REVIEW w/ pics: The Flavors of Belize Made for a Happy Palate
I first found out about Flavors of Belize after reading it on the Food Marathon blog (http://foodmarathon.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/flavors-of-belize-lights-up-la-brea/). The food looked pretty tasty and although it took about 9 months to pay it a visit after finding out about it, it was definitely worth the wait.
We started with trying out a couple of their fresh squeezed juices: soursop and craboo. Interesting names, don't you think? It's hard for me to describe what they taste like exactly except both had a slight sweet/tart taste to them but definitely didn't taste the same. However, I found them both very refreshing.
When it came to the food, the first thing we tried was the Conch Fritter which was ground conch mixed in a batter, seasoned and fried. I couldn't actually taste the conch, but I liked that the fritter wasn't oily and had an almost cornbread quality to the texture. Following the fritter came the Spiced Ground Beef Meat Pies. I wish that there would could have been a bit more beef in the pie but what was there was delicious plus I really loved the flaky pie crust.
My favorite dish of our meal was the Chicken Tamal. Wrapped in a banana leaf, once opened, both the masa and chicken were tender and moist. What was also addicting was this tropical habanero sauce that is a staple in Belizean households. Sweet with a kick, it went well with all the dishes, except dessert.
Another dish we tried was the Salbutes, fried corn tortilla topped with a mix of chicken, shredded cabbage, cilantro and tomatoes. On its own, it was delicious with the crunchy cabbage, the peppery cilantro and the acidity from the tomatoes, but that habanero sauce kicked it up a notch even more.
We also ordered a side of sweet plantains, not realizing that it came with one of the entrees we had chosen from the menu. I liked that it wasn't overly soft, but other than that, there was really nothing else to it.
The one dish that was unexpected in regards to flavor was the Ducunu, which is young corn that is ground, seasoned and steamed. I was expecting it to taste sweet, but that wasn't the case. It tasted slightly bitter with an after taste. Apparently, the ducunu can be sweet or not sweet, depending on the type of corn used and/or the preference of the cook. This was definitely the one dish out of everything I had that just didn't do it for me.
Known as "Black Dinner" in Belize, the Chimole is a dish that might surprise you if you hadn't been prepared for its inky soup color. Chimole gets its color and flavor from a paste made from charred chilies, annatto and other spices and the restaurant's version includes chicken, 1 potato and 1 hard-boiled egg and is served with tortillas. The soup flavor was smoky with a dark pungency to it. There's a complexity to that broth where I tasted a lot of different nuances, but what those nuances were, I had no idea. Be sure to dip your tortillas so that you can mop up all that black goodness.
Our last savory item was the White Rice and Beans with Oxtail that included white rice cooked with coconut milk, stewed kidney red beans, plantains and a potato salad. The oxtail was tender and while a little too overcooked, I enjoyed the coconut rice. I also loved the kidney beans. There was a creaminesss to the beans themselves that was unusual, but delicious.
We weren't planning on having dessert, but once I found out that there was lemon pie available, I had to go there and I'm so glad I did. The mini pie crust was very flaky and buttery with a creamy lemon custard filling and a fluffy meringue. I could have eaten dozens, well maybe, just one more. They were just that good.
Overall, I very much enjoyed my meal at Flavors of Belize. I definitely was exposed to some new things I've never experienced before and if this restaurant were closer to me, I'd be a regular customer. Having said that, it was worth the drive and I would certainly make it again.
Flavors of Belize
1271 S La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019
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Flavors of Belize
1271 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019