinner started) - the oyster stand was set up so we had a half dozen. They say it will be there only on weekends.

            A lovely fresh mango agua fresca hit the spot as did tastes of the cochinita pibil and carnitas. Picked up the pan de elote which we've decided we like best toasted, fresh, hot corn tortillas, beautifully trimmed fresh beef cheeks and pork parts already cut up for pozole (I was feeling lazy)...

            1 Reply
            1. re: RWCFoodie
              Melanie Wong Jan 25, 2010 05:22 PM

              Yes, lots of sampling. I was handed a hot corn tortilla when I walked past that aisle and I also tried the fresh fruits douses with Tajin brand chili powder.

              It's been a while since I've been to Chavez supermercado in RWC, but the prices especially on produce at Mi Pueblo seem a little bit higher. But that might just be inflation in the last year.

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              Chavez Supermarket & Taqueria
              46 5th Ave, Redwood City, CA 94063

            2. yimster Jan 20, 2010 10:34 AM

              I must of miss you that day. I have three oyster for a quick snack. I asked and they may be having the stand on weekends if there is enough business. Next time you are in the store check the bakery it has a large selection of really fresh and good cookies, cakes and breads. One is a cream cheese pepper bread that is to die for.

              Also the meat selection is as close to an Asian meat market as it can get. Lots of cuts of meats that can be used for Chinese dishes.

              1 Reply
              1. re: yimster
                Melanie Wong Jan 23, 2010 04:48 PM

                I've tried some of the baked goods in the Salinas store when it first opened and didn't find much that I like. But now that I've stumbled upon the pan de elote and your rec, I'll sample a few more things.

                Oh, at the butcher counter I noticed that "suadero" was translated as navel plate. Navel is the cut used to make pastrami traditionally. That's what it looks like to me, the same fatty brisket-like cut used for ngo nam but without the layer of fascia. The butcher counter in Salinas has more variety meats, but I was pleased to see free-range chickens sold in EPA with the feet on.

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                Mi Pueblo
                1731 E Bayshore Rd, East Palo Alto, CA 94303

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