This pan-pacific restaurant takes creativity and elegance up a notch – along with the prices, but without the ‘adult’ size meal.
Los Mochis, 2-4 Farmer Street, Notting Hill, London, W8 7SN (020 7243 6436). Starters £8 – £12.50; mains £11 – £20; desserts £8.50 – £9.50 and cocktails from £11
‘You get what you pay for’, or so the saying goes. But when it comes to innovation, Notting Hill’s Los Mochis Mexican-Japanese fusion restaurant makes Willy Wonka look like an amateur. Here, restaurateur and owner Markus Thesleff offer Mexican spirit and spice, blended with Japanese elegance and a hefty West London price tag. Having only opened in 2020, following the success of its pop-up taco stand and never heard of a Pan-pacific mix of this food, it sounds like something I might at least try and cry at my bank account later.
On the day I visit with friends, it’s the Euro’s 2020 – England vs Czech Republic. Win this and England moves on to the knockout rounds. Naturally, there are lots of people out full of excitement and anticipation for the game including a large party of 12 at Los Mochis which are shouting at a 9x7in iPad, drowning out the sound of relaxing ambiance music with their ongoing commentary.
The two-storey building is garnished with day-of-the-dead themed artwork to the backdrop of modern, soft grey brick walls and dim lighting. It’s clearly a prime spot for international flavours. The friendly staff welcome us at the door and promptly take us to our table on the first floor. While we’re placed next to the party of 12, staff try to heal that wound with menus and tap water. I order something stronger to take the edge off the ongoing commentary and having to shout across the table to my companions.
We learn that the dishes on the menu are best for sharing. We order a starter to share and four mains based on recommendations from our waiter. From first impressions, the food weighs in heavily with Mexican dishes, using Japanese techniques, rather than vice versa.
The drinks offer strong, punchy flavours. The Los Mochis Tommy’s with Ocho reposado tequila, agave nectar, lime juice, spice rum and salt and Japanese spices around the rim of the small tumbler glass shouldn’t work, but creates a surprising rise of the eyebrows and nod of approval from any customer. The salt and spice around the glass it what sets the drink apart from your average cocktail and the heavy use of tequila greatly encourages you to sip your drink leisurely.
The starters aren’t particularly varied, with only four types of guacamole to choose from. But do show the intended elegance, with dishes harnessing bright colours pretty as a picture. We opt for guacamole paired with the Japanese street food classic snow crab, creating a slightly sweet taste and firm texture to accompany the avocado; lime; smoked paprika and crunchy taco chips. It unapologetically does what it says on the tin, giving you the taste of Latin American and wanting more.
The mains are full of choices, but won’t fill your belly and as a little woman with a small appetite, that says a lot. The staff offer us their recommendations of dishes ranging from miso fish tacos to jalapeño spice maki rolls. Of our choices the teriyaki duck provided enough to share between three and a combination of textures and flavours one wouldn’t expect from a maki roll. Sweet pomegranate with duck and spring onion, lathered with habanero-cumin hoisin sauce, all neatly encased in sushi rice and nori. What’s not to like?
The tacos were hit and miss, with flavour and challenging to share between three with only two to a plate. The sesame-soy steak with chilli-ginger honey and coriander, cabbage, radish and mint cress in a hard taco, you’d expect to be full of flavour; but it’s bland with the steak lost in the abyss of cabbage.
The silver lining of small mains is that you always have room for dessert. It’s the saving grace of the meal. A plate of rich chocolate fondant, made with dulce de leche – a slow cooked sauce using milk and sugar – and served with vanilla ice cream. It’s a big Latin American hug on a plate, with a think moult chocolate sauce which runs onto the plate when you cut into the cake like opening a water dam. This is too good to share.
To clarify, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t dine here. In fact, I think people should visit Los Mochis at least once. Sure, an overall bill of £140 between three young millennials is hefty and I’d recommend saving this venue for a special occasion or payday, but the staff are friendly and knowledgeable on the unique menu and the blend of Mexican-Japanese food is unlike anything I’ve tried before.