I was invited to a media tasting dinner at Màs Malo, the sister venture to the popular Silver Lake eatery, Malo. Situated in an old jewelry store from the 1920s, the historically preserved opulence served as a splendidly bizarre juxtapose to the Chicano comfort food Chef Robert Luna boasts.
Habanero Creme – Black Bean – Guacamole – Salsa
We started our evening in The Vault – where precious gems were once stored, now a private room perfect for small parties or a private little pre-dinner mixer with chips and dips, as we used it for. The clear favorite of the evening was the habanero creme, though I liked to include a dollop of black bean dip for depth and contrast.
Tequila Blanco – lime juice – agave
This was smooth and light, though I the agave was easily detected by a distinct sweetness I normally do not attribute to margaritas. By contrast, the salted rim packed a powerful punch; I think it was their chile lime salt. Whatever it was, it was tasty and went well with the agave.
I am soy-sensitive and never cared for tofu as a substitute for meat, though the broth was tasty, especially with a squeeze of the provided lime wedge. I would still like to try the real deal menudo one day.
Kale + Seed Salad
Pumpkin Seeds | Pistachio dressing
Though the kale salad was mightily refreshing, nothing could top the spinach and Chicarrón. Not surprisingly, I dig the crispy little bits of fried pork skin atop an otherwise healthy salad. There is something so deliciously sinister about it.
Buttermilk Spinach & Corn Pancake
honey-caramelized carnitas | powered sugar
It’s not as if I’m inexperienced with savory pancakes, but this was delightfully unexpected and wildly different. Appropriately enough, this is listed under the brunch section of the menu, and brunch is available at any time. While I could leave or take carnitas in general, the caramelized honey glaze elevated them to the point wherein I cannot imagine this dish without them. I thought one more bite and Angela from I Flip for Food was going to compose a sonnet for the pancake! One bite was enough for me, though, because we had a long way to go.
Cheese Chile Bomba Relleno
I’ve never really been a fan of chile relleno, or big green peppers/salsa verde for that matter, and I have to say that I am still not a fan.
Another soy-based dish I couldn’t get behind. It was popular among the vegetarians, though!
White Wine Sangria
Time for another drink, please. This was a very mild white wine sangria, light and dainty. It was good under the circumstances of having all of this heavy, abundant food, but I would probably go for the red next time for a heftier flavor.
One of my favorite dishes of the evening, the fundido – or fondue – is cheesy, rich and perfect for sharing with friends or going solo in full-on glutton mode. The toasted bread is adequate enough, but for a bonus layer of taste, we started using the chewy chips to dip in the fundido.
They’re nothing spectacular to look at, but these home made chips are flash fried to have a crispy edge and chewy center. Chef Luna said his father used to make these for the family to snack on, and I myself make whole tortillas like this when I make my own taco shells. It is a familiarly welcoming texture. Proceed with caution, though, as these will fill a body up a lot faster than normal chips.
Ground beef and Pickle Tacos
I like beef. I like pickles, even. And I most definitely love crispy shell tacos. Put them together, though, and you have the perfect drinking-night-out cure-all. As my wits about me when these were put before me, however, I just wasn’t into them.
Squash Blossom Taco with Red Onion
The red onion and seasoning combated with the other ingredients and overwhelmed my taste buds. Sadly, not my favorite.
Chicken in Mole Poblano
Once, twice, three times is supposed to be the charm but alas, this was my third and dare I say final time I will try mole. Just not really my cuppa. This is strictly a personal preference; others at the dinner were head over heels for this dish.
Blasted 1/2 Baby Chicken with apricot sauce
My favorite dish of the evening, hands down. Chicken so moist and tender I found it near impossible to believe it had been baked boneless, but I heard it from Chef himself! The sauce was an amazing apricot base and I yearn to replicate it. Another beloved dish from Chef Robert Luna’s childhood, whose skill and talent keep the memories and flavor of his East L.A. upbringing alive.
515 W. 7th Street – 1st Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Friday & Saturday: 10a-2a
Disclosure: The meal was on the house, but all opinions remain my own.