Fresh, quality Mexican. Heavy on the black beans and pickled onion.
MUST ORDER tostadas or tlayudas
SERVICE Distracted, but friendly
WOULD I GO BACK? For brunch; tlayuda Sundays ($10 tlayudas); before a night out with a big group of friends
Chula is a very comfortable restaurant, with lots of couches and pillows. We chose to sit at the bar, which had cushioned seating and looked onto an island counter, illuminating a Pirates-of-the-Caribbean selection of spirits. The space is consequentially colourful, dim and easy-going.
The Mariscos coctel tostadas ($16 for four) were such a light way to start. With prawn, octopus, clam, cilantro, tomato, red onion and avocado, we could have ordered more.
Tlayudas are the best items on the menu. You’ll have to like black beans and chilli. And you should. It’s a thin, crunchy tortilla base topped with black bean puree and melted cheese. A bit like a Mexican pizza. We ordered the LP’s chorizo ($20) one, which comes with a two-chillies warning label. I love spice, so I can’t be objective here, but my friend thought it was very spicy. Crunch + guac = happiness.
The tacos were great value. The baja crispy market fish, chipotle mayo and slaw taco ($7) was okay. The pork cochinita taco ($7) definitely champions the pork (not hiding behind big added flavours from sauces). It was achiote pulled pork, with tomatillo, pickled onion and coriander.
Pork belly carnitas ($28) was the star of the show. The slow cooked free range pork belly fat melts in the mouth. I love how it was topped with chorizo, slaw and pickled jalapenos. The purée underneath didn’t add much.
Sadly, we got greedy and ordered the Mexican steamed custard with strawberry and raspberries ($16).It was the most overcooked, inedible flan I’ve ever come across.
We should have picked up on the warning signs when we first ordered and the waitor told us we’d over-ordered. Consequentially, we removed one dish from our selection above. He obviously underestimated us, because we went to another restaurant afterwards for more food. This does not happen to me infrequently. I don’t know why waiters discourage people from ordering food. I know my own stomach, people. Share plates at fine restaurants are just code for ‘whets the appetite of a hungry human’, as far as I’m concerned.
We weren’t sure whether we should be concerned about how empty the restaurant was for a Wednesday night (seated about 80 people, with only one other couple in the whole restaurant). It is situated a bit off the main drag, so you’d probably have to know about it, rather than stumble upon it.
Overall, the flavours were not what you’re used to. None of the dishes were drowning in sweet or spicy sauces. The food was more clean and restrained, in a good way. I’m not sure if Chula is more authentic than usual, but everything was very fresh and of outstanding quality.
Order next time: definitely looks good/better for weekend brunch
Visit date: 30 May 2018