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Jonathan Gold Talks Up Ugly Delicious in El Coraloense Review

And likens the aguachile to something out of “Alien”

El Coraloense
Ceviche from El Coraloense
Eli M./Yelp

This week, Jonathan Gold returns to review Los Angeles-area restaurants with his take on El Coraloense, the Nayarit-Sinaloan restaurant in Bell Gardens. The Goldster calls the aguachile at the seafood-centric eatery the epitome of “ugly delicious”, the catch phrase coined by David Chang and his new Netflix show of the same name:

The marinade — you get your choice of chiles — is murky, tinged brown with soy sauce. And the raw shrimp themselves have been hit with citrus just long enough to seal them within opaque membranes that make them look like either larval insects or forgotten pig glands: pale, wrinkly lobes that would look right at home bursting out of a distended belly in “Alien.” [LAT]

As non-photogenic as it may be, there’s no doubt it is the star of the show at the restaurant:

But that aguachile? Ugly but so delicious. It is Curie’s aesthetic choice, that extra bit of time in the marinade. And when you bite into those withered-looking shrouds of flesh — pop! — there is garlic and heat, a rush of juice, and an emphatic flavor that you don’t usually get with finer-looking, mushier takes on the dish. It’s pretty spectacular, in any of the five available versions. I like the salty, spicy, slightly smoky one the menu calls ahogados. Someday I will work my way up to the incendiary one they call 911 (HOT!). [LAT]

And while the Times critic also recommends the changito tostada, Luna de Miel seafood cocktail, and taco a la diabla, the dish that may be the most well known in the Nayarit/Sinaloan playbook, pescado zarandeado, doesn’t fare so well here:

If you are familiar with the Nayarit/Sinaloan seafood at places like Coni’Seafood and Mariscos Chente, a lot of the El Coraloense menu will seem familiar. [...] There is even a take on the famous slow-grilled pescado zarandeado, although El Coraloense’s version, made with tilapia instead of snook, isn’t quite up to speed. (Curie also seems to use a disconcerting amount of imitation crab and abalone, although they are clearly labeled on the menu and easy to avoid.)

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