Truth is I know very little about Mexican food. Sometimes I get confused with what is what in Mexican cuisine. Perhaps what I know about Mexican food can be summed up as follows:
Quesadillas has cheese. Tacos can be soft shell or hard shell. Burritos is a Mexican wrap. Oh … what is fajitas now? Can I say it is like quesadillas without the cheese? What is enchiladas now? I can imagine some of you now shaking your heads side to side and tsk-tsk’ing me. Go ahead. :-)
Apart from not having someone to teach me about the cuisine, perhaps one of the things that prevents me from trying more is because I associate Mexican cuisine with beans. I just never liked beans. Never did since when I was young.
Another thing too. I always thought of Mexican food as colorful food. I am not sure why. Maybe it is because of the fruits I had before or the colorful chips.
And of course … Mexican food is spicy!
We met up with Mo and Patch. This is so long ago I can’t even remember when exactly it was. Maybe it was at least 2 months ago.
Mo is the one who writes the EcoGreenBean blog. Mo suggested that we meet in Dona Cata and since we had not blogged about this place before we readily agree. It is good that we blog about non-Asian food once in a while, right?
The Dona Cata is a popular restaurant, and is one of only a handful of Mexican restaurant in town. The Mexican flag draped in front of the restaurant tells me that Mexicans are proud of their flag. How come we don’t often see Asian restaurants have flags draped outside the restaurant is what I was trying to say.
This is one restaurant that is well covered by the media for sure. They had amassed quite a lot of news articles which they proudly frame up and hung on the wall. They are running … out of space.
I was captivated by the salsa bar lining near the entrance of the restaurant. It has 10 types of salsa — all free and for you to take as much as you can handle.
They told us that they had arranged them from the mildest to the hottest. Surprisingly the hottest salsa is the one called avacado … and oh boy, was it hot!
Looking at the menu was a big blur to me. Not knowing the cuisine made it worse. For the most part, a lot of the dishes sounded the same but I know they are not.
When Mo mentioned they have Horchata ($2.50), I know I wanted that too. We had this a lot when we were vacationing in Spain and learn to love it. It is a refreshing drink made with rice and cinnamon. It is also lightly sweetened with sugar.
I made a beeline to the salsa bar and grab a few salsa to try. Of course I ignored the mildest and went for the hottest. It was a lot of interesting types of salsa. It included flavours like peanut, chipotle, avocado, etc.
One thing I noticed is that the green colored ones are more spicy than the red ones. Isn’t it funny … that in Chinese cuisine, we associate red with spiciness instead?
Besides the 10 types of salsas, there are other condiments too. It includes dried chili, jalapeno and slice onions.
The heroness in me wanted to try the dried chili. Nice but very very hot. Suanne was too chicken to try.
At first I did not know what was the Molcajete De Guacamole and then I realize it’s guacamole. Ah … guacamole I know. I like this potpourri of freshly cut ingredients which has avocado, onions, tomatotes and cilantro. This is $6 for a large one.
This is the type of food that I can eat on and on and on. Hmmm … maybe I need to hint to Suanne to make this at home since she had done this at the Richmond Community Kitchen already. Good for playoff snacks, right?
I heard that tortilla is free in Mexico. All you can eat. Here the 1st basket is free. We asked for more chips and was charged $1.00 for it.
We also got another appetizer. Patch ordered 2 tacos and it was $2.00 each. I cannot remember now but I thought Patch told me something about tacos being served with two small slices tortilla each.
The above is Mo’s dish. This is ordered off from a page off the menu that says Alambres Preparadas. Not sure what it meant but it is a page of 30 different items of various combinations and costs $10.50.
So this is called the Azteca and has pork chop, bisteck, jalapeno, rajas, onion, corn and cheese. Bisteck and rajas are something I don’t know. Maybe I’ll leave it to Mo to describe her dish.
I was quite pleased with my selection although I must admit I had no idea what this will look like. Everything was great except for just one little blemish … the beans. And worse, it was mashed. LOL! So I did not touch the beans but the rest of the plate was … how do they say in Spanish? Excellente?
This is called the Plato Ranchero and is $12.50. I get a choice of skirt steak and pork chop chuketa. I got the pork chop. It is served with refritos, crema, arroz Mexicano and 3 corn tortillas.
Nice touch. I like that the corn tortilla was served on the side in a basket wrapped in towel to keep them warm, nice and soft.
I just placed a bit of everything onto the tortilla and enjoy. Yeah, the one above with the mashed beans is for show only. Suanne ate that, not me. Mine doesn’t come with mashed beans but it did not look as nice on photo.
Suanne snagged the signature dish — the Dona Cata Special. She has a choice of either corn tortilla or flour tortilla. Since I already had the corn tortilla, Suanne opted for the flour tortilla.
Corn and flour tortilla looked the same to me but was pointed out to me that the difference is flour tortilla is bigger than the corn tortilla.
The description of Dona Cata Special is pastor, longaniza, enchilada, green pepper, tomato, onion and cheese. So, pastor is thin slices of pork marinated in achiote and roasted on a spit. The pork is sliced off the spit and served in a taco with onions, cilantro and pineapple.
So apparently Enchiladas is corn tortillas that are quickly fried in oil, soaked in a sauce, filled with meat or cheese and rolled. The rolls may then be covered with additional sauce, cheese, crema or lettuce. That sounds like tacos to me. No? Anyway, the Richmond Community Kitchen had done a black bean enchilada here.
Anyway, it does look more delicious than mine. The serving is big. So big that Suanne only ate half and pack the leftover to go.
Patch had the Ranchero which has the description bisteck, pork chop, pastor, onion, tomato, green pepper and cheese. The name of this dish sounded like mine but looked like Suanne’s.
All these names are so overwhelming to me. I need to eat more and more of Mexican to get all these names internalized.
Total was not too bad for four people right? That is slightly above $20 a person.
You should check out Mo’s blog. She is currently writing about her Hawaii trip.