Dinner 10/30 -- RJ Mexican Cuisine, Dallas, TX


(Jason Brandt Lewis) #1

Visiting our friends Mimi and Tony in Dallas/Ft. Worth for the torrential flood/Halloween weekend, we had dinner yesterday at RJ Mexican Cuisine (1701 North Market Street). Being from California, we certainly have our fair share of Mexican food, but this was far closer to the exquisite upscale meals we’ve had in Guadalajara, for example, than your average Mexican meal we think of here in the States . . . or even Cabo or Tijuana.

Executive Chef Ronald Von Hatten, or “RV” to his friends, came out to our table and made us Californians feel as if we’d been not just regular customers, but “Friends for Life.” A gracious host, and a talented chef, he made sure our visit was as enjoyable and fun as it was tasty and satisfying.

We started with some excellent fresh Margaritas made by Adriana, and the following appetizers: Guacamole Supreme (guacamole, lump crabmeat, pico de gallo, ranch), and their take on Nachos (ahi tuna, jalapeno, pico de gallo, avocado butter, sriracha aioli, taro chips) – both were delicious, but the flavor of the ahi, coupled with the creaminess of the avocado and the balance of heat / spice / undercurrent of sweetness between the sriracha, pico de gallo, and the taro was a real treat!

Lynn & I both had a chipotle-rubbed steak that managed to achieve a perfect balance heat & spice AND allowing the delicious flavor of the Texas beef to come through. This was served with one of the best Chile Relleno I’ve ever had. Filled with shrimp, tomato, onion, serrano chiles, cilantro, and Mexican cheeses, it was almost tempura-like in its light crispiness – not oily or at all heavy! – and the shrimp were perfectly cooked, plump, sweet and delicate (it’s way too easy to overcook shrimp in a preparation like this).

This place was truly exceptional, both in the care they take with their patrons and in the quality of their cuisine. I know we’ll be coming back . . . already looking forward to it!


(Vanessa) #2

Thank you for the review. We need to check this out.


(Sharon Peters) #3

Um, while the food sounds tasty and the chef convivial, this is not by any stretch of the imagination Mexican 'food". Call it ‘New Texan’ or upscale Tex-Mex, but please do not embarrass yourself by calling it “Mexican”. Ms. Kennedy would be all over you like white on rice for that misnomer … that is, after she had filleted the chef. Guacamole is not made with pico de gallo. Lump crabmeat belongs in Chilpachole de Jaiba, not in Guacamole. And Ranch? Please, God, tell me they did not insult an avocado with Ranch dressing. And the nachos … jalapeño and pico de gallo (probably made with jalapeños instead of serranos), avocado b.u.t.t.e.r?, avocado IS the 'mantequilla de los pobres", WTF is sriracha doing in Mexico? Vacationing in Cancun? Aioli? With avocado butter? Taro chips? The Hawai’ians have landed? Yucca chips, perhaps, but taro? Did the plate arrive adorned with leis? Mexicans do not rub steaks with chipotle. Americans do. It is culinary Viagra, nothing more. Question is whether it is for the chef, the male customer, or both. And while Vietnamese cuisine deploys cheese on seafood, it is not really a Mexican thing. Further, the capa, or batter on a chile relleno is, properly done, not crisp like tempura. And as for the shrimp’s preparation, likely barely cooked, tossed with the other salad-like ingredients, then the chile battered and quickly fried - quickly fried, so that the guts of the relleno are barely heated through. I shudder to think what the upcharge for this meal must have been.


(Jason Brandt Lewis) #4
  1. I’m not embarrassed. It’s the name of the restaurant: RJ Mexican Cuisine.

  2. Personally, I don’t think it’s Tex-Mex. But I will repeat that, for my wife and I, it was far more reminiscent of the meal we had at, say, Cocina 88 in Guadalajara than any Tex-Mex food I’ve ever had . . . .

  3. I could care less about the specific ingredients and their “authenticity”; I care more about HOW the food tastes, rather than WHAT is in the dish (e.g.: it doesn’t matter to me one whit if it’s Sriracha, Tabasco, or a hot sauce imported directly from Chiapas – as long as it’s tastes good, my taste buds will be happy).


#5

Please critique the food, not the person re: “embarass”. Thank you.


(Sharon Peters) #6

Thank you. On re-reading my post, I believe that the comments were about the food described. It is unfortunate that the comments were taken as an ad hominem attack. There clearly were not meant to. That said, the food described, while surely tasty, it is decidedly not Mexican - and that was the point.


#7

I agree with you Jason. And I’m always happy to see folks exploring interesting facets and interpretations of various cuisines rather than just locking oneself into one stifling and restrictive culinary shoebox, especially if it’s simply in order to adhere to somebody else’s idea of what he/she should or should not be doing. I loved your review and definitely find the restaurant, chef, and concept intriguing. I also think it’s up to the chef to determine how to label his/her food. I do make it up to Dallas with some regularity and absolutely will make it a point to visit. Thanks for taking the time to post this.

I’d like to add that I’m thrilled to see more and more knowledgeable folks joining Hungry Onion, and I hope this sort of public “listen here you fool” excoriation won’t discourage you, or anyone else, from posting. I have great hopes for this site and, if I weren’t so mouthy and opinionated, reading something like this might well give even me pause before I risked wading in.


#8

This one phrase has really stuck in my mind. I’m not sure exactly what you mean by this but, since many folks here undoubtedly are not so familiar with Mexican food as you clearly are, I kind of feel the need to clarify and expand a bit upon this one of your several definite “statements of absolute fact.”

You say that “Guacamole is not made with pico de gallo.” Perhaps this means that you are a guacamole purist and want nothing in yours but the classic salt and lime. However, as I feel pretty sure you probably know, in Mexico, “pico de gallo” means many things. The first time I had it was as an appetizer with drinks at a party in Zihuatanejo and it was chopped mango and jicama in a chile-citrus (lime & sour orange) marinade. It was served on a shallow platter, with toothpicks. The guests poked and pecked at the dish, spearing the bits they wanted. I was told by my very Mexican hostess that’s the reason for the name, “beak of the rooster,” because all the guests pecking at the plate resembled roosters in a barnyard.

And here’s Diana Kennedy’s definition: “Pico de gallo…is the colorful name given to a fresh relish of finely chopped ingredients seasoned with chile.” She goes on to mention the particular pico de gallo that most norteamericanos think of when they hear the term: “A fresh salsa Mexicana of chopped tomatoes, chiles, onions, and cilantro is referred to as pico de gallo in parts of northern Mexico.”

Because guacamole is basically a “mole” (meaning sauce, mixture, concoction) made with avocados (hence the name – aguacate mole), you really can put just about whatever you want into it. And correctly label your result guacamole.

So, since “pico de gallo” means many things, your definitive statement that “Guacamole is not made with pico de gallo” would rule out almost every combination of “chopped ingredients seasoned with chile” (assuming you agree with Diana Kennedy’s definition, of course) that I can think of. Pretty broad elimination, it seems to me.

Diana Kennedy’s guacamole (page 11, Essential Cuisines of Mexico) calls for 3 avocados, which you coarsely mash, and to which you add chopped white onion, serrano chiles, cilantro, chopped tomatoes. True that she prefers the onions, chiles and cilantro ground into a paste in the molcajete before adding them to the mashed avocados and the chopped tomatoes, but there’s no getting away from the fact that the flavor profile is going to be exactly what we think of as the Mexican salsa fresca type of pico de gallo, just exactly as she describes it, and avocados.