Jonathan Gold steps into the new iteration of Mo-Chica on Seventh Street, where the cocktails are great, the atmosphere definitive of “the downtown thing,” and Ricardo Zarate’s Peruvian fare is still fresh and progressive. Except that is, when it’s notably “transgressive” and serving you alpaca, carapulcra, and paiche, that delicious river monster with the soft, jiggly give of black cod and a flavor in common with that of Chilean seabass.
While the food coming from a favorite L.A. “chef’s chef” is still thrilling and beyond, Gold thinks something was lost in translation, as everyone knows he’d probably prefer to eat in a South L.A. swap meet than a trendy restaurant set abuzz with mixology and mixed singles any day. Calling the original Mo-Chica “one of my favorite restaurants” and recalling the appearance of sushi-grade fish squeezed into Mercado Paloma, he bemoans, “Rendered half-size, exquisitely plated and served as a succession of small plates, they are not lesser, perhaps, but they may be less meaningful,” though he does see a new sheen in Zarate’s quinotto and deems the chef’s “elevated” cooking deserving of its “stage.”
Counter Intelligence: At modern Mo-Chica, the alpaca question [LAT]