Monday, May 27, 2013

Oyamel in Penn Quarter



I’ve only experienced Oyamel once, and from what I’ve seen and sampled, Oyamel will stay busy for a long time.  I was fortunate enough to be part of a fairly large entourage when visiting, so even with reservations, there was some wait time before we were seated.  Wait time doesn’t phase me, especially when I’m in good company, but at Oyamel we had the added bonus of good drink.  We ordered a pitcher of Blood Orange Chile Pequin, and were we ever so glad we did.  Ms. Classy was a little hesitant, but became a fan of the drink after the first sip.  It is a refreshing citrus margarita, but the pequin puts a zing that warms your lips and will make your tongue ask for more.  We all really enjoyed the flavorful complexity of this drink.
Soon after our unanimous approval of our drinks, we were shown to our table (time really flies when you’re drinking) where the next delight was brought to us.  The chips and salsa are the best chips and salsa on earth, no exceptions.  The chips alone, which are complimentary, would make an enjoyable snack without a salsa sidekick, but that salsa is out of this world (first round of salsa is free, two big ones if you want more).  The fresh and smoky flavor is everything anyone could ever hope for in a salsa.  So far, this looked to be a stellar meal.

          Next, we had the difficult task of selecting from the menu options.  Oyamel is a small-plate establishment so it can get pricy quickly.  The upside is that everybody shares and you’re not stuck with one selection, especially when someone else’s looks so much more appetizing.  Since an order of everything with a side order of everything was out of my price range, I narrowed it down to three: the camarones al mojo de ajo negro (shrimp sautéed with shallots, arbol chile, poblano pepper, lime and sweet aged black garlic), the cochinita pibíl con cebolla en escabeche (a taco containing Yucatan-style pit barbecued pork with pickled red onion and Mexican sour orange) and the the col de bruselas estilo San Quintín (crispy brussels sprouts with a chile de arbol sauce, pumpkin seed, peanuts and lime).  I love shrimp, and as long as they’re cooked to perfection, which they were at Oyamel, I could enjoy them without any seasoning or sauce.  And those Brussels sprouts; the outer crisp with the mixture of flavors really put this dish in the top percentile of all Brussels sprouts dishes ever served in all restaurants anywhere.  My only disappointment was the taco.  The description sounds irresistible, so I had no choice but to order it.  Unfortunately, it came off as quite dry.  I can assume that’s how it was supposed to be prepared and I just made the unfortunate discovery that I’m not a fan of that style.  Ms. Classy ordered the same taco, and shared the same sentiment.  However, she had since revisited Oyamel and ordered the Pancita de puerco al pastor taco (seared house-cured pork belly in a sauce of tomatoes and guajillo chiles, served with pineapple, onions and cilantro) and said the pork belly was to die for.
          The next time I’m fortunate enough to visit Oyamel, I will go for the pork belly taco and definitely order the Brussels sprouts.  However, I think I’ll branch out and try something other than the shrimp.  Not that they weren’t great, but I should expand my horizons a bit.

-Mr. Cheap Eats

Oyamel on Urbanspoon


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