***Update: Sergio is no longer at this branch of Mariscos Chente, but the food is as good as ever with Cosio family Patriarch, "Chente" Cosio, serving up some of the best raw Nayarit-style seafood in Los Angeles, next to his original branch, the top Mexican seafood restaurant in Los Angeles, Coni'Seafood.
Back in April, I broke the news that Sergio Penuelas, the chef behind the success of Mariscos Chente in Mar Vista, had left the restaurant to come work at the other Maricos Chente in Lennox, run by his father-in-law Vincente "Chente" Cosio.
It was at the Inglewood location of Mariscos Chente that I first came across Sergio doing a crawl through Lennox/Inglewood back in August of 2008. The family was operating out of Inglewood, awaiting repairs at the Mar Vista Chente, that had a kitchen fire sometime in 2008, causing the restaurant to close.
The Mar Vista branch was up and running by January of 2009, where after months of monitoring their progress since I first met them in '08, I attended the very soft opening for about ten friends and family.
From that post in January of 2009, Mariscos Chente soon became a favorite Mexican seafood destination in Los Angeles. Its many regulars including myself were shocked to learn that Sergio had left, and that he would be in Inglewood, which might as well be the Inland Empire to many of the Westside clientele. Worse yet? No pescado zarandeado?
Vincente Cosio, the ageless patriarch of the family, and the man who trained Sergio in the ways of the Nayarit kitchen, was working at the original Mariscos Chente's on Imperial Highway, the restaurant he started with his wife Magdalena (They later divorced and Magdalena took the Cosio family recipes and Sergio to open the Mar Vista Mariscos Chente).
Vincente left Mariscos Chente's with his daughter Connie Cosio, who now is the sole proprietor of the the renamed Coni'Seafood in Inglewood, at the original location on Imperial Highway. Whew! Hard to follow?
Well, once again they are reunited like Peaches and Herb. Sergio currently works from Thursday through Sunday, but no need to worry about his days off because Vincente is the one who taught him everything--these are family recipes. Vincente is a master of raw preparations: ceviches, cocktails, and aguachiles. His flavor is a little different from Sergio, but you're just about talking style, they've the same level of excellence.
Chente doesn't do the zarandeado (He thinks he's too old to be sweating over a grill) but order away from the rest of the menu. As much as I appreciate Sergio's cooking, I have no problem AT all having the best raw seafood cocktailing in L.A. from Chente.
Pescado Zarandeado is back!!
The signature grilled, butterflied snook that is without peer in Los Angeles is just as good as ever.
Ceviche of raw shrimp can be be had two ways, Sergio's and Vincente's.
The aguachile, too. Sweet shrimp from Sinaloa flash cooked with lime, and a slightly pulpy, puree of jalapeño chiles, a minimalist ceviche featuring Mexican white shrimp.
In addition to the grill and cocktail disciplines, there are the cooked dishes like the shrimp culichi, a creamy jalapeno sauce, a favorite of mine named after the people of Culiacan, Sinaloa.
A la pimienta, peppered shrimp, one of the treasured family recipes
Deviled shrimp at Mariscos Chente is the more refined version around town. It's wickedly flavorful with a crescendoing heat, rewarding the lips with a light tingle. You can strip away the shells or eat them whole--shell on.
The drunken shrimp, camarones borrachos, displays the true craft of Sergio Penuelas, with a vibrancy, and complexity unusual in most Sinaloan/Nayaritan kitchens.
Sergio, the refined Sinaloan cocktailer, cook, and grill man is back in action just a stone's throw away in Inglewood working with his mentor. When he isn't around and even when he is, you can experience the Nayaritan tradition of Vincente Cosio, the suave and virile seafood veteran from Acaponeta, Nayarit, whose shrimp ceviche is unrivaled.
If you're a follower of Sergio's work in Mar Vista, you have found a new home in Inglewood, and you haven't lost a restaurant at all, but gained a father-in-law.
10020 South Inglewood Ave.(at Century Bl.)
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