First Look: Toronto gets an outpost of Montreal’s Mochica


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Image: Yvonne Tsui

Mochica, a Toronto outpost of one of Montreal’s Peruvian restaurants, now occupies the space at 614 College St. The address, near Bathurst, had been home to Pisco 1641. 

The restaurant’s name refers to the Moche civilization that pre-dated the Incas in the narrow strip of Peru between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes.


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

Co-owner and chef, Martin Oré who is from Trujillo opened Mochica in Montreal 12 years ago to pay homage to his roots. His culinary roots started at home with his abuela. Having tired of life as a civil servant with the Housing Society of Quebec, Oré decided to turn passion into a career and enrolled in the Cordon Bleu culinary school in Lima, studying traditional Peruvian cuisine. He further honed his culinary skills at the Académie Culinaire de Montreal.

Oré is a restaurant veteran who also owns HuacaMar and Ceviche Bar in Trujillo and the Mochican Palace Hotel, a 4-star hotel in Huanchaco Peru. 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

When asked why he had his sights on Toronto as the first outpost, Oré says “I have already received guests here in Toronto who know us in Montreal and we visit here, they tell us: it saves us the trip!” 

The menu at Mochica is seafood heavy, paying homage to Trujillo, a coastal city abundant in fish and shellfish. Ceviche features prominently on the menu, though, if you want to experience something that is reflective of Peruvian culture, you’ll want to opt for the Tiradito, a cousin to ceviche that was influenced by Peru’s Japanese ex-pats. Dishes feature contrasting splashes of vibrant colors: yellow passionfruit and red pomegranate seeds just to name two. It’s food meets art.


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

If you’re feeling adventurous, the Anticucho de Corazon or grilled beef heart is a meatier option. If you’re feeling really adventurous, there’s also alpaca on offer. Traditionally, a llama was sacrificed to the gods but Oré has decided to source his meat from the alpaca (llama’s smaller cousin) farms of Quebec. For those who have never tasted alpaca before, Oré describes it as somewhere between lamb and veal.  

The drinks menu is pisco-heavy, from the traditional Pisco Sour made from lime, sugar and spirits to more unconventional offerings like passionfruit. Oré brings in Peruvian pisco, currently unavailable in the Ontario market. 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

The décor in the restaurant includes an Andy Warhol-esque mural of “The Smiling Man,” an iconic piece of Mochican pottery as well as various statues, displays of gold masks which played a significant role in Mochican culture. There are also pieces of art made with adobe, a kind of clay used predominantly in the Mochican civilization to build pyramids. 

Mochica, 614 College St., 647-352-1641, Wednesday to Sunday for dinner starting at 5 p.m. 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

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Yvonne is a freelance food and drink writer and the Director of Brand Experience at U-Feast, which curates unique, off-menu dining experiences.  Always in search of delicious. Decor and service be damned, food is king. Follow her @life_of_y and @u_feast.  Warning: don't look at her "feed" if you're hungry.

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