Shanghai Express: Mojing's Back & Super Día has the Goods
Note: As of 2018, this has changed to a very good regional Hunan restaurant; review pending
"I'm an occidental woman in an oriental mood for love", Mae West once sang. I know how she felt, only it's the food I'm usually in the mood for. We need not worry, for the Chinese are coming. Their products are everywhere, from the tianguis to Palacio de Hierro. It is said that Mexican flags and Virgins de Guadalupe are all made in China now. There used to be a Chinese community here in Mexico, workers brought in the 19th century to build railroads. They later opened 'fast food' restaurants called cafés de chinos, serving nominally Chinese dishes like chop suey as well as eggs, coffee and sweet rolls, much like the typical American coffee shop of yore. A few remain. But the Chinese themselves either assimilated into the population, left, or were, sometime around the revolution, ungratefully kicked out. But as we all know, things have changed. Communism ain't what it used to be. They're coming back in droves, this time not as abused laborers but as savvy business-people. And if that means more Chinese restaurants for us, I say, more power to 'em.
Mojing, a Cantonese palace hidden inside a Chinese mini-mall, is amongst the few venues for 'real' Asian food in the city. It opened last year and was reported on in a popular lifestyle magazine that feigns 'hipness' (but in fact panders to the dumbest Malinchista instincts of middle class Mexicans). It was described as an anomaly, a 'wierd' Chinese restaurant where frogs are eaten whole. Sadly, 'authenticity' when referring to cuisine, is still not much appreciated here. Hence the plethora of lousy chop suey joints of the type that back in the US went out of style sometime around the demise of the Beatles. Of course, smelling "Chinese for Chinese" I went as fast as I could and wasn't disappointed.
An expert chef from Hong Kong, Tan, prepares dishes for an almost exclusively Asian clientele, so no chow mein or sweet & sour is to be found. In fact, the waiters speak little Spanish (much less English). I had trouble getting them to understand that I wanted tea! Better to order it in Chinese: cha. And they stared in amazement when I ordered and proficiently handled chopsticks (palillos en español). The menu, however, is well translated into Spanish. There are so many interesting dishes to try, I couldn't possibly list them all here. Start with some dense steamed dumplings, served with the proper black vinegar, soy and hot oil dipping sauce. And/or some savory hongos en salsa picante. Soups are large - the "chica' is enough for six bowls. I like agri-picante con mariscos. Try the carne en salsa ligeramente picosa, fragrant beef with ginger and semi-crunchy green peppers and onions. Or, a whole fish with ginger and scallions and soy sauce.
Camaron frito con anis chino and carne de cerdo con queso de soya deshydratado (pressed tofu,which is common in NY's Chinatown but something I've never seen in Mexico) are just two unusual but mouthwatering options from the large menu. Vegetables are fresh and bright: orderestrapajo con ajo picado, the chopped garlic perfectly complements the crunchy, verdant zucchini-like loofah.
The space is large, with typical Chinese restaurant kitchy decor, a TV blairing Chinese programming. Tsingtao beer is available and only $25 pesos. Prices are reasonable; a full meal will be around $200 pesos. Although closed for a couple of months this spring (2011) they are back in business as of August with not one but TWO chefs, the friendly hostess promissed me. And an inexpensive ($65 peso) buffet is offered weekdays which is light years ahead of the normally gloppy competitors.
This is the real thing...津津有味 (Jinjinyouwèi: Buen provecho!)
Mojing Comida China
c/ Humboldt 56 (inside the mall) between Artículo 123 & Juarez, Centro
Tel. 5512 6901
Open Daily 12-11PM
Meanwhile, in the most unlikely neighborhood is found Super Día, a huge Chinese supermarket. It will not dissapoint those in need of any sort of dry or bottled Asian ingredient. From noodles of every kind, to Szechuan bean sauce and many types of sesame oil, chili oil, oyster sauce, dark or light soy etc. etc., even the hard to find Shaoxing cooking wine, it's all here. A nice selection of woks are in stock, and for anyone thinking of opening a dim sum parlour, industrial size steamers are available.
Super Día is located in Colonia Tabacalera (near the Museo San Carlos, Between Metros Revolución & Hidalgo) Av. Puente de Alvarado 34
A note to my readers: Good Food in Mexico City has been included, amidst stellar company, in the New York Times' best blog list. See Diner's Journal