So I’m a few days late on this post, but here it is nonetheless. A few nights ago, Niko and I had an impromptu date night at El Camino. We’ve been there lots of times before, and I decided it had been too long since our last visit.
After waiting in the car for 20 minutes (I neglected to check when they opened…which was at 5:30) we walked over and grabbed the best seats in the house – at the two bar stools in front of the kitchen. Who wouldn’t want to see where the magic happens?!?
When we settled, we were given chips and salsa to start, at least that’s what I’ll call it because I can’t quite remember what the chef told me…but it wasn’t your traditional fresh tomato salsa. (Below) It was darker, much richer flavours, and very spicy, but very good!
I knew right away what I wanted to eat, my usual, two crispy fish tacos ($4 ea). But of course I’d take a look at the menu too, which was a great idea, because we decided to order more!
First up was the Chili Lime Caramel Pork Belly with Green Mango, Young Coconut, Peanuts & Thai Basil ($12).
This whole post is going to be repetitive, so I’m just going to keep saying that everything was delicious! lol. I could tell right away that this dish could defeat me, it was riddled with fresh red chillies, and by now you know I don’t really handle spice well. But it smelled too good to hold back. And we did not. It was soo good. One of my main issues with spicy foods (outside that it’s just too spicy for me) is that the spice overpowers everything, to the point where I can’t taste anything else. However, in this case, I didn’t find it too overwhelming. I avoided the chillies when I could, but the kick was definitely still there, and I quite enjoyed it (albeit with lots of water! lol). My favourite part, besides the pork belly itself, which was perfectly crispy and tender, was the sweet soy sauce mixture along with the mango and young coconut. It was fresh and tasted great with the pork.
Next we had the Steelhead Trout Tartare Tostada with Avocado & Funky Chili Mayo ($14).
It is essentially a flat round tortilla chip, piled high with chunks of trout in their ‘funky chili mayo’ and topped with basil, ginger and radishes. It was light and fresh, with GENEROUS pieces of trout that was fresh and meaty and perfect. And I would expect nothing less from Whalesbone Supply ; ) It was a great follow up to the pork belly.
Then the tacos came. In addition to the fish tacos I mentioned, we also had the Ox Tongue (tried and true) and at the recommendation of the very-friendly-and-information-and-all-in-all-nice-guy (whose name I didn’t take and feel awful about) we also tried the Veggie Taco which is a tempura-fried Chinese eggplant served with their usual taco toppings. Again, they were delicious, and delectable, and mouth-wateringly satisfying!
And just when we thought we were full and had no room left, I became too interested in this one dish I kept seeing passed through. To me, it looked like nachos in a sauce topped with cheese, baked and then topped with a fried egg. I wanted one.
We were told it’s their version of a Chilaquiles which is a traditional Mexican dish made to use up stale or day old tortilla chips. I thought that it would be much spicier than it actually was, to my delight. I can’t quite pinpoint exactly what about this dish I liked, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was simply…delicious.
What really made the experience unforgettable was the staff, the people behind the food. They were warm, and welcoming and always friendly, even when they were so busy they were nearly bursting at the seams! It was really great watching them so completely in their groove in the kitchen, making food that you could just tell they really cared about. There was such an attention to detail.
So a HUGE THANKS to everyone at El Camino, (especially to the gentleman on the left!) you can bet we will be back!
If you haven’t been there yet…you should go. If you have…you should go back.