How can you tell if a certain food is authentic, how can you really judge unless you have been in the country where the food originated, or if you have visited and eaten at the home of someone who is from that place? I venture to write there is no way of telling, so all you can do is trust the restaurant and determine if the food taste good or is at least an exotic representative thereof.
Sofrito Puerto Rican cuisine in Manhattan, New York a restaurant/club is serving all of the classics and calling it Puerto Rican, but who can really know? In my endeavor to put my taste buds to work and my mental reservoir on overdrive, trying to recollect every piece of spanish cuisine I ever tasted to measure against, first up was the appetizer corn fritter sticks stuffed with cheese. Again, I dont know if this is a Puerto Rican staple, but I can write if it is, it shouldn’t be. Barely any no corn and mostly velvetta liquid cheese, not only could you not taste the corn, but after one bite when the cheese oozed out, it looked down right disgusting. Now I realize disgusting is a strong word, a word that would make one throw in the towel and leave the table, but I am a firm believer that first impressions can be wrong. So with that being written the traditional route is where I travelled next and ordered a shrimp and chicken empanada. The empanadas were meaty, spicy, crispy and generally ok, not delicious, not earth shattering, but definitely edible. At this point I feel completely uninspired and low on descriptives, but I am not about to quit just yet.
The main dishes are finally up, first dish seafood stew, translation, a reddish orange broth with shrimp, lobster, & calamari, and a side of of white rice. The fish tasted very fresh, perfectly cooked, and the broth was a tad spicy, smooth, and good for bread dipping, again not earth shattering, not extremely memorable, but good. The next dish stuffed red snapper, stuffed with shrimp and calamari along side coconut rice. This was a whole fish,head, eyeballs and all, which