Mexican meets Japanese? It works, somehow, at this fusion newbie. Tom is pleasantly surprised.
Los Mochis is, according to the website, ‘the ultimate pan-Pacific pairing of Mexican and Japanese cuisine’. Dear god, what fresh hell is this? As if we haven’t all suffered enough, then along comes a new restaurant threatening to mash two of the world’s most thrilling cuisines into one half-witted, leaden-palated, presumably Instagram-able mess. The horror.
So pen sharpened, delicate culinary sensibilities primed to be oh-so offended, and ghast very much flabbered, we march upon Los Mochis, tucked away in a pretty street behind West London’s Notting Hill Gate, growling ‘Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)’ with a steely glint in our eyes. But before the rout commences, a decent margarita from the lovely waiter. And as we settle into our table, half inside, half out, a balmy breeze cutting through the sultry night, irritation slowly softens. The bare brick walls and vaguely psychedelic portraits of Santa Muerte, Frida Kahlo and, er, Yoda certainly look more attractive as the natural light fades. And even at 6.30, the whole place is bathed in a blissfully happy hubbub. It feels like, well, old times.
The food is far better than expected. No birria ramen or natto-stuffed chillies, rather a menu firmly divided into sashimi, tacos, ceviches and maki rolls. But am I not being prissily close-minded? Maybe it’s the second margarita kicking in, but haven’t Peruvian and Japanese food been beautifully melded together, as Nikkei cuisine, for decades? And Roy Choi, among others, shows exactly what fun the marriage of Mexican and Korean can be.
That, though, is for another time and place. Fish quality is excellent, the o’toro sashimi lavishly rich and gloriously fatty. OK, so Jiro might not be dreaming of the knife skills, but they’re good enough. There’s a bracing seabass ceviche, pert and sharp, and a soft, subtle tuna tartare. Tortillas and salsas are made fresh, always the sign of a place that takes tacos seriously. Cabo fish taco, carnitas and al pastor are more than respectable. By now, the place is throbbing, and any initial misgivings have long since disappeared.
If you’re after authentic regional cooking, then you may be disappointed. But if it’s good tacos and sashimi, cracking cocktails and a merry night out, you’re very much in luck. Los Mochis is a blast.
About £40 per head. Los Mochis, 2-4 Farmer Street, London W8; losmochis.co.uk.
DRINKS: Olly’s South African fine fizz
Cap Classique is celebrating 50 years of South Africa’s unique fine fizz. This bottle-fermented wine with rich, rampaging flavours and lively bubbles is South Africa’s fastest growing wine category. It takes time to make a bottle – the minimum has just gone up to 12 months – and as far as grapes go, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir tend to be the leading lights. Pop a bottle and raise a glass on your next sunny picnic!
WINE OF THE WEEK: SIMONSIG KAAPSE VONKEL 2019 (12%), £12.95, leaandsandeman.co.uk. Terrific value for a fine fizz balanced with vibrant refreshment and rich aromas.
BOSCHENDAL CHARDONNAY-PINOT NOIR BRUT (12.5%), £15, thewinebox.co.uk. Lemony flavours with bold bubbles, this is a top fizz to pair with nibbles or canapés.
GRAHAM BECK BLANC DE BLANCS 2016 (12.5%), £17.50, vinvm.co.uk. Brioche aromas, umami richness and bright delicious invigoration. Splendid fizz.
BON COURAGE JACQUES BRUÉRE 2012 (11.5%), £17.99, thewinereserve.co.uk. Silky and rich, this is amazing bubbly to sip with comté cheese.
VILLIERA TRADITION BRUT NV (12%), £17.99, handford.net. Impressive depth with broad flavours and savoury splendour, this is up there with the best bubbly.