Chef Ricardo Zarate (Food & Wine “People’s Best New Chef”) is originally from Peru, but I’m certain that part of his soul (like mine) belongs to Japan. For years he worked in Japanese restaurants (including Zuma in London) before opening Mo Chica, his contemporary Peruvian restaurant here in Los Angeles.
I first tasted Zarate’s food at a BreadBar Hatchi dinner last year, and loved the simple beauty of his compositions, as well as the Asian touches he added to his Peruvian cuisine.
Before meeting the chef, I think the only Peruvian food I had tried (besides ceviche) was a post-hangover dish called Lomo Saltado. If you haven’t tried Lomo Saltado, it’s an awesome pile of seasoned beef, tomatoes and onions served with BOTH rice AND french fries.
Ricardo Zarate and I didn’t actually become friends until he and his partners opened Test Kitchen last summer. I LOVED those frenetic months (new chefs & menus every few days) and if my waistline and bank account would’ve allowed it, I’d have dined at Test Kitchen every night. In fact I have so many photos from my visits that I’ve yet to properly blog about it!
Ricardo Cooks For Japan
This Thursday (March 31st), Chef Zarate and partner Stephane Bombet will hold a charity dinner for the victims of Japan. I’ll be there supporting my friends, not only because I was born in Japan (I lived in Okinawa until I was eight), but because Zarate’s tasting dinners are always fantastic. Simply put: Great food + Great cause = a grateful heart and belly.
Zarate will revisit one of his favorite tasting menus at a cost of $45 per diner. With a long history of working in Japanese restaurants, Zarate will donate $10 from every reservation to the country’s relief efforts. As an extra thrill for the town’s food-obsessed, Street Gourmet L.A. blogger and pro saxman Bill Esparza will provide the musical accompaniment with his bossa nova trio Cachaca Nova.
Mo-Chica’s 18th Tasting Dinner
6 Courses for Japan
Thursday, March 31, 2011
3655 S. Grand Ave. (inside Mercado La Paloma)
(213) 747-2141 (reservations will sell out!)
6 Course Menu
YUQUITAS CON POLLO
stuffed yuccas, manchego cheese, crispy chicken, rocoto sauce
scallops strips, spicy lemon dressing, salsa criolla
Peruvian cocktail, ginger juice, ginger ale, pisco brandy
sea bass, tomato stew , crab meat, roasted tomatoes, garbanzos
Peruvian-style crispy pork belly, black mint sauce
Classic Peruvian dessert made of dulce de leche , and short bread
PHOTOS below: In case you’ve never had the pleasure of eating Zarate’s food, here are some of my favorite bites (these are different from Thursdays menu):
Arroz Chaufa De Mariscos: Seafood Fried Rice, Mixed seafood, Daikon Pickle
Causa: Potato Salad, Tiger Prawns, Ocopa Sauce
Tiradito: Japanese Octopus Carpaccio, Peruvian Botija Olive Sauce
Carapulcra: Peruvian Sun Dried Potatoes, Pancetta, Black Cod, Chimichurri
Mate De Coca Ice Cream: Coca IceCream Cinnamon Sponge Cake
Note: Photos above are from my various Mo Chica / Ricardo Zarate dinners. These are NOT on the 3/31 tasting menu. Just samples of his beautiful food.
Mo Chica Website
3655 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Follow Chef Ricardo Zarate on Twitter
Ricardo Zarate’s Bio (Test Kitchen)
Food & Wine “People’s Best New Chef” (LA Weekly)
Zarate at Test Kitchen (by Kevin Eats)
Lomo Saltado at Mario’s Peruvian
More Mo Chica photos on flickr
Street Gourmet L.A
About my early years in Okinawa, Japan
RED CROSS (text donation to help)
Red Cross relief in Japan is more than food and blankets