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Mo Chica: Peruvian restaurant to open in the Mercado La Paloma

March 24, 2009 | 11:09 am

Mochica_2The Mercado La Paloma -- a marketplace at Grand Avenue and 37th Street that houses shops, a bakery and restaurants such as the original Chichen Itza -- is about to add a new tenant: Mo Chica, expected to open April 7.

Peruvian-Japanese chef Ricardo Zarate (of Zu Robata and Sai Sai and previously, Tetsuya in London) and Mario Orellana (who has worked at Gjelina and at Lot 1 when it was helmed by Josef Centeno) have collaborated on a modern take on Peruvian cuisine. "We've been playing around with the idea for some time, and this location came up," Orellana says. "I grew up in this part of L.A., and the area's changing a lot. It's a cool market, and the format works in this economy." (Menu items are priced at below $13.)

Expect a menu that changes daily with a selection of ceviches such as ceviche de lenguado (pictured above) dressed in leche de tigre (a mixture of lime juice and a frothy puree of celery heart, ginger and cilantro) with sweet potato and corn, and other dishes such as carapulcra (dried Peruvian potato with pork belly and a salsa of red onion, tomatoes and lemon) and lamb shank braised with cilantro and dark ale and served with black beans and toasted corn.

The mercado closes at 6:30 p.m., but hours are expected to expand. In the interim, Mo Chica will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily, starting with Peruvian breakfast. 

Mercado La Paloma, 3655 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo courtesy of Mario Orellana