Monday, June 20, 2022
HomeLondon foodLa Chingada assessment – the transformed caff dishing up Mexican gems

La Chingada assessment – the transformed caff dishing up Mexican gems

Beforehand a small takeaway, this restaurant has not solely moved into bigger premises across the nook, however has additionally upped its recreation.

Some issues really do get higher with age. Whereas quite a few eating places have closed over the previous two years, Surrey Quays’ La Chingada has not solely managed to outlive however has even moved into bigger premises. After spending the primary 18 months of its life in a glorified takeaway (with a handful of counter perches) on Decrease Highway, it has since taken root in what was beforehand a caff on Rotherhithe New Highway.

In doing so, the kitchen has gotten noticeably higher in knocking out its easy menu of tacos and burritos in addition to its Sunday specials which change each week. Once I abortively visited the unique La Chingada again in Feburary 2020, the cooking – whereas brimming with promise – was clearly shaky and inconsistent.

How issues have modified.

La Chingada tacos

All of La Chingada tacos use corn tortillas – skinny and smooth, but fluffy and boldly nutty. In case you’ve solely ever had the half-arsed tacos that – for therefore lengthy – had been the one ones out there in London, then they alone will likely be revelatory sufficient.

illustrative image of takeaway tortillas from La Chingada
There are a handful of outdoor tables at La Chingada, though they’re proper up towards the site visitors of Rotherhithe New Highway. Alternatively, there are some tables beneath the air flow unit in addition to close to the doorway door – which could be propped open for further air flow.

As with all tacos, there’s little room on these wee maize flour discs to cover dangerous fillings. Fortunately, for probably the most half, La Chingada has a lot to point out off. The confit pork of the Carnitas tacos was constantly fatty, meaty and tender throughout a number of visits. The confit beef of the Suadero tacos managed to upstage them with a succulent heft all its personal that was additionally denser with a contact of woody smoke introduced out by a dab of the accompanying sauce on the facet. It was simply my favorite of La Chingada’s tacos throughout my many visits, outshining the same however much less multifaceted steak tacos and their gentle beefy tang.

  • illustrative photo of the takeaway carnitas tacos from La Chingada
  • illustrative photo of the carnitas tacos at La Chingada
  • illustrative photo of the pork carnitas tacos at La Chingada

illustrative photos of the steak tacos at La Chingada
steak tacos at La Chingada

Chorizo tacos had been often a contact too oily, however the coarseness and smoky pep of the red-hued sausage by no means waned. Even so, to get your chorizo repair in taco kind, it’s higher to order the alambre tacos as a substitute. There, the mix of chopped chorizo, bacon and beef was sure collectively by curls of milky cheese to meatily moist impact.

illustrative photo of the takeaway chorizo tacos from La Chingada
takeaway chorizo tacos from La Chingada
illustrative photos of the chorizo tacos at La Chingada London
chorizo tacos at La Chingada London

The one out there alternative for vegans felt like an affordable afterthought, with mounds of mushroom, onions and guacamole outweighing the headlining cactus. Weak.

illustrative photo of the cactus tacos at La Chingada
cactus tacos at La Chingada

The lone pescatarian choice was virtually as lacklustre, with limp prawns entombed in squishy batter. It was made much more bearable by the crisp, refreshing coleslaw and a tomato and pineapple relish that was each candy and bristlingly spicy.

illustrative photo of the prawn tacos at La Chingada
prawn tacos at La Chingada

La Chingada’s kitchen had the best bother in knocking out al pastor tacos. When the kitchen received it proper, the ruddy-hued pork was succulent with a steadiness between sweetness and smokiness, all topped off with acidic pineapple. Sadly although, more often than not, the pork was too fruity candy with not sufficient smokiness. On a number of events, the entire affair was completely muted. I wasn’t completely shocked in any respect this as tacos al pastor could be notoriously troublesome to get proper and but I used to be upset nonetheless.

