Bruce's Blog

a handful of dimes and a jukebox

Restaurante Guelaguetsza1It’s a special Friday edition of My Thursday Lunch, since yesterday was Thanksgiving. So today I had the pleasure of my wife joining me, since we both have the day off work. One of the interesting benefits of doing these Thursday lunches is seeing parts of LA that I normally don’t see, since my normal routes through LA are quite predictable. But LA is a big place, and even though my wife has lived in the LA area all her life, some of these neighborhoods are new to both of us.  My wife *loves* public transportation, and was very excited to see some bus routes in the neighborhood that she’d never seen before.  Whatever turns you on, I guess.  🙂

Anyway, I selected Restaurante Guelaguetsza, which is an  Oaxacan restaurant.  You might ask yourself, “What in the heck is Oaxacan”?   And moreover, if you’re like me, how in the heck do you pronounce it?  Fortunately Wikipedia does provide a history and an audio pronunciation of Oaxaca.  Even with that, I still have a hard time saying it, but it took me months to be able to properly say Здравствуйте, so all things in good time.

They started us off with some chips with a mole rojo sauce and some kind of cheese on it.  Mole rojo is very complex and wonderful, with Ancho and Guajillo chiles, onion, tomatoes, pecans, peanuts, sesame, garlic, oregano, chocolate.  The chocolate is the most distinctive taste, really, because of the rather unexpected arrival.

Restaurante Guelaguetsza2

My wife ordered Tamal Oaxaqueño de Mole con Pollo, which is banana-leafed tamales.  As they say on the menu, ” Finely ground corn dough packages, filled with shredded chicken in black mole.   Served with rice and black beans. ”

Wikipedia describes mole in this way:  “Mole can be best defined as a very thick, homogeneous sauce with complex flavors. This distinguishes it from most Mexican salsas which have a thinner consistency, often raw, and contain fewer ingredients (usually nothing more than tomato, onion, garlic and chili pepper) in still-identifiable chunks.”

Black mole, or Mole negro is the most difficult to prepare of all mole sauces. Traditionally, black mole has six different kinds of chili peppers, Chilguacle Negro, Mulatto, Pasilla, Ancho, Guajillo, and Chilpotle, although many sauces that carry the name contain fewer. The ingredient list is very long, featuring many seeds, nuts, spices, herbs, and chocolate.  The sauce was mysterious, but surprisingly subtle, as were all the flavors.

One expects Mexican food to be lots of fireworks, but not Oaxacan.  It is  quiet, but more mysterious and smoldering.  The black beans, for example, were pretty much just black beans and they were excellent.

Restaurante Guelaguetsza3

I had Slayuda con Asiento, which is Clayuda spread with special pork fat (Mmmmmm…special pork fat…) flavored bean puree and cheese.  Clayuda, which Wikipedia says is a common misspelling of Tlayuda, is, according to Wikipedia, a part of Mexican cuisine, consisting of a big, crunchy tortilla covered with a spread of refried beans, asiento (unrefined pork lard), lettuce or cabbage, meat (usually shredded chicken, beef tenderloin or pork), Oaxaca cheese or other cheese, and salsa. They are a popular antojito (snack food) in Oaxaca, particularly around Oaxaca City.

It looks, in fact, like pizza.  And it’s huge.  And only $6.50.  I could only finish half, but it was great!  And they were happy to pack up the other half for me to take home.

I ordered this at the recommendation of the waitress, who said that it’s extremely popular.  I can certainly understand why, considering what you get for the cost.  But I think next time I’ll try one of the mole centric dishes.

So, lunch for two + tax and tip for under $20.  Not bad!  My Thursday Lunch approves! 🙂

Restaurante Guelaguetsza
3337 1/2 W. 8th. St.
Los Angeles, CA 90005

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