Monday, February 01, 2010

Mariscos Martin: Vallarta Hardcore

Oh, how stoked I was to find out I would be featured in L.A Weekly's Meet Your Blogger column...until I saw it. The degree of distaste in the comment boards made me feel sick inside, a feeling of angst-ridden distress that my food writing had helped me overcome with the creation of my blog in my teen years, in the first place. I had never seen "Blogger Dinners" with such capitalistic, hexing eyes.

For me, getting invited to these events were simply seen as just awesome...period. I would imagine myself in the third person and still be awestruck of how far I've come along. A 20 year old guy who lives with his parents in a one bedroom apartment in East L.A, barely having enough to take the bus to attend these dinners that would sometimes cost the same amount of money that my family would spend on food in a week.

P.R dinners were just things I would brag about to my homies while drinking a tall boy with them, things that I would pull up if I wanted to impress a girl or something...

I couldn't believe some of the ill contrived statements that were made. "Cabral's blog is dominated by course-by-course accounts of PR dinners hosted by restaurants for bloggers"? Really? Having my foodblog for 4+ years, three of which I couldn't even afford a camera--let alone get invited to these press dinners--must not mean much to skimming eyes.

But if its one value my first passion (punk music) has instilled upon me, it it to truly not care of what people think. And like my dad always told me, "A golpes se aprende" (With hard punches, but one learns).

Besides, if it wasn't for inglorious interviews, I would had waited longer to finally experience Mariscos Martin. I hadn't even realized I hadn't had lunch that day because of all the drama, but a good friend of mine thought it was best to discuss the matter over lunch, so we did.

Actually pointed out to me by another close Compa of mine after brunching sick on clandestine backyard Barbacoa the day before, I'm glad I took him up on it as fast as I could...

Chickens Know They Don't Have Anything To Worry About Here

Mariscos Martin is owned by the Robledo family and specializes in seafood from Puerto Vallarta, a coastal city in the state of Jalisco. Predominantly known for its sunny resorts and tourism. Although whenever I think of it, I think Huachinango (Red snapper), Shrimp...Seafood versions of usually meat-based dishes.

This place is no secret to locals, they've been here for 18 years now. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, those same chickens are dodging frantic cars trying to find parking, be prepared to wait up to an hour then.

And for 3:30 PM on a Monday--a time most other places close because of inactivity--Martin was quite cracking. A group of wandering musicians go table to table trying to score at least one request, single guys with Chivas caps catch up over huge piles of growing lobster shells while sipping Bud Light, they all look like they've been here before...

Can You Guess Who Came With Me?

To start off, I order the Agua Mineral Preparada. Mineral water that is prepared with a lot of lime and salt and served in a thick, chilled salt-rimmed glass, kind of like an unflavored cocktail. A pretty common drink all over Mexico, I've only gotten this at the Colima fangled Mariscos El Tejado in Boyle Heights. It's a treat whenever restaurants have it, usually drank to get rid of hangovers but its limey sip goes great with spicy seafood.

tehuacan preparada
Lime, Salt and More Lime and Salt: Agua Mineral Preparada

It was apparent Martin was not like the rest of the generic "Mexican Food And Seafood" places that dominate L.A as soon as I spotted Albondigas De Camaron ($7.95), a regional soup comprised of meatballs made from chopped shrimp and bounded by egg yolks, shrimp instead of ground beef is common in a lot of coastal towns around Mexico.

Fish Soup, Shrimp Soup, Shrimp Meatball Soup!

albondigas de camaron

Cooked fresh to order, the order came with several ample and uniform shrimp balls that snapped at the bite and a generous amount of neatly sliced carrots, celery, potatoes, onion that were cooked until just tender. The tomato based broth was clean, light and subtle with shrimp undertones. Cilantro and onion is served alongside and has the same enlivening effect that sprouts and basil do for Pho. My friend couldn't believe that this is traditionally eaten as a main soup course for one.

pescado zarandiado
La Especialidad De La Casa: Huachinango Sarandeado

But the real reason that this place had interested me is their Pescado Sareandado (Shaken Fish), a whole fish that is rubbed with an abundant amount of either butter, mayonnaise, adobo or a mixture of all three and grilled openly in a fish basket under direct wood/charcoal driven high heat. Here, they use whole Red Snapper cut into three sections, the scarce middle spine section and the two surrounding thin fillets. A crimson, chile-dominated Adobo is used here, producing an umami intensive Sarandeado of the
spicy, charred, crispy skin and meaty fleshed variety.

