February 15th 2011
- Restaurant: Mo-Chica Restaurant
- City, State: Los Angeles, CA
- Why :He’s AmazingBecause he elevates his Japanese-inflected Peruvian cuisine to such heights that he’s drawing high-minded foodies to his food-court restaurant located in a market.
- Background: Wabi-Sabi, Zu Robata (Los Angeles); Aykoku Kaku (London)
- Culinary school: Westminster Kingsway College’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts, London.
- Must-try Dish: Ceviche, like tuna with vinegar emulsion, red onion and corn.
- First professional cooking experience: In Lima, Peru. “I was 16 years old, I made a banquet for a big corporation. I happened to know the guy and I said, ‘I can do it.’ I cooked in my house for 600 people. I don’t know how I did it.”
- First experience with sashimi”I was eating at my friend’s house [in Lima], and I tried one dish, and I really loved it. I didn’t know I was eating sashimi. It was octopus with shoyu and wasabi.”
4th Best New Restaurant in Los Angeles
A food stall, a tony Beverly Hills outpost, a high-volume hot spot downtown—these ten delicious debuts are a cheeky bunch. They’ve crossed borders and fused cultures, pushing our palates with offerings like head cheese while blowing us away with hand-torn pastas and the ultimate ceviche. Which neighborhood boasts four of the finest?
A food stand tucked in the Mercado La Paloma, Mo-Chica is Ricardo Zarate’s first restaurant, but with such talent, he’s bound to move on to bigger things. A longtime sushi chef (he also works at Wabi-Sabi in Venice), he deploys the clarity of the Japanese aesthetic to capture the simmered soulfulness of traditional Peruvian food. His quinoa preparations—a fresh salad and a risotto—are stellar, and the sautéed beef, which he stokes with a fiery sauce and tops with thinly sliced onions, is remarkable for its ability to be hearty while keeping flavors distinct. However, nothing on the short menu can match the ceviche. Blended with seaweed, chiles, and diced camote (a kind of sweet potato), then contrasted with hominy-like kernels, the fish is thickly cut and only lightly marinated. A compression of Peru’s multilayered cultures—Inca with a dash of Nisei—it is the city’s definitive ceviche.