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Mo Chica downtown

I tried the new downtown location of Mo Chica. I was disappointed. I liked the old Mo Chica much better. The new Mo Chica lacks charm. It has the Border Grill sort of faux Latin feel to it. It has a small plates concept. Whatever. I'm not aware of any small plates restaurants in Peru.

The menu is printed on annoying rectangular cards that are grossly inferior to normal menus, which are ubiquitous for the simple reason that they work well.

Solterito. A tasty but tiny little salad with pea tendrils, lima beans, corn, and feta. Maybe 175 calories. This is meant for sharing? Everybody gets two pea tendrils, three lima beans, and three kernels of corn. Enjoy!

Anticucho de pulpo. The octopus was about average. It was served with potatoes and a jalapeno sauce. There was nothing interesting about this dish.

Aji de gallina. Below average. Small portion. No rice! (I didn't even see rice on the menu, but it was hard to understand.) Rubbery, overcooked chicken. Average sauce. Even the quail eggs seemed subpar. This is the sort of thing that a decent home cook can top on his or her first try.

I find it surprising to say this, but I wouldn't go back. The food quality was about on par with Mas Malo across the street.

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  1. Wow, what a disappointing report. I have not yet tried the new MC, but have walked by and definitely see what you mean by the "faux Latin feel". I would also note that the prices seem to have tripled for some items since the move, which I guess is to be expected.

    I really regret not making the trip down to Mercado La Paloma more often when I had the chance, the original MC really embodied everything that I love about the food scene in this city. It's a shame they couldn't keep it open.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ronsilverado

      Disapointing. Was going to host a rotating monthly downtown lunch next week. Where instead? Have done Lazy Ox, Spice Table, Botegga. Need something cool but price wise about the same as Spice.

      1. re: Thor123

        If you want to be able to have a conversation, don't go to Louie Botegga.

    2. Interesting, I was just reading KevinEats.com's review of the place: http://www.kevineats.com/2012/06/mo-c.... He had a generally positive experience.

      Not sure if I want to try it for myself, just wished I had tried the original Mo-Chica.

      3 Replies
      1. re: PeterCC

        Possibly his review could be going easy on him or he is easier to satisfy. Hard to say but differing perspectives never make choosing a restaurant easy.

        1. re: PeterCC

          Don't be too hard on yourself. The experience at the original location had seriously degraded from what it was a few years back.

          1. re: downastro

            Degraded how? Quality of the food? It seemed to me last I was there that the service was struggling to keep up with its popularity, but the food always seemed consistent.

        2. One reason we loved the original Mochica was the quaintness (tiny space, Japanese hair lady, the feel of eating in a Tiajuana indoor market). This is gone. If I were to go back to the old Mochica location and see that empty stall, I may start to tear up.

          1. Were the plates at the original Mo-Chica shareable? I don't remember them to be so, certainly not the ceviche & the causa.

            So the food's the same, and the restaurant space has none of the charm of old?

            1 Reply
            1. re: TonyC

              Maybe so, but you could get 3 orders of causa or ceviche for what they are now charging. And the portions of the entrees (the lamb shank in particular) were massive.

            2. FWIW, it looks to me like you didn't order well. I've never had an aji de gallina that I really liked and the solterito is also something I doubt I'd order. There are much more interesting items on the menu.

              1. We happened to go to the new Mo Chica for lunch yesterday. We really enjoyed the food and service, but the room lacks the charm that I've come to associate with ethnic SoCal places. I like everything from Din Sin World and Don Adrian to even Mexicali Taco, Natas Pastries, and Handsome Coffee Roasters.. But the new Mo-Chica just feels like it's trying too hard, in a NorCal kind of way.

                After living for many years in NYC and London, I've come to love the relaxed lack of preciousness and over-thought design you get here, even among some trendy places. Unfortunately that doesn't describe the new Mo-Chica.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Peripatetic

                  While I love their cemitas poblanas without reservation I hope you weren't saying you enjoy the "charm" of the room at Don Adrian's...It has all the charm of a scale model downtown LA Greyhound Bus Station... ;-D>

                  I wanted to add a link to the piece that Chris Erskine (Man About Town) of the LA Times did on Mercado la Paloma (Mo-Chica is included as part of the story) whose writing is so very enjoyable and who has that "skewed" view that makes it all fresh and funny: http://articles.latimes.com/print/201...

                2. It's not like the food was bad; I certainly wouldn't discourage anyone from eating there. I just thought the whole experience, and the food in particular, was worse than at the original Mo Chica. I was particularly annoyed by the small plates. They were not particularly refined, nor were they particularly suited for small plates. For example, I felt that the aji de gallina was a much smaller and clearly inferior version of the same dish at the original Mo Chica, which I recall being around the same price. I'm annoyed by the fact that they took a good, traditional dish, served a much smaller and inferior version of it without rice and without any discernible attempt at refinement, and charged the same price. All they did was overcook the chicken, remove the rice, and serve a quarter of the original portion. "Small plates" -- what a joke.

