There’s a new Mexican joint in town. It’s cheeky and quirky and it’s situated on the rooftop of The Eastern Hotel with access from Westfield Bondi Junction. It offers Oaxacan-inspired food and an extensive list of tequila and mezcal.
Oaxaca - pronounce wahaka - is a city in Mexico which is popular for its moles, mexican sauces; chapulines, seasoned fried crickets; and mezcal, a distilled liquor similar to tequila which has a slight smokey taste and sometimes… worms.
Walking into the restaurant I was amazed by the decor and the lively atmosphere. I was slightly spooked by all the skulls and the skeletons (inspired by the Day of Dead festival in Mexico) and dazed by the bright colours of the mexican tiles and tapestries found throughout the venue.
Everywhere you look, you can see Oaxacan-inspired decor elements, and in fact, everything from the hand painted tiles to the skull wall, the over hanging plants to the colourful festoon lights, the bullfighting poster to the dancing skeletons on the booth seating is sourced from Oaxaca.
We started the night with some cocktails. You can choose either tequila or mezcal as the base. I tried and loved the El Topo which is hibiscus, lime juice and rose. It is served in a jar with a nice little cocktail umbrella and stripey straw. Very cute.
Also tried the Paloma which is lime juice, grapefruit soda, and merlot salted rim (licked clean).
Good cocktails: they both went down fairly easily and I think they go really well with the empanadas and other fried and spicy dishes on the menu. With a cocktail bar right next to the dining area, this can be potentially dangerous for me.
The food menu is divided based on how many hands you need to eat them *winks*: Una Mano (One Hand), Dos Manos (Two Hand) and Tres Manos (Three hand) which has a selection of seafood, taco and quesadillas dishes.
Jars of mexican hot sauce on the table are a must for serious Mexican eating. Do you want habanero sauce with that?
Skulls and rose decorated windows… now I know where Ed Hardy gets his inspiration from…
I’m not a big fan of eating insects but I just had to tried the Chapulines, i.e. roast crickets with chilli and lime. First time for everything. I was pleasantly surprised. Crunchy, salty, slightly spicy and most definitely tasty. Don’t let the look bother you, crickets are a great source of protein…. just close your eyes and pretend they’re crackers.
Empanadas de mole amarillo was recommended as a popular dish of choice. It is a crispy pastry filled with mildy mexican spiced chicken thigh and coriander, and I can see why it’s so popular!
Chorizo Molotes: Tortilla dough stuffed with chorizo with potato, black turtle bean and Jalapenos. I could eat this all night…
Maiz Carnonizado: charred corn, pumpkin seed, chipotle and queso fresco (mexican soft cheese). Great flavour combo: sweet, smokey and salty. Forget popcorn, this is the perfect snack.
From the Quesadilla menu I had the must-have dish, Huitlacoche y hongos; mexican truffle and mushroom served with salsa verde and a queso oaxaqueno (mexican soft cheese, similar texture to mozarella). Probably my favourite dish of the night; packed full of flavour, and without a doubt sensational.
Another favourite is Taco De Morongo which is taco of blood sausage with onion, chard, mojo verde & pickled sweet potatoes. We also tried the Taco Carne De Res Mole Coloradito which is braised beef with mole coloradito (spiced mexican sauce), fried chile salsa and pickled onion. Both dishes were really good but the blood sausage taco was the winner for me.
From the seafood menu I sampled the Ceviche De Pez Espada which is swordfish with achiote sauce, charred corn and purslane. The serving portion was small but its freshness and flavour were anything but small.
Ending the night on a sweet note: Flan Roto De Coco Con Chocolate Y Cajeta was just the right choice for me – smashed flan of coconut, single origin Mexican chocolate hazelnut and goats milk caramel. Rich and decadent….
But oops we were mistakenly served Bunuelos Con Chocolate: Mexican doughnuts served with a tick rich chocolate sauce. Though, why not? We gave it a go. I liked the chocolate sauce which was rich and thick, but the doughnuts taste too much like normal cinnamon doughnuts for me and for $10 a serve, I’d like to get more than just five miniature round doughnuts on the plate.
Overall it was a great experience.We ordered 11 dishes – that’s a lot of food for two people. It was reasonably priced with a total bill of $120 including drinks.
So, if you seriously like Mexican food, seriously give this place a go.