Wednesday, June 03, 2009
If I had to choose my favorite non-fish seafood, it would be shrimp all the way and if you're a shrimp lover like me, than Mariscos Chente should be on your to go list. I had actually paid a visit to the Marsicos Chente location in Lennox a few months back and loved my meal there, so I was really interested in seeing if the consistency would be the same at their other location in Mar Vista. Bill aka Street Gourmet LA made all the arrangements for our meal there and what a feast it was. To learn more about the Sinaloan cooking represented at Mariscos Chente, read Bill's post here.
Our meal started with a shot of Tequila, straight from Tijuana, and also a popular Mexican cocktail made with Squirt, tequila and salt. Interestingly enough, that cocktail tasted just like a margarita on the rocks without having to use a margarita mix.
First to arrive at our table were individual shrimp tamales. Inside each tamal were two whole, cooked and unshelled shrimp. Some ate their entire tamal, including the shrimp, from head to tail while others ate selective parts of their shrimp with the masa. The shrimp were cooked just right and retained its sweetness while the masa was moist and had a light; yet, dense texture to it that I liked.
Up next was a plate that included the Ceviche de Aguachile and the Ceviche de Camaron, which were both raw seafood preparations. This is my second time having the Ceviche de Aguachile and second time around, it was just as good. That lime-jalapeno salsa was both tart and spicy and the freshness of the shrimp was quite evident to my taste buds. One thing to mention is that the Owner, Magadelana, purchases their shrimp and other seafood directly from Mazatlan every week and brings it through customs to the US. I have to give her props for really caring about the quality of the seafood she brings to her restaurant.
As for the Ceviche de Camaron, it was my least favorite of everything we tried. The quality of the ingredients showed through, but taste-wise, it was a bit bland. On its own, it probably would have been fine, but when eaten with the stronger flavors of the Ceviche de Aguachile, it lost something in the translation.
After our raw sampling, it was time for 3 different cooked shrimp dishes with 3 different sauces, which included the Shrimp a la Pimienta, the Shrimp Borachos and the Shrimp a la Diable. Other than the shrimp, the common ingredient across all three was butter. This was my second time having the Shrimp a la Pimienta, which was cooked with chili and black pepper. I love black pepper so this was easily my favorite of the 3.
The Shrimp Borachos consisted of deep fried shrimp sauteed with tequila, garlic, cilantro and Worcestershire sauce (Salsa de Ingleterra). I enjoyed the fact that shrimp wasn't too over fried and even with the sauce, it still retained a little bit of crispiness.
Last, but not least, was the Shrimp a la Diable which was shrimp cooked with butter, nuevo mexico chile and chile de arbol. Of all the shrimp dishes on the menu, this one was supposed to be the spiciest. What I liked about the Shrimp a la Diable was that flavor wasn't sacrificed for heat. With the shrimp being cooked in butter, there are buttery aspects to the sauce, but the chilies that were used also added some smokiness that really livened up my palate.
The grand finale for the meal was their Pescado Zarandeado, a Snook fish grilled with a marinade made of butter, soy sauce, chioptle and Mandarin orange juice. It came with a dipping sauce of butter, red onions and Worcestershire sauce. My favorite whole fish dish is the Bangus, a Filipino fish that is marinated in vinegar and than grilled. It still is my favorite, but this Pescado Zarandeado came really close to jumping to that top spot. How can you resist a fish that tastes fatty, buttery, salty, a little spicy and also has citrus notes? The sweet-saltiness of the sauce which reminded me a little of Filipino adobo sauce also complemented the Snook really well. Overall, if you're coming in with a group of two or more, this fish is a must order.
Technically, our meal was over, but a few of us stayed afterwards to chat and were treated to raw sea snails and scallops seasoned with lime and chili pepper. I've had raw scallops before and it's been a hit and miss experience with the miss happening when a scallop tasted a bit slimy. Yuck! However, these scallops had a clean texture with a little hint of sweetness. This was my first experience with raw sea snails and they had a chewy texture and strangely enough, tasted like cheese. I prefer them cooked in soup, which I've had in the past at Vietnamese restaurants.
Overall, my 2nd time around at Mariscos Chente was just as good as my first visit. I was able to re-visit a couple of dishes that I really enjoyed and was able to sample a few new ones that I savored to the last bite. Like La Casita, Mariscos Chente has really expanded my view of what Mexican cuisine is all about and I look forward to sampling more on future visits.
To see all the pics, go to:
4532 S. Centinela Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90066