Burritos at La Chingada

Burritos can be found with some, however not all the filling choices out there for the tacos. The most suitable choice by far is the chorizo as its smoky pep stands out simply amidst the rice and lettuce. Pork al pastor had a tougher time making its presence felt amidst all these extras. In case you’re fortunate, you’ll get a little bit of tahdig-like chewiness to the rice, nevertheless it’s extra prone to be smooth and fluffy – which is in fact completely high quality. Whereas the massive wheat flour tortillas can’t maintain a candle to the corn tortillas used within the tacos, they had been all the time tightly wrapped with little ensuing spillage.

  • illustrative photo of the chorizo burrito at La Chingada
  • illustrative photo of the chorizo burrito at La Chingada Southwark

illustrative photo of the pastor burrito at La Chingada
pastor burrito at La Chingada

Quesadillas and mollettes at La Chingada

The important thing to consuming La Chingada’s quesadillas is to allow them to sit for a few minutes. This allowed the melted cheese contained in the smooth folds of the wheat tortillas to congeal barely. The ensuing squidginess helped emphasise the lactic tang and creamy heft of the cheese all the higher. Due to that alone, the ‘plain’ cheese quesadilla is completely pleasing in its personal proper.

It’s actually not value bothering with the meat variant, the place the one significant addition had been the onions which added a contact of sharpness and crunch. A much better choice is the model filled with chorizo which does what virtually each pepperoni pizza guarantees however by no means fulfils – the smokiness and gentle spicy heat each sliced via and neatly complimented the creaminess of the cheese.

  • illustrative photo of the takeaway quesadilla from La Chingada
  • illustrative photo of the plain quesadilla at La Chingada
  • illustrative photo of the quesadilla at La Chingada
  • illustrative photo of the cheese quesadilla at La Chingada

Reductionists would most likely dismiss mollette out-of-hand as one thing they might make at dwelling. But when they’ll make bread topped with cheese, onions, tomatoes, chilli and refried beans in addition to La Chingada can, then they too would have my loyal customized. The smooth, squishy bread stayed out of the way in which, permitting the toppings to take centre stage. Nutty beans, surprisingly mild and milky cheese and a pointy, acidic mixture of chilli, onions and tomatoes all melded collectively right into a scoffably moreish entire.

Sunday specials at La Chingada

La Chingada’s Sunday specials can typically sell-out early, so it’s value getting there for lunch on that day slightly than dinner. There’s no discernible rhyme or purpose as to what they’ll serve up or when a selected dish might reappear, however then the omnivorous pleasure of shock is a part of the attraction in case you ask me.

Prawn soup had its bisque-like moreishness bolstered by a mild spicy heat.

illustrative photo of the prawn soup special from La Chingada
prawn soup particular from La Chingada

The fried masa base of the sopes was crunchy and nutty, with no drop of stray grease or oil. Topped with delicately milky cheese, a paste of moreish refried beans and punchy chilli sauces, it was in some methods a mirror of the mollettes. An alternate model of the sopes had the addition of chorizo, however the meat’s charms had been admittedly misplaced amidst all the opposite toppings.

illustrative photo of the sopes Sunday special at La Chingada
sopes Sunday particular at La Chingada
illustrative photo of the sopes special at La Chingada
I assume you would consider sopes as a sort of tart…
illustrative photo of the chorizo sopes at La Chingada
…however may or not it’s described as a sort of pie? *runs for canopy*

La Chingada’s tackle birria has strands of beef bobbing about within the scarlet-hued soup. Each drop was eminently slurpable with smoky, woody, tangy and – when garnished with the chopped chillies – fiery parts in each spoonful. The accompanying tacos packed those self same multifaceted traits into dense hunks of beef perched atop the standard corn tortillas I’ve come to count on from La Chingada.

