I finally made it out to Bell today for ceviche at El Coraloense. For years I've been a La Cevicheria loyalist, but the recent increase in prices (and the fucking awful customer service) inspired me to try something new. The items discussed below were split between two people, and came to a total of $33 and change--which I felt was an absolute steal in light of the quality.
Rompe Catres: This was my favorite thing. A mix of halibut, octopus, shrimp, and imitation crab swimming in a sea of lime and serrano, with a dash of cream. There's also avocado. All of the seafood was nicely done, and the avocado and cream provided a nice counter to the stringent acidity. Could have used a bit more spice, but still, this was great.
Clauser: When I ordered this I didn't realize it was a mango and shrimp ceviche (note to self: learn to read). In addition to mango and shrimp, there is a subtle peanut sauce, a kick of chili oil, and some other ingredients I couldn't quite identify. This is kind of exhibit A of why fusion can still be great. A cultural mashup that worked brilliantly.
Taco D'eto: As best I could tell, this was a fried taco containing a chile relleno, which was stuffed with shrimp. Given that my favorite burrito in LA is Tortilleria Azteca's chile relleno burrito, I obviously loved this. Very highly recommended as a textural counter to the ceviche.
Mango Ceviche: This is the one you see on every table. Shrimp, tomatoes, onions, mangos, covered in a mix of standard ceviche acid and a pinkish sauce. Very accessible and goes down easy, but boring compared to the Clauser. Not particularly special but another good one.
Taco Revolcado: This is the fish pastor taco. I only had one, but it was substantial. The fish itself is more interesting than good. The seasoning is excellent, but the fish itself tastes, well, fishy on its own. However, the entire taco when taken together is greater than the sum of its parts. It was a nice break from the ceviche. Recommended for the experience of trying fish pastor, otherwise I'd pass on it.
Zombie: This was probably the biggest let down, in that it was a straight halibut ceviche where the acid was overwhelmed by a heavy hand with the cream.
Overall: The meal was excellent, and it's hard to imagine getting anything better at this price point. In terms of value, it blows La Cevicheria away. If we get rid of the price comparison though, I think the quality of the ceviches are very close, with a slight nod still going to La Cevicheria. The chapin and bloody clam ceviches at La Cevicheria are just brilliant, and I don't know if I had anything today at that level. Still, it was just the first time, and I saw several things on that menu I want to try next time.
tacos d'edoTaco D'eto: As best I could tell...
indeed it is... http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/968747
ask for blood clams. if they have it, they'll serve it.
sometimes they'll have fresh lobster. It's like a Chinese seafood place, or a sushi bar, except it's Mexican, and in Bell. Ask for the specials. If you're into "fusion", try the dressed oysters. they carry a hint of soy sauce.
The strength, beyond the ceviches, absolutely lays in the overwhelming selection of aguachiles, caldos, and zarandeados.That, Cevihceria (nor Coni) can even come close. There is no other mariscos place in LA that is more complete than El Coraloense. None. And it doesn't matter if "Sergio" there, because the entire Curie clan cooks.
It is too bad the Downey partnership went up in smokes. The open grill station was just a brilliant thing that one will never find at L&E/Blue Plate/Connie-Ted.