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Chimu Peruvian Soul Food adds another foodie stop in DTLA

k
Kishari May 25, 2011 04:49 PM

I recently moved downtown, and have been working my way through the food stalls in the Grand Central Market -- current faves are pupusas and sopa de res at Sarita's Pupuseria (Salvadoran) and the goat tostada at Tacos Tumbras a Tomas (Mexican).

But after reading a review in the LA Times last weekend, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/daily..., today I tried the new Chimu Peruvian Soul food on the Hill side of the Market, which does a takeout window opening into seating on the patio. From the charming handwritten menu boards (I love those!) I chose a fantastic pork belly, crisp, chewy and fatty, everything a pork belly should be, topped with a creamy version of a chimmichuri sauce. Note: It usually comes with barley but since I can't eat gluten they were nice enough to give me quinoa instead. It was smooth and textured, with piquant yet subtle flavors that complemented the pork even though it was cooked to complement something else. Nice.

I ogled the order of a couple next to me who had the Ceviche del dia and the Lomo Saltado. Those are on the hit list next! Anyone else had the chance to try it?

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Grand Central Market
317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Tacos Tumbras a Tomas
317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

 
  1. s
    sushigirlie Aug 10, 2011 08:12 PM

    I tried it today. The aji de gallina (a very common Peruvian shredded chicken dish, served with rice) was good. (I've never had a bad rendition of this dish, however.) I thought the roasted potatoes served along with the dish were a nice touch and done well.

    I didn't like the chicha morada (a Peruvian drink that is traditionally made from purple corn, among other things). While it looked like chicha morada, it didn't taste like chicha morada. Rather, it tasted like lemonade. It was tart and lacked the deep, rich, sweet flavor of the chicha morada at Mo-Chica, which I strongly prefer.

    I'd definitely go back.

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    Mo-Chica
    3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

    6 Replies
    1. re: sushigirlie
      j
      JR90021 Aug 10, 2011 11:08 PM

      I agree, found Chimu's food to be delicious but I prefer the chicha morada at El Rocoto in Gardena. It does look similar but has a completely different taste. Chimu's chichi morada had a light, innocuous, hibiscus taste.

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      El Rocoto
      1356 W Artesia Blvd, Gardena, CA 90248

      1. re: JR90021
        c
        carter Aug 15, 2011 08:58 PM

        Hibiscus has a taste?!

        Never knew, nor did I ever think about trying it.

        Its fragrance is anything but innocuous, however.

        1. re: carter
          j
          JR90021 Aug 27, 2011 04:52 PM

          Yes it does. Look it up. In Mexico, a drink is made with hibiscus, agua de jamaica.

          1. re: JR90021
            s
            sushigirlie Aug 27, 2011 05:49 PM

            The serve jamaica at Chichen Itza. It looks a lot like chicha morada.

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            Chichen Itza
            3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

      2. re: sushigirlie
        s
        sushigirlie Aug 15, 2011 06:24 PM

        Pollo a la brasa: Even better than the aji de gallina. The chicken was grilled perfectly and the salsa verde topping was delicious. Just as good were the fried potatoes and aji amarillo sauce served along with the chicken.

        1. re: sushigirlie
          s
          sushigirlie Aug 26, 2011 09:55 PM

          The chicha morada has improved since I last had it. It is richer and sweeter.

          Everything I've had here has been good, but the standout for me was definitely the pollo a la brasa. I wish they had some interesting appetizers, desserts, or something else besides the one-course meals.

        2. a
          andytseng Aug 9, 2011 05:34 PM

          Just wanted to add in a report that I happened upon this place on Sunday (the s.o. had never been to Angels Knoll and was curious cuz of the whole 500 Days of Summer thing), and had a delicious plate of Lengua w/ lentils. The tomatoes in it were especially delicious. I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to spicy, and this was perfect for me. Just the right notes of spice, and the tongue was cooked well. Even the s.o., who is usually averse to tongue (that deserves a whole separate thread), thoroughly enjoyed this plate.

          I'm just a little sad that we only happened upon this place and it was an afternoon snack. Would have loved to try a few more dishes based on the experience I had.

          1. j
            Johnny L Jun 13, 2011 12:53 PM

            it looks like they have the exact same menu as Mo-Chica? Even their ceviche looks exactly the same with the white beans and seaweed.

            I was under the assumption that Mo-Chica was less traditional and more modern, is this style of Peruvian more common than I thought or are they simply knocking them off?

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            Mo-Chica
            3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

            4 Replies
            1. re: Johnny L
              p
              Papuli Jun 13, 2011 05:30 PM

              The head chef at Chimu, Mario Orellano, has said that the Peruvian style in which he cooks is fairly common in Lima. He is also a partner in, and former cook at, Mo-Chica, so there really isn't any knocking off going on, since it comes from the same person.

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              Mo-Chica
              3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

              1. re: Papuli
                streetgourmetla Sep 6, 2011 09:32 AM

                Mr. Orellano is not a partner in Mo-Chica, nor has he ever been. He worked at Mo-Chica for maybe a month,or a little more when they first opened as a sous chef. He's not Peruvian, and just recently visited Peru for the first time. I realize there are interviews where he's quoted saying he's a partner but it simply isn't true.

