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In Foreign Territory at Mofongos

So that’s what Puerto Rico tastes like.

Once upon a time, a friend of mine hooked up with a Puerto Rican lady. Afterwards, he proclaimed that he was “in foreign territory…literally.” Unfortunately, as an American he failed to realize that he was not in foreign territory at all. At least not since 1898 when the US won the Spanish-American War. Similarly, Puerto Rican food is so different from other regional American food that it almost feels like foreign territory, but after eating Mofongos in North Hollywood I realized this is some regional food I’d like to see more often.

The namesake of the restaurant, mofongo, is an interesting little culinary concoction that basically consists of a mashed green plantain bowl. Inside the bowl goes an almost stew-like mix of whatever type of mofongo you order. For my mofongo, I ordered Pollo Guisado, which translates to stewed chicken. The mofongo comes with Maduros (ripe, sweet plantains) or Tostones (fried flattened green plantains) and a little side salad. I was so concerned with choosing which side that I completely forgot to order without the salad, but ended up going with the tostones.

It was only after I opened my to-go package that I realized I had been stuck with a side salad. Fortunately it was sectioned off from my real food and didn’t spoil anything. Despite this, the most powerful thing I noticed after opening my box was the amazing smell. The combination of garlic, chicken and smashed plantain is overwhelmingly amazing, but not as amazing as it tastes. The flavor of the chicken is truly indescribable and other than the garlic, I couldn’t put my finger on any other specific tastes that stood out, but all of the flavor mixes together into something that would ordinarily be way too intense to eat. That’s where the plantains come in. Being unripe, the plantains don’t have a very strong flavor, but do a great job of balancing out the flavor and adding a unique texture. The slow-cooked chicken is so tender that it nearly strings away with the fork and with all of this combined it is something amazing.

Then there are the tostones. These guys are like little crispy plantain pancakes and are perfect for two things. The first is to dip into the mofongo because they actually don’t have a lot of flavor. The second is toe eat them as a sort of dessert to cool off the taste buds after such an intense main course. Either way, they are awesome.

And so is Mofongos. Now I’m no Puerto Rican expert and not even a Caribbean expert, so I don’t have a lot to compare Mofongos to, but just comparing it to other meals of my short life, it ranks pretty high up there. It’s a very unique meal to experience and if you like chicken, garlic and plantains, you really can’t go wrong with the Mofongo de Pollo Guisado.