Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sazon Latin Fusion (Culver City)


Should I really knock a restaurant for serving bland food - especially when they tell you up front, that they use little to no salt in the preparation of their meals?  You betcha!

I'm okay with the health-conscious concept.  I get that.  I mean, all is fine and dandy if you want to cut back on the sodium.  Where I take issue, is not when I am served salt-free food, but rather, when I am served flavorless fare.  You should at least incorporate more herbs and spices to compensate for the lack of salt.
We started off by ordering 2 aguas.  One was a hibiscus beverage and the other pineapple.  For starters, the pineapple juice had a greenish hue.  While I didn't ask, why this was so, I imagine that it was a blend of pineapple juice and some vegetation.  Odd, but okay since it falls in line with the healthful theme.  I didn't mind the flavor of it.  I just wish I had been told that the Agua De PiƱa had other stuff in it.  The Agua De Jamaica didn't have an off-color or off flavor but it was more tart than I'm accustomed to when it comes to this drink.  Maybe this restaurant also cuts back on sugar. I can only surmise.  - 3 stars

We had a threesome of empanadas to start with.  The chicken empanada was dry and had little flavor.  The spinach and potato pastry had a filling that looked unappetizing. It reminded me of silly putty - flavorwise too (I imagine).  The last of the less-than-formidable three was their picadillo empanada.  It was our favorite of the sorry bunch.  I was hoping for some spice and while it did have a touch more flavor, it was still pretty weak.  The only saving grace was that this empanada did have more fat in the filling.  Did someone forget to drain the grease?  Probably not. I'm sure the beef was cooked in healthy extra virgin olive oil. :o)  One thing I did like about the pastries was the dough - moist n flaky.  Overall though, a miss.  The worst threesome I have ever had.  - 2 stars                    

The Tacos Dorados de Papa y Res were dreadful.  Again, bland food.  I doubt these tortillas were fried as the name of the dish suggests.  I'm pretty sure the "shells weren't even tortillas to begin with.  The beef filling was tough and chewy - almost as if it had been boiled.  The rest of the minutia inside and around the taco was devoid of flavor.  Not even the red salsa they provided was able to salvage this doomed dish.  These were the worst tacos I have ever had.  - 0 stars.

I ordered a pupusa to see how they could muck that up.  Surprisingly, the pupusa was not half bad but the curtido was as flavorful as a bag of confetti.  How do you get the pupusa right but mess up the curtido?  The black beans on the side were good.  They were more toothsome than beans are usually cooked but I quite liked these.  Too bad the beans were the side and not the pupusa.  - 2 stars. 

The last dish we ordered was the best.  I had never eaten mofongo and after trying their's, apparently I still haven't had a traditional mofongo.  One of the key ingredients to an authentic mofongo is chicharrones - an ingredient Sazon decided to omit.  Grrrr!  Authenticity and porky goodness aside, I still enjoyed this dish well over the rest I tried here.  The predominant flavorant was garlic and if there was one dish that made me forget that they didn't cook their food with salt, it was this one.  I just wish more of the dishes here were prepared in the same manner.  -  4 stars                  

Back of the restaurant.

Shredded Chicken Empanada.

Spinach & Mashed Potato Empanada.

Picadillo Empanada.

Mofongo de Pollo - Green Plantains Mashed with Bacon and “Mojo.”  Topped with Chicken Stew in White Wine Sauce.  Garnished with Plantain Chips.

Pupusa with Curtido.  Served with Black Beans.

Tacos Dorados de Papa y Res.

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