                A month at Mo-Chica as a sous chef? More like a stage.If the food is similar to Mo-Chica, then the inspiration would certainly be Ricardo Zarate's, the chef from Peru.

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                Mo-Chica
                3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                1. re: streetgourmetla
                  streetgourmetla Sep 6, 2011 10:02 AM

                  The scoop on Orellano. Was a waiter at the Biltmore while Ricardo cooked there after arriving to the US from London. He got his first kitchen experience under Zarate at the Biltmore, then Ricardo returned to London. When Zarate open Zu Robata, he called Orellano to come work there, where Mr. Orellano learned robata.

                  Orellano went on to work at Gjelina, a then place owned by Centeno(Lazy Ox) that only opened for a couple of months. He worked at the Loxy Ox for sometime, and was sous chef at Mo Chica for almost three months.

                  Mo-Chica is 100% Peruvian from Lima born chef, Ricardo Zarate.

                  An offer was made as an incentive--if Orellano stayed at Mo-Chica for a year, he would become a partner. He left after only three months to open a place that has a very similar menu to Mo-Chica?

                  In this interview, Orellano states he came into the restaurant business late, didn't realize he was cooking authentic Peruvian until he first visited Peru, and again, that "I'm a partner" thing. http://www.citysbest.com/los-angeles/...

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                  Mo-Chica
                  3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                  Robata Bar
                  1401 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                  Gjelina
                  1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

              2. re: Johnny L
                s
                sushigirlie Aug 9, 2011 07:50 PM

                I agree with Papuli regarding this style of food being fairly common in Lima. The food at Mo-Chica is very similar to the food at several higher end restaurants in Lima. I'd say it's "authentic" upscale Peruvian cuisine.

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                Mo-Chica
                3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

              3. m
                maiweezy Jun 12, 2011 11:50 PM

                This place is bonkers delicious. More photos from a recent trip, this is the lomo saltado, ceviche, seco de cordero (lamb belly stew), lengua with creamed lentils.

                 
                 
                 
                 
                1. m
                  maiweezy Jun 9, 2011 06:44 PM

                  I had a transcendental cookie experience here today. Midway through our meal the head chef, a very handsome and well-spoken man in all black, came out to give us a sample of his Alfajores, little shortbread cookies filled with a carob mousse. They're not on the menu yet because he says he's testing the recipe, but holy alfajores, I hope he doesn't change a thing! At first the cream tastes like a pumpkin-pie-baking-spice spiked dulce de leche, but then it gives way to much deeper, burnt caramel-y, dark molasses-y notes. The shortbread has such a pleasant texture - soft, slightly dense, and slightly crumbly. I've never had alfajores before so I've nothing to compare them to.

                  I LOVE the food here. There's extensive attention to detail that makes the food extremely elegant, but the flavors are bold and exciting, and there's such a unique array of ingredients in each plate. We had a shima aji tiradito, which was 4 pieces of shima aji in a seaweed salad and citrus vinaigrette. The salad had bits of noquats (a citrus - kumquat hybrid) in it, sliced peaches, avocado, radish, and quinoa. Such a great dish to wake up the palate, and the fish was extremely fresh and paired well with the bold citrus flavors.

                  We also had the grilled beef heart, another amazing and hearty dish that also featured potatoes, cooked (maybe souvide?) tomatoes, avocado, deep fried corn, and shaved onion. The beef heart was delicious, smoky, and cooked to perfection. I asked for a side of their aji sauce and it's unlike other Peruvian aji sauces I've had - thicker, earthier, more complex.

                  I have a good feeling that like Mo-Chica, this place is going to get very popular very soon. It's just such great food for a really fair price, and in a neat location to boot.

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                  Mo-Chica
                  3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                   
                   
                  5 Replies
                  1. re: maiweezy
                    b
                    bulavinaka Jun 9, 2011 09:48 PM

                    Carob mousse in an alfajore? That alfajore sounds incredible! Tell me - after trying your first alfajore, don't you think that these two clouds of fragile shortbread giving big hugs to dolce de leche (or in your case carob mousse) is one huge missed opportunity by all the coffee houses?

                    1. re: bulavinaka
                      m
                      maiweezy Jun 9, 2011 10:04 PM

                      Absolutely YES! Wow, coffee or espresso with alfajores, I'll have to try that next time, there's a coffee stand in Grand Central Market right next to Chimu.

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                      Grand Central Market
                      317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                      1. re: maiweezy
                        b
                        bulavinaka Jun 9, 2011 10:10 PM

                        And when you open your own coffee and alfajores shop, I will be the first in line...

                    2. re: maiweezy
                      Louisiana Mouth Jun 21, 2011 12:33 PM

                      Beef heart? - Wow! Sounds amazing - is that it in the picture on the right? How does it compare to the lamb belly stew? So looking forward to trying it.

                      1. re: Louisiana Mouth
                        m
                        maiweezy Jun 22, 2011 11:58 AM

                        Yes, that is the beef heart to the right, above. The beef heart I believe is quickly grilled, whereas the lamb belly is grilled then braised in the sauce. The former is more of a salad/appetizer with more acid, the latter is a creamier, richer main dish. The lamb is meltingly tender. Try both!

                        I should mention that I wrongly named the photos below. No ceviche is pictured, that's the aji de gallina to the far right.

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