It’s virtually inappropriate to name La Chingada’s beef and pork stew a stew or a soup, because it had so little liquid. This was certainly not a nasty factor although, given the hearty, virtually obscenely beneficiant serving to of floor beef, beans and chopped bacon. Though not as multifaceted because the birria, this protein pile by no means outstayed its welcome. Not solely was there an affordable stage of moreishness, a short lilt of lime and a few chopped coriander and onions helped season every spoonful. 4 corn tortillas to the facet had been available for wrap-based guzzling.

illustrative photo of the beef and pork stew special at La Chingada
beef and pork stew particular at La Chingada

La Chingada’s maize tortillas stood up properly to frying, forming a crunchy, nutty base for fruity, smoky rooster. Though the cheese wasn’t actually obligatory and there was a bit an excessive amount of lettuce and bitter cream, these had been nonetheless mighty high quality tostadas.

chicken tostada special at La Chingada
rooster tostadas at La Chingada
illustrative photo of the chicken tostadas at La Chingada
The rooster tostadas is the one Sunday particular, to this point, to have made its means onto the common on a regular basis menu.

These rooster tostadas had been upstaged by their tuna counterpart, although. Each single meaty dice of fish bristled with a citrusy tang and a spicy heat.

illustrative photo of the tuna ceviched tostadas at La Chingada
tuna ceviche tostadas at La Chingada
illustrative photos of the tuna tostadas at La Chingada
Now that is the tostada I want they’d add as a everlasting fixture to the menu.

Rooster pozole was surprisingly bland. It was removed from a complete loss although given the gamey rooster and bulgingly yielding corn kernels, in addition to the chopped chillies on the facet which could be poured in for some a lot wanted punch.

illustrative photo of the chicken and corn soup at La Chingada
rooster pozole at La Chingada

Chilaquiles consists of tortilla chips softened in a frying pan. La Chingada topped them with slightly cheese and bitter cream, together with the actual weight-pullers – moreishly refried beans and both a sprightly, zesty inexperienced salsa or a extra moreish scarlet-hued sauce. Served alongside it was one thing simply as necessary – the one instance of Yecapixtla-style cecina that I do know of in London. The cured, salted and flattened facet of grilled beef was tender and succulent with hints of salt and zesty citrus to it. Pairing it with the carby ballast and sprightly salsa of the chilaquiles was an impressed transfer. Though the cecina was typically fairly constant, it was every now and then substituted with a extra familiarly steak-like substitute that had a considerably plumper consistency and a much less pronounced citrus presence. Even then, it was nonetheless a high quality hunk of beef.

  • illustrative photo of the chilaquiles and steak at La Chingada
  • illustrative photo of the chilaquiles at La Chingada Surrey Quays
  • illustrative photo of the chilaquiles at La Chingada

Tacos made with thinner, bigger however nonetheless principally corn-based tortillas served as vessels for a heap of small-grained rice and moist, gamey rooster. A evenly zingy and tangy sauce with a modest spicy warmth sure meat and carbs collectively for a largely pleasing impact. An alternate model changed the rooster with crunchy, dense and evenly chewy chicharrón-esque pork.

illustrative photo of the chicken rice tacos special at La Chingada
Blurring the taco-burrito distinction.
illustrative photo of the pork and rice tacos special at La Chingada
‘Rooster, pig, what’s the distinction?’

That pork variant was pleasing sufficient, nevertheless it may be taught a number of classes from the rice-less pork stomach taco particular and vice-versa. Right here, the pork had a far nearer resemblance to chicharróns with crunchy crackling snapping aside to disclose moist meat with a fatty undertow. All this made the tame salsa all of the extra shocking. That comparatively wealthy pork wanted a sharper and brigther sauce – which La Chingada is greater than able to making or procuring – as a counterbalance. Nonetheless, these had been delectable tacos.

illustrative photo of the chicharrón pork belly tacos special at La Chingada
Tacos de chicharrón

In a discipline of stiff competitors, the best of La Chingada’s pork taco specials needed to be their model of cochinita pibil. Each moist strand of pig had a bitter tang and gently fruity sweetness, a flavoursome double-punch that not solely outshone virtually each different model of this traditional taco filling I’ve had in London. It additionally fulfilled that promise of candy and bitter that no anglicised Chinese language takeaway pap has ever come near attaining.

illustrative photo of the cochinita pibil tacos special at La Chingada
Certainly one of many specials that I might like to see as a everlasting addition to the common, on a regular basis menu.

