2 words: Dan Hong, Mexican and I say “Where?” Immediately I start thinking of LA’s Roy Choi Kogi truck which serve up Korean Mexico tacos. If Dan Hong has anything to do with Mexican food in Sydney, I would expect no less of asian influences in his take on Mexican cuisine.
Mexican food in Sydney conjures up images of heavily cheesed nachos for a late night snack at City Extra or Pancakes on the Rocks after a night out in the town. It is only recently with likes of Guzman Y Gomez and Mad Mex we are starting to get a sample of real Mexican food like the ones in the States. But still, we are far far away from the real deal and hopefully, Dan Hong’s latest food adventure, El Loco, helps close that gap.
Off we go to seek out El Loco, situated on the lower end of Surry Hills where all the fashion factory outlets are. Nestled right next door to The Excelsior Hotel, El Loco is the first stage of Merivale’s new Mexican restaurant. Outside the restaurant it has a Mexican desert vibe, decorated with bales of hay, banana leaf trees and large pots of herb gardens, I almost can see Speedy Gonzales run past! Inside the restaurant, the Mexican theme continues with a wall imprinted with skeleton sombrero wearing Mexican, tables decorated with assorted table cloths prints, multicoloured stools and cactus pot plants.
We place our order at the makeshift bar which has the wall lined with over 20 varieties of Tequila, Mexican’s preferred spirit. The menu contains 5 types of tacos, hot dog, 2 types of sandwiches, salad, fish and steak. Moments later our corn chips with guacamole and salsa arrived. The guacamole was creamy with just the right touch of garlic, onion and awefully addictive!
“Excuse me, your tacos are here” our waiter brings out our tacos on a large round tray.
“This one is prawn, beef, chicken and pork, enjoy” he puts them on the table and I try to remember which one is which as the fillings were covered in cabbage, coriander, spring onions, salsa verde and pico de gallo.
It was like taco roulette, not knowing which filling I would get. I picked up one and bit into it, “I’ve got the prawn one” I say to Mr Dough with my mouth full, “And I don’t think I want to share this one”. The tacos here are served on a soft tortilla and there was a generous amount of prawns which was seasoned with a hint of chili.
Chicken taco which comes with plenty of tender chicken pieces and has a real smokey, barbeque flavour.
The beef taco was my favourite of the day. The sliced beef had a real charcoal flavour like what you get from korean bbq. The seasoning tasted like galbi beef which is a marinade of soy sauce, water, garlic, sugar and sliced onions.No doubt I can see Roy Choi’s influences here.
Last taco to taste, Al Pastor – which is marinated pork is grilled on a spit and sliced to order. The pork is tender but slightly on the dry side.
Overall, El Loco has a real Mexican fiesta vibe and I can see this place being really popular with the locals. Being open until 3am on the weekends, this place is definitely a pit stop on the way home from late night booze sessions.
It would be a matter of time before everyone goes loco for El Loco!
El Loco Mexican Cantina y Barra
Mon-Wed noon-1am | Thu-Sat noon-3am | Sun noon-10pm
64 Foveaux St, Surry Hills