Jimmy'z Kitchen recently opened in the Wynwood area on the right side of Miami. Mofongo aficionados and homesick Puerto Ricans now have a spot to chow without having to make the trek over to SoBe.
One thing rings true among all the boricuas know, they love their mofongo. If you can't escape on a plane to la isla, it's comforting to know Jimmy'z Kitchen gets it 100 percent right, and the newest outpost in Wynwood offers this plantain classic on a daily basis.
Mofongo in its basic form is simply mashed plantains. Dominicans call it mangu; Cubans call it fufu. However, there are key differences in the Puerto Rican preparation that make it stand out. First, the green plantains are fried and mashed, so there is a crucial interplay of textures between soft and crisp. It then gets seasoned deftly "a lo criollo" and "sin pena". This means adding pieces of crisp chicharrones, a.k.a. pork cracklins, a good dose of chopped garlic and olive oil for richness. Like a good Rican, mofongo has personality, so no bashful dashes of anything here.
It's traditionally served as an accompaniment to protein, and there are five options between $11.99 and $24.99 - chicken, puerco con mojo (slow roasted pork in bitter orange and garlic), churrasco (skirt steak), camarones al lo criollo (shrimp creole) and seafood.
We've tasted the shrimp ($14.99) and the pork ($16.99). Both are incredibly tasty, it's tough to say which one was better. The shrimp version is served in a salsa criolla -- a tomato based sauce that combines culantro, cilantro, onions, garlic, sofrito - a proprietary, ground up mix of aji, onions, garlic and herbs. The shrimp get tossed in this mixture to cook quickly, and then the whole thing is served with a mound of aggressively seasoned mofongo. The perfect bite consists of a bit of garlicky mofongo, some saucy onions to moisten the mash, and a small piece of crunchy shrimp. So good, my mouth's watering just thinking about it.
Meanwhile, the pork variety is completely different. They slow roast a pork leg for a few hours with a mojo sauce made with bitter orange, garlic, onion, culantro and oregano. When it's time to serve, hand-torn shreds of pork are reheated in the cooking juice along with some onions, garlic, and extra sofrito. It is then served with a heaping mound of mofongo. This is the kind of dish the body calls for on a chilly day after a heavy night of P-A-R-T-Y. If you order it, make sure whoever is along for the ride tastes it too. This way, awkward conversation is eliminated.
If, for some reason, mofongo doesn't tickle you, Jimmy's offers a slew of salads, paninis and daily specials. Just don't sleep on the mofongo.
Jimmy'z Kitchen has made a reputation for itself on South Beach for offering tasty food at super friendly prices; they deliver too. Proprietor Jimmy Carey is taking this same formula and applying it his new location. Success is imminent.
Short Order smells a monfongo Plato Royale coming up soon. Chef Sean Bernal, where are you?
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