MexiKosher: Can Kosher Carnitas Be Any Good?
MexiKosher: The name alone inspires skepticism. Open since July along the booming Kosher Corridor, the casual Mexican eatery with the cutesy portmanteau delivers what it promises: tacos and burritos, carne asada and birria, salsa and guacamole, all under Kehilla kosher supervision. But can it possibly be any good?
Guzzle & Nosh Mexikosher: ceviche (left), beef & duck carnitas tacos (top right), chicken wings (bottom right).
Born to a Japanese father and Mexican mother, chef Katsuji Tanabe relocated to L.A. and after a stint in culinary school, ended up in the kitchen of Shiloh's, a kosher steakhouse only a few blocks west of MexiKosher. While there, Tanabe won over skeptical diners -- and kosher inspectors -- with his "bacon" cheeseburger. Why not follow that up with kosher carnitas? It's not impossible. Better than that, they're actually quite good.
Everything is solid at MexiKosher (though $2-3 more than you'd pay at a comparable non-kosher Mexican restaurant), but their best dish, perhaps surprisingly, is carnitas. Here, it's no slow-cooked pork shoulder. It's a tasty, succulent mix of beef and duck, with just the right amount of fat. Order it and Tanabe or one of the line cooks will pile a heap of the carnitas on the tree stump that serves as a cutting board and chop it into soft, dripping bits and piled with pickled onions, cilantro and pico de gallo.
None of the meats are spicy, so if you're looking for heat in your meat, MexiKosher is not that restaurant. The place does, however, have a dozen sauces (that's not hyperbole) you can use to spice up the tacos. (The sweet-hot chipotle is a winner.)
The city's first (and only?) kosher Mexican restaurant isn't any brilliant leap forward in Mexican cuisine, but it is solid, tasty Mexican food for a demographic that deserves more diverse and compelling dining options.
BONUS: The chicken wings, glazed and sweet with just a bit of spice, are a winner.