                  Although the price per plate is only about $10, I'd say the price per calorie is probably on par with places like Water Grill and Drago Centro. Those restaurants are far superior in my opinion. To be honest, I'm price insensitive. I'm just peeved by the fact that the food is worse than the original Mo Chica and the price per calorie is much, much higher. It seems like a scam. And I don't want to have to order five dishes to feel like I've eaten a normal meal -- especially when the dishes are just tiny portions of ordinary dishes that have no business being "small plates."

                  Trust me: this is not a serious restaurant.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: AlkieGourmand

                    I've heard the same, boss went to eat with a friend and I heard that the lomo saltado portion size was reduced, doesn't come with rice anymore as well...

                    They should've kept the same format for lunch and change to a small plates format for dinner.

                    1. re: AlkieGourmand

                      I think you have to expect the prices to be a lot more given that their rent is a lot more at the new location. If the food isn't as good, that's another story. I still haven't had a chance to eat there yet but I'm pretty excited that the menu is larger and includes things like paiche (which I had and loved earlier this year in Lima) and alpaca stew and that they have a liquor license. I liked the original one too but given the hours of operation and location, I rarely made it there.

                      1. re: bg90027

                        I agree about the location. Although the name is the same, I think what they're doing, and particularly who they're doing it for, is going to change the experience a lot. Whenever I went to Mo-Chica at MLP, there were just a few people eating, all of whom looked like they were seeking out the restaurant (probably CHers or adventurous types). It sounds like this iteration of Mo-Chica is for the downtown locals, younger affluent types, who spend their time at the Umamicatessens and Cole's of the world.

                        So I'm guessing this is in fact, not as serious a restaurant, or not as Chowhoundy as we would have liked it to be.

                        1. re: andytseng

                          I don't really agree with you about the audience or the seriousness of it. Paiche is serious cuisine. They have plans to serve cuy. Non-adventurous eaters aren't going to order cuy.

                          1. re: bg90027

                            I dunno, celebrity chefs can make hipsters eat anything.

                          2. re: andytseng

                            You mean you think they would consciously serve less interesting food because...? I'm trying to figure out this logic.

                            1. re: foodiemahoodie

                              My wife and I had dinner there last night for the first time. We had never been to the original location. We almost didn't go after reading all of the negative reviews. Our server was well aware of the negative online reviews and he said the restaurant has increased serving size and lowered prices in the past few weeks. We split 4 dishes and were stuffed. Everything was delicious. I don't have the benefit of having experienced the original location but we greatly enjoyed our dining experience and will be back.

                              1. re: chezjay

                                Good hear. My partner and I went there a few wks/months ago; we had never been to the old location, but I had read reviews about it. I was sort of horrified when I saw the concept (tapas style, which generally means lots of $ for little food). The food was delicious, but it was simply *too* small. Went there ~1 mo ago w/ a 30% off coupon. At that price, it felt like quite a good value. So I think either reducing prices by 15% or increasing quantity by a likewise amount would be fantastic. It doesn't need to be "cheap," but you want to feel that what you got was a respectable value....

                      2. We stumbled across this restaurant while on a cross-country Amtrak trip. What a lucky find! The flavors were unbelievable. The four of us shared four appetizers and five entrees. We couldn't have enjoyed it more. Everything was cooked to perfection. Will definitely return on next trip to L.A.!!

                        1. I thought some people were exaggerating but the new location of Mo-Chica is terrible. I was a big fan of the old location and Picca as well. While I'm not upset the portions are smaller and prices are higher I was very disappointed. Of the night I had nothing worth remembering.

                          The oxtail and barely risotto: oxtail was not tender and still clung on to the bone strongly so it was a mess to eat and lacked that richness that braised oxtail should have.

                          Lamb shank: Absolutely terrible, I've never sent anything back to the kitchen but this was inedible. The cilantro beer sauce was bitter and did not taste right (I've had the same sauce on the duck at Picca and liked it there) and the lamb shank had no flavor, textured like it was boiled and not slow cooked then nuked in the deep fryer.

                          Causa - this didn't seem to have the same charm as the old location, maybe I'm just being nostalgic but I just didnt feel the same like I use to as it was one of my favorite things to get before. Also what's with being so sparing on the aji amarillo sauce?

                          Seabass ceviche - pretty much the same as it was before but I don't feel strongly about it now for some reason.

                          Grilled octopus and roasted potatos: Nothing really noteworthy, the octopus was bland an didn't have a nice char to it.

                          Lomo saltado - Not much to say about it, pretty much what it was at the old location but smaller portion and no rice which is a traditional side.

                          Alpaca stew - Don't remember anything good about this stew, it was pretty typical.

                          I was hoping they would have gotten their sea legs a few months in but I can't recommend this place to anyone. If anything Picca has much better food at least.