One of the joys of living in Los Angeles is that traffic moves so slowly you can really get a feel for a neighborhood as you crawl your way through it. If you're a passenger in the car, you can hop out and see what it's like to be on the street. After a couple of blocks you can wait for your car to catch up and hop back in.
If you're lucky you'll be doing some of this sightseeing in downtown L.A. -- an area that is in a state of rapid and long-awaited transformation. One sign of that change is the number of new and exciting restaurants that have opened in the past couple of years.
One well worth visiting is Mo-Chica, which defines itself as a “modern Peruvian restaurant”.
The food is very reasonably priced. Chef Ricardo Zarate has created a china plate-presentation, gourmet food establishment in this unlikely surrounding, where one orders at a counter and is served at a nearby table.
Zarate, a Peruvian native influenced by Japanese and French cuisine, has cooked in top hotels and restaurants in the UK and L.A. He has been winning all sorts of awards, including Best Pacific Region New Chef 2011 from Food & Wine Magazine. His experimental Test Kitchen pop-up restaurant, which he opened to huge press and acclaim last summer on the Westside of L.A., was a revolutionary concept. It featured a rotating series of serious chefs and now has been converted into a new Zarate enterprise, Picca.
Each dish on the Mo-Chica menu is a revelation. The oxtail risotto is amazing, the lamb shank and beans are moist, savory and bathed in a delicious sauce, and the star attraction of the lunch is ceviche. Most entrees come with a salad and/or soup.