In late 2021, Mexican American entrepreneur Roberto Pérez got a tip from friends about a street vendor in Vernon making some very good ceviches. Pérez, whose mother was born in Nayarit (a region known for some of Mexico’s best seafood), was blown away by this man serving ceviches from an ice chest on the street. The vendor, Francisco Leal, turned out to be a native of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, known across Mexico as a destination for seafood in its own right, a place where chefs often train for years before getting to work in cold and hot bars (barra fría and barra caliente). Leal had worked for 17 years at the Pizzeta Restaurant Group in Culiacán while receiving several diplomas in international cuisines, and he had even opened a now-closed sushi restaurant of his own in La Paz, Baja California. Impressed, Pérez and Leal formed a partnership, and in February of this year they opened Del Mar Ostioneria, a game-changing food truck serving high-end Sinaloa-style seafood with a Japanese touch.
Pérez used a family connection to secure a clean, tan-wrapped food truck that bore the restaurant’s logo and a few line drawings of seafood. The pair were even able to secure a central landing spot for the rig, parking the truck in a Miracle Mile area strip mall parking lot that belongs to Pérez’s father-in-law. The strip mall on La Brea is full of Latino and Asian-owned businesses, making it the ideal setting for dreamy raw oysters, ceviches, aguachiles, and sashimis served on the street.
So far, the offerings have proven to be rather unique. Del Mar Ostioneria might be the only Mexican food truck in LA carrying kusshi (British Columbia), kumiai (Baja California), and Pacific coast kumamoto oysters. The fresh oysters get a few drops of housemade ponzu sauce, finely diced cucumber, tomato, red onion, and tobiko (flying fish roe), and are eaten by the plateful. The same ponzu sauce pairs with sashimi, including freshly sliced tuna topped with thin rings of chile serrano, tobiko, horseradish sprouts, and ginger. There are seven different ceviches available, each formed into rings, like a spicy raw tuna that balances peppery horseradish sprouts, pickled ginger, sliced avocado, a dash of chiltepín powder, and a fine, crispy garnish of fried leeks. Each ceviche is meant to be eaten with tostadas or saltines.
Elsewhere on the menu, diners can delight in an aguachile negro that comes with a black umami sauce dusted with chiltepín powder, while the aguachile habanero comes in a mango-habanero salsa that brings the heat. For those that are sensitive to spicy food, the sweeter aguachile tamarindo is the way to go.
The menu is rounded out by seafood tacos served on non-GMO blue corn tortillas, oyster and seafood shots, Mexican seafood cocktails made with sushi-grade kani (imitation crab), and cooked shrimp tostadas with chipotle mayo. Think of the latter as a Mexican-style, rice-less crab hand roll served on a tostada. It’s a nod to Leal’s love of Japanese flavors and techniques.
Del Mar Ostioneria uses high-quality seafood from both sides of the border with a menu executed by a skilled, veteran chef from Mexico’s top seafood region. Think Nobu meets modern Baja California meets a Culiacán hotspot, and all served from a parking lot on La Brea, making this truck one of the best new seafood stops in Los Angeles.
Del Mar Ostioneria is located at 830 South La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036, and is open Monday to Friday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.