This week, Jonathan Gold is back, talking for the second consecutive week about Mexican seafood. While last week’s subject was “snook whisperer” Sergio Peñuelas, this review centers around chef Gilberto Cetina Jr.’s newest venture, Holbox. If you’re familiar with Centina, it’s likely from his work at the beloved Chichen Itza. Holbox takes over a neighboring stall at the USC-adjacent Mercado La Paloma, a South Central food court, serving up Yucatanean-leaning seafood fare.
To avoid “the general Fear of Missing Out,” you’re likely to end up with most of what’s on the short menu. But with dishes that include “one of the best shrimp cocktails in the city” and an outstanding yellowtail and uni tostada, that’s a wise move:
And the yellowtail-uni ceviche is magnificent. The fish is cut small but not too small, melting into the sharp chile-lime snap of its marinade but still husbanding a bit of chew, a bit of the funky mellowness that made so many of us fall in love with sushi for the first time. There is avocado but not too much; the fruitiness of chile morita but not too much; but a glorious excess of rich, fresh sea urchin roe, five tongues radiating out from the center, that is to the ceviche what the spirit is to the body; the essence that gives purpose to the whole. [LAT]
J. Gold concludes by asking “is transcendence too much to ask from a seafood tostada?” The critic also recommends the blood clams, surf clam, and octopus tacos.