Cimaco Gourmet Restaurant: Something Different, with A/C

Greg and I have wanted to go to the restaurant in Cimaco, the department store in the Gran Plaza, ever since it opened. We figure that up there on the second floor, with all those windows and that terrace, it must be a pretty good view. And as we are quickly approaching the heat of summer, the air conditioning didn’t sound bad, either.

The interior is modern and fresh—they call it European style—and the views are spacious. We were delighted to find a menu offering a selection of foods we don’t regularly find in Mazatlán, including loads of great salads and international main dishes. Cimaco Gourmet has a pizza oven, and on Tuesdays if you buy a large pizza you get a small one free. They also offer a variety of custom, non-alcoholic drinks, served in cool Mason jars, and have a respectable wine selection and full bar.

Cimaco Gourmet is open from breakfast (I believe they said 8 am) through 11 pm, and the terrace will be especially inviting on a summer evening. The restaurant has a full bakery on site. While we didn’t try any bread, pie, cake or pastries, I will say they looked really good! Again, quite international, not just the traditional Mexican baked goods. By the way, the department store sells its bread half price after 8 pm, and it has quite a few bread options with Splenda instead of sugar.

Click on any photo below to view it larger or see a slideshow.

The store has a children’s play area right next to the restaurant, with supervision. You can pay to leave kids or grandkids there while you shop anywhere in the mall, and your first hour is free if shopping at Cimaco.

Greg and I found Cimaco Gourmet a welcome addition to the restaurant scene here in town. When you’re looking for something different, for a bit of space so you don’t have to sit on top of someone else, or when you’re looking for some good air conditioning and a view, check it out and let us know what you think.

Wonderful Mezcal Tasting, Right Here in Mazatlán

P1250590

Heiman presents, with Chef Alastair at his side

Last week we attended a mezcal tasting at Water’s Edge Bistro, that very beautiful, tranquil and delicious restaurant in Centro Histórico at Sixto Osuna 48, on the corner of Niños Heroes.

Heiman Russek Negrete, from Mezcal Minotauro, joined us from Durango. Mezcal Minotauro distills organic mezcales made with wild agaves/maguey plants. Heiman gave us a brief presentation on the history of mezcal, in very good English, shared with us information on the types of magueys, the states in Mexico that are authorized to use the appellation “mezcal,” and he also told us a bit about the production process. One cool bit of trivia I learned was that Minotauro has been able to play a role in saving a couple of species of maguey that were thought to be lost. He also showed us what he said is his favorite book on mezcal. I took a photo of its cover, so if you are interested, you can look into obtaining it.

Heiman had four different mezcals to share with us. Chef Alastair and sous-chef Tony put together three small plates for us that were magnificent, and combined well with the mezcales. The first mezcal was white, young, and accompanied by a jicama taco of aguachile. The second mezcal was actually my favorite; the botana served with it was a mini-tostada with shredded meat—very savory. Unbelievably to me, I don’t have a photo of the second flight, but it was delicious. I guess I was enjoying it too much to fuss with the camera! The third mezcal was also very good. We drank it with shrimp and grilled vegetables on toast points. Heiman then served us a fourth mezcal as well. After that, I guarantee you I wasn’t taking any more photos! Click on any photo below to enlarge it or view it as a slideshow. The food was all outstanding, the event was very enjoyable, and what a value at 200 pesos!

We love Water’s Edge. Alastair Porteous is a terrific chef who believes in farm-to-table sourcing, and his wife, Tracey Grantham, very ably runs the front of the house. It doesn’t hurt that another of our favorite local chefs, Tony Acuña Pérez, is the sous-chef. We also love the ambiance: the restaurant is in an historic home that was restored by Mark Jay. It is spacious, with two large rooms and a gorgeous private patio in the back. They have a stellar dinner menu, and lunch specials that are unbelievable values: drink, salad and main course for 100 pesos! Water’s Edge serves Sunday brunch, and Alastair conducts cooking classes. Tracey tells me that for Carnavál they are going to have some small foods outside, with easy-to-eat-and-go convenience for revelers. The restaurant will also, of course, be open.

I urge you both to enjoy Water’s Edge, supporting high quality local cuisine, and to get on their list for special events. We really enjoyed the evening, and learned a lot as well. Plus, we are now looking forward to a mezcal tour of Durango, with a most amiable host and his wife!

P1250608

 

Restaurant Review: Del Pueblo y Para el Pueblo

2.IMG_0165

Del Pueblo al Pueblo, north side of Agenda Insurgentes, just east of the malecón

The Estero del Camarón, the estuary along Avenida Insurgentes, just east of the malecón, has long been a muse for me, a natural reprieve amidst the urban activity. Back when I drove Danny to school I passed by it daily, and, living so close by, we still pass by it almost every day in the course of our activities. The reflections of the sky in the lagoon, and the sight of the birds sunning themselves, make for an oasis in the middle of the city.