rice n beans
Close To Home Beans

The order of Pescado Sarandeado has a three pound minimum (7.50 a pound) per order. It comes complete with two orders of home-y tasting (thick) freshly refried pinto beans and some savory, Knorr bouillon tinted short grain rice, just like how I would eat it at home.

salsa zarandiada
Salsa Sarandeada

To complement this leaner style of the Sarandeado preparation, a rich Salsa Sarandeada also is standard. Here, oil is infused with several kinds of ground toasted chilies to create this nutty, spicy sauce similar to the heat intensive Chili Oil found in some Northern Chinese restaurants. I pestered at least three waitresses trying to see what kind of chilies they use in their adobo/salsa...but they all would not peep a spice.

It was my last bite, a perfectly balanced forkful of beans, rice, fish, salsa and lime, that made me completely forget about everything that had happened and just relish the invigorating interplay of tastes, textures, smells...the reason why I got into food in the first place.

Mariscos Martin in Los Angeles

Mariscos Martin
13430 Valley Blvd
La Puente, CA 91746
(626) 330-5722


mattatouille said...

Nice review man. I'm searching out some obscure Ktown places so that I can secure my knowledge of hard-to-find spots that are unknown to the general public. Hopefully this reorientation will make J.Gold's job just a little bit harder. The both of us, that is, you in E.LA, myself in Ktown. Stay posted!

weezermonkey said...

That sarandeado looks maravilloso. I want! I am amused by that sauce that looks like chili oil. Food bring all cultures together. :)

MyLastBite said...

1st. Your dad is right: "A golpes se aprende" (With hard punches, but one learns).

2nd. Now I want to try the Albondigas De Camaron.

3rd. You are a wonderful writer. The haters will be forgotten while you are celebrating your continued talent and success!

glutster said...

Mattatouille: You, Bill, me....we can do it. Its up to us!

Weezermonkey: Yeah, that's why I love food :) And to be honest. I was not expecting a taste of that caliber, score!

MyLastBite: Ha! I used your name in my clincher :) Yeah, a learning experience if any. Thanks, Mariscos Chente also has some Albondigas sometimes that could prepare you for these, maybe closer to you?

Daily Gluttony said...

Hey Javier, I never got a chance to comment on the LA Weekly post, and decided not to after everything got so out of hand. You were grossly misrepresented by that write up and all those hateful comments--keep doing what you're doing & don't let all those fuckers get you down. I'm so proud of you & all you've done!

On another note, this place looks do you eat like this and stay so thin? I need to know your fast metabolism secrets so I can fucking win this Biggest Loser contest! :)

Food GPS said...


The profile writer clearly missed the mark when it came to defining the Glutster. Glad to see you follow up with such a personal post. Nice response. Also, Mariscos Martin seems like a really good find. I'm looking forward to hitting La Puente soon.

pleasurepalate said...

Javier, your photos are getting better and better. I was practically drooling over that shaken fish dish. :)

By the way, I just actually saw your LA Weekly Post today and I wanted to tell you that those who know you, know that you have a true passion for food and it shows in your writing and in how you even just talk about it.

The haters out there are people who are just haters are are simply not worth the time and energy. Keep doing what you love because it's obvious you're great at it. :-D

glutster said...

DG, Food GPS, Pleasure Palate: Thank you all for your uplifting words...

I will admit to feeling a little distressed when I first read the comments but all that matters is that my true friends and myself know the RIGHT story :)

looking forward to many more meals together and all of our successful progress!


Christina said...

People will put down anything and anyone, it's ridiculous. Your blog has always been enjoyable to read and the only thing it's been "dominated" by is your passion for food and having a great time!

glutster said...


Thanks so much, as long as my true readers know what's really up, I could care less of what "lurkers" think!

PS. Gonna try that Vodka-Prune sauce tomorrow, can't wait :)

Gustavo Arellano said...

Javier: FUCK THE HATERS. That is all. Let's eat soon!

Unknown said...

Javier, you're a force to be reckoned with. Not only are you one of the greatest foodies of LA, you help people discover East LA, the HISTORIES of the food you are eating, and the culture you were brought up in. Those haters hide behind anonymity but have little to prove. Keep it up and we have to get together soon!

Anonymous said...

Don't pay any attention to the comments over at the Weekly- they've always attracted a disproportionate number of hacks and jealous poseurs. I can't wait to get back to Los Angeles to try at least one or two of the places you feature

Also, big extra credit for the '70s LA punk references! Please keep it up!