- 4- Course Seafood Tasting Menu – $40 per guest and available Thursday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Call for reservations.
Holbox reels in the freshest local seafood with Yucatan flare in Los Angeles, California
The menu items in this post were provided by Holbox but the opinions expressed here are my own.
Chef Gilberto Cetina Jr. is no stranger to the food scene. He has learned his cooking skills while working alongside his father at Chichen Itza for 15 years. In 2010, he took over as chef of Chichen Itza, but he always wanted to focus on his love of seafood. Holbox opened on February 17, 2017 and is a seafood stand that focuses on fresh, local ingredients, bold flavors, and simple preparation. The concept came from memories of spending the summers on the coast of Yucatan, diving for conch and octopus and spearing fish with his cousins. Like most fishermen, they prepared ceviche with the fresh catch. His memories remind me of my family in Hawaii. My great-grandparents owned a fish market and, growing up, my parents taught us about fresh fish – how to know when it is fresh and how to prepare it (raw or cooked).
Holbox is located inside Mercado La Paloma. The stand is bright and reminiscent of a sushi bar. The fresh seafood is on ice and ready to be prepared.
Fresh sea urchin (uni) sits atop ice with spines still moving so you know it is fresh.
The first thing that catches my attention about the fish (Pacific Red Snapper in this case) are the clear, plump eyeballs. This is a clear sign of freshness. If the eyeballs are dried up, sunken, or cloudy, steer clear.
Array of hot sauces to tempt your taste buds.
Here are some menu items to try:
Tacos de Pulpo En Su Tinta ($10) is braised octopus in calamari ink sauce served in handmade tortillas. The octopus had a tender, yet chewy texture. The squid ink added an umami flavor which made me go for another bite and another bite. A little tomato added a touch of sweetness. I LOVE octopus, pulpo, tako! I love it in any language and I love this taco! Rating: 4.9/5
Coktel Mixto ($10 small, $15 large) is made with shrimp, spot prawn, octopus, oyster, avocado, house made sauce, onion, cilantro, and lime. The sauce had a great balance of sweet and spicy. It worked well with the myriad of seafood inside by bringing out the best of each ingredient. The presentation was just beautiful! Rating: 4.8/5
Scallop al Carbon ($12) is wood grilled live diver scallop served in its shell with chile X’catic sauce. The scallop was cooked very lightly so the sweetness of the scallop came through. A raw or lightly cooked/seared scallop will impart a sweetness like crab. Most of the time when a scallop is fully cooked, it will lose this delicate flavor. The chile and citrus flavors were very light and balanced perfectly with the sweetness of the scallop. Perfection in half shell! Rating: 4.9/5
Chiles Rellenos de Pescado ($9) is three spicy yellow chiles stuffed with fish, breaded, fried, and served with homemade mayo and morita sauce. These rellenos are reminiscent of the American “jalapeno popper” but so much better. The crispy exterior contrasted the soft texture of slightly cooked fish inside. Rating: 4.3/5
Halibut Ceviche Tostada ($10, seasonal fish) made with local line caught halibut, onion, cilantro, tomato, salsa roja, and avocado. This halibut was freshly caught from the Channel Islands. Ceviche is Yucatan’s version of Hawaiian poke but instead of using shoyu, Hawaiian salt, and sesame oil, they use citrus juices, salt, onion, and cilantro. The citrus juices “cook” and marinate the fish. The salsa roja added some spicy notes but was balanced by the creamy avocado. The thick, crispy tostada held up to the very last bite. Rating: 4.8/5
You don’t need a passport to try some of the best Yucatan-style seafood. It is just a few freeways away to seafood paradise!
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars
For more information:
Inside Mercado La Paloma
3655 S. Grand Ave. #C9
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Reservations: For 4-course seafood tasting menu only
Hours: Monday – closed; Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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