3 years ago today, we were out in sunny Los Angeles on vacation, indulging in so many fantastic meals that we wouldn't be able to replicate at home. One of the many things that Los Angeles has done better than New York when it comes to food is Oaxacan cuisine (although it's starting to become easier to find some good dishes here), and it's something we try to get whenever we're out there. On that trip, we decided to head over to EK Valley, a small family establishment in Culver City, for dinner with a friend.
The meal started out well with some chips and salsa, which as far as we remember were complimentary. We think we liked them, but hard to say for sure what we thought because back then our trip journal was not as robust as it is now. All we have to rely on for this is our (fading) memories.
For drinks, A went for horchata and M got jamaica (hibiscus). That's usually what happens if we order drinks at a Mexican restaurant, so no surprises there. From what we remember, these were fine.
For her main dish, M got the clayuda (which she had always thought was spelled tlayuda, but let's just go with what was on the menu for now), a Oaxacan dish she had always wanted to try. According to the menu, this was a "large handmade corn tortilla, spread with pork lard and toasted with black bean paste, tomatoes, avocados, quesillo [Oaxacan cheese], cabbage, salsa" and meat, of which there was a choice of tasajo (thin sliced beef), cecina (pork strips), or chorizo. M went with the chorizo. The best way to describe this would be like a crispy pizza. The flavors were fantastic (all that lard?), and while many other memories of Los Angeles have faded 3 years later, eating this is definitely something we remember because it was so good.
A got the mole rojo which came with rice and grilled vegetables. Ever since A had mole in their first trip to LA, he'd always been craving more. When the chance came up to get some more (though this time was red vs black) he had to try it. The mole was beautifully rich and chocolatey with a decent hit of spice to it. The chicken was really moist, and the juiciness held up really well with the sauce. He doesn't remember much about the rice and vegetables, but with everything else being so good, they had to be pretty good as well.
Overall, we had a good meal at EK Valley and wish we remembered more (or had taken notes on our trip!). It was nice being able to spend time with friends before heading out of the city, and it was great getting to have some Oaxacan food, especially that tlayuda. We really wish it were as easy to find this stuff here in NYC as it is in LA.