La Chingada’s spicy steak tacos particular was so significantly better than their common plain steak tacos, that it’s hardly a good contest. Easy and tinged with hints of woody smoke and topped with a skinny but unmistakable trim of fats, the meat was additionally distinct from its extra unctuous relation within the suadero tacos. The elective spicy avocado on the facet added a chunky, creamy piquancy that so important to the proceedings that it wasn’t actually elective in any respect.

illustrative photo of the special steak tacos at La Chingada
The spice of life.

The moderately crunchy pastry of the empanadas was high quality, however finally forgettable – very similar to the drab, gray meat inside. The actual star right here was the fruity warmth of the sauce on the facet.

illustrative photo of the empanada special at La Chingada
empanada at La Chingada

Whereas not fairly as luxurious because the variations typically out there at Santo Remedio, the tamales nonetheless had the good thing about fluffy smooth steamed masa often tinged with a touch of nuttiness. The model stuffed with pork was missing in aptitude and would’ve made for bland consuming with out the sprightly sauce on the facet – steaming, unsurprisingly, doesn’t actually go well with pork (or at the least it didn’t go well with this pork).

The vegetarian model was much better – a light chilli pepper and a log of cheese, presumably Oaxacan in fashion, combining the stable heft of halloumi with the creaminess of mozzarella. With or with out the sauce, it made for a respectably satisfying tamal.

illustrative photo of the pork tamal at La Chingada
pork tamal at La Chingada
illustrative photo of the cheese tamal special at La Chingada
I’ll always remember the time when one in all my eating companions tried to eat a tamal when it was nonetheless in its corn husk wrapper.

Desserts at La Chingada

There solely ever appears to be one dessert out there at anybody time at La Chingada, a tres leches cake, a flan or a mango cheesecake. Though the tres leches wasn’t fairly as wealthy as the perfect examples of its sort, I nonetheless are likely to favour it for its moist and tightly-crumbed mass tinged with vanilla.

illustrative photo of the tres leches cake at La Chingada
Tres leches? Extra like dos leches.

The graceful, smooth and squidgy triangles of flan had been nice sufficient, however had been overly depending on a boozy tang for flavour. The mango cheesecake had a great basis in its wispily mild and gently creamy layer of set cheese. The biscuit base was too skinny and loose-crumbed for my liking although, whereas there was extra mango flavour within the syrup-drizzled whipped cream than there was within the fruit layer itself.

  • illustrative photo of the flan at La Chingada
  • illustrative photo of the flan at La Chingada Southwark
  • illustrative photo of the flan dessert at La Chingada
  • illustrative photo of the flan pudding at La Chingada

The Verdict

For a restaurant that started off fairly shakily, it’s outstanding how constantly scrumptious the dishes at La Chingada have turn out to be – the troughs/dips within the kitchen’s high quality actually are few and much in between. Whereas many diners at La Chingada appear to favour the burritos, I chalk this error as much as the maintain that the burrito has over the very concept of Mexican meals within the UK’s common creativeness – a bizarre psychocultural panorama that may’t assist however pigeonhole ‘ethnic’ cuisines into only a handful of trope-like dishes. When chosen from properly, the tacos and quesadillas at La Chingada – together with the ever-delightful and ever-varied Sunday specials – provide a meal that’s much more rewarding than any London burrito may ever hope to be.

The one factor holding La Chingada again from snagging 5 Stars is the service – incorrect payments, forgotten dishes and common total sluggishness are the one actual blight on what’s in any other case one in all London’s greatest Mexican eating places. La Chingada has so few friends, that it’s virtually in a league of its personal. Virtually.

What to order: Suadero tacos; alambre tacos; plain and chorizo quesadillas; mollettes; the Sunday specials

What to skip: The burritos; presumably the pastor tacos

Title: La Chingada

Tackle: 12 Rotherhithe New Highway, London SE16 2AA

Telephone: 020 3972 3243


Opening Hours: Tuesday-Saturday noon-22.00; Sunday noon-21.00. Closed Monday. 

Reservations? not taken.

Common price for one individual together with smooth drinks and tip: £25-35 approx. (£45 in case you push the boat out as I did)

Ranking: ★★★★☆



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