A few of years ago a restaurant went in on the north side of the road. Gradually, Del Pueblo y Para el Pueblo has encroached on the estero, much to my dismay. Such seems to be the way of things here. We ate at this small restaurant a few times after they first opened. We loved the location, the nature surrounding us as we ate, the sound of the birds in the trees and the water. The food, however, was nothing to rave about. I took photos, but never blogged about it; it just was not good enough.

The last couple of times we’ve eaten here, however, it’s been for breakfast. And their breakfast rocks! Maybe their food overall has improved. Lord knows they have developed the space very well. At first it was just the small building with a couple of outdoor tables. Then they put up tarps to separate the space from the street and give diners some privacy. Then they put up a tarp roof, followed by pavers for the patio, and, finally, a more permanent (tarp fastened to beams) roof. Next came a sound system, and now they have two full hot tables for breakfast buffet on Saturday and Sunday (8 am till noon), plus a rolling grill on which to cook eggs to order. The chilaquiles de camarón/shrimp chilaquiles are to die for! And they have a healthy plate as well (egg white omelet with nopales/prickly pear cactus, salsa and a bit of queso fresco)!

Breakfast is served from the buffet (95 pesos) or off the menu (average price 75-80 pesos, including juice or coffee and fresh fruit). The lunch menu includes the standard items you’d expect in a small roadside place. The bathroom is indoors, and has a functioning sink, soap and towels. One of the waiters speaks English well, and the owner does a bit.

The views are really pleasant. We definitely enjoy having breakfast at Del Pueblo al Pueblo. If you’re looking for a simple place, with a gorgeous view, something a bit different than our killer ocean views, Del Pueblo al Pueblo may just fit the bill. Check it out and please, let me know what you think.

 

Bento Grill: Worthwhile East Asian Food

IMG_0605

If you read this blog you know I crave Asian food. I make it at home, but finding good Asian food in a restaurant here (I know you all have your favorite Chinese place) is not easy. My favorite sushi place (Mahi Sushi), which opened with huge success, has sadly fired their chef in an effort to save costs, and the food is definitely not what it was originally. Bummer!

This past week we visited a new place, owned by a Korean-American guy from Orange County, Brad. He also owns the yoghurt place in La Comercial Mexicana/MEGA. It’s called “Bento Grill,” “box lunch” in Japanese, and is housed where Boba Tea/Saigon Sandwiches used to be. Sad loss of great noodles and bubble tea now that that’s gone!

Anyway, Bento Grill is offering up a few different kinds of bento-box lunches that include a deliciously spicy miso soup, and in the box lunch itself salad, kimchi, fried shrimp, white rice, and your choice of main dish. I had bulgogi beef (ribeye) and Greg tried the spiced pork, which we both very much enjoyed. The menu also includes short ribs and chicken bento boxes, as well as okonomiyaki/seafood pancake, and tacos made from the same Korean-spiced meats. The bento boxes were 120 pesos and very hearty and tasty, and we really loved the soup, too. Greg and I both took some home as there was too much food.

Bento Grill is well worth checking out if you have a craving for some Korean flavors in your day. They have indoor, air conditioned seating, which is so important this time of year, both upstairs and down. Brad told me we are all welcome to bring our own bottle (wine, alcohol, beer) to enjoy with our meal. The restaurant is open noon to 10:00 pm every day except Monday. Located at Camarón Sábalo #552, just north of Munchkins and across from and north of Dairy Queen. Telephone 669 913 0787

FINALLY! Love from a sushi-snob, right here in Mazatlán

1525298_332999673504852_1928518310_n

Photo from the Mahi Sushi Facebook page

It all began with a photo on Facebook, similar to the one above, posted by my friend Gaby. Since she lives much of the year in southern California, home of some awesome sushi, her message definitely got my attention:

“Deliiiiiiiciosoooo! Vengan a #mahisushibistro. Hiper recomendado! #visitamazatlan”

“Where is it, Gaby?” I quickly texted, and it turns out this magical Mahi Sushi Bistro (01 669 983 2801) is practically right next door to me, on Avenida del Mar in the former coffee shop site between the Hotel Don Pelayo and Hotel Amigos Plaza. Because today I am mourning the departure of my cousins who were visiting us for Christmas, we attempted to cheer ourselves up by trying this place.

And—oh my—what a place it is! Everything we were served was a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds! And SUCH generous portions! We waddled out, as the taste was so good we couldn’t stop ourselves from finishing all that we were served.

With the abundant fresh-caught fish and seafood we have available to us here in Mazatlán, it makes sense that we have sushi shops on every corner. But I’ve tried many of them, and am in love with none. I will admit that, after living so many years in Japan and commuting there for over half of my life, I am a bit of a sushi snob. Cream cheese does NOT belong in quality sushi, IMHO, and sushi menus should NOT be comprised of all cooked rather than raw fish! Don’t even get me started on the mayonnaise and kamaboko (surimi) that most Mazatlecos put in sushi rolls.

While Mahi Sushi is most definitely not the traditional sushi I know and crave,  I definitely agree with my friend: do yourself a favor and check it out!

They advertise themselves as a fusion of Japanese cuisine and Sea of Cortés flavors. The menu includes fresh sashimi, some standard nigiri, a few cooked dishes, and a creative variety of sushi rolls filled with lobster, prawns, crab, mahi-mahi, sword fish, tuna, octopus, eel, oysters, marlin, masago, and roe. Add to that mango, avocado, chambray onions, and cilantro; topped with sauces such as ponzu, Thai-style green curry, or ginger dressing; and garnished with peppers (jalapeños, serranos, habaneros, Caribbean escafaldo), garlic chips, green tea salt, or black and white sesame seeds… the heady combination of international flavors made me feel that I’d died and gone to heaven! I owe you, Gaby dear!

Sous chef Jorge

Sous chef Jorge and a sample of the generous portions

Chef Ricardo worked at Nick-san in Los Cabos. We are so fortunate that he has brought his eye for flair and his excellent taste to Mazatlán! He has taught his sous-chef, Jorge, who prepared all our food today, impressively well. Mahi Sushi is owned by Carlos Moreno, who is currently out of town for the holiday.

When we sat down, so many things on the menu looked so good that we were befuddled what to order. The waiter brought us over a tasting of the Sashimi Currican: spicy kani (the imitation crab made from fish cake) and avocado topped with thin slices of mahi-mahi, yuzu (soy sauce mixed with yuzu citrus fruit), and black and white sesame seeds. Oh so good! Next up were the dumplings we’d ordered as an appetizer—filled with ground smoked pork and vegetables, covered in a house sauce, served on a bed of lettuce with a beautiful fresh beet garnish.

I ordered a Mango Roll (below): spicy crab and prawn tempura wrapped in colorful soy paper, topped with fresh mango and serrano pepper. I would add that this roll did include cream cheese, which it did not need, and which was not noted on the menu. The sous chef told me it’s their only roll that includes cream cheese, unluckily for me. Other than that, the dish was superb.

Our son Danny, who always orders the best thing at the table, did so again today (below). Every one of us sopped up the incredible sauce from this dish! Crab, shrimp tempura, cilantro, mango and  avocado in a soy paper-wrapped rice roll, placed on a bed of Thai green curry sauce. This was completely to die for!

Greg ordered fried rice, which was also very good. All of this was obviously way too much food for three people, though it was all so good that not a grain of rice remained on any plate. The waiter, however, brought us a second tasting: Sashimi Black and White—thin slices of sword fish, black and white sesame seeds, purple onion relish, a crisp-fried slice of garlic, and a bit of curry oil, served on a bed of ponzu. This too was awesome.

Sashimi Black and White

Sashimi Black and White

The interior of Mahi Sushi is simple, clean, bright and pleasant.

The views from the restaurant are direct to the ocean, the islands, and downtown, looking past the cars on the Avenue, of course.

I was enthralled with Mahi Sushi, and hope it will succeed. It is a wonderful addition to our local restaurant scene. Because it’s a new place, and the staff seems dedicated and enthusiastic, I’d like to offer a few small (nitpick but important) suggestions in hopes that they might be helpful.

  1. With a place of this caliber and this price point (on the high end for Mazatlán), please purchase some chopstick rests (or chopstick “pillows,” as we say in Japanese). Otherwise the waiters have to touch our chopsticks as they clear the dishes, which is far from ideal. The rests would also add a quality look to the table setting.
  2. The climate here in Mazatlán demands coasters for cold drink glasses, or the table quickly becomes flooded. I improvised both the rests and the coasters for us today (photo below).
  3. The generous dish of shouga/pickled ginger and the beautiful serving of wasabi were terrific. I was disappointed, however, that just like every other sushi place in town, I had to ask for wasabi in order to get it. If these gorgeous dishes were served without the customer having to specially request them, wouldn’t that be wonderful? Maybe that’s too wasteful for those who don’t eat them?
  4. PLEASE purchase some green tea and a teapot! 😉

I do hope that Mahi Sushi Bistro meets with much success. They already appear to get quite crowded in the evening, and with a young, hip crowd of clientele. Let us hope!

NOTE: Each time we write about a restaurant, we receive requests and suggestions for other restaurants to review. VidaMaz does not write restaurant reviews. We write about our every day life here, as expats in Mazatlán (“la vida Mazatleca”). If we happen upon a restaurant, bar or shop that we love or think is noteworthy, we often publish about it (if our busy lives permit). We trust you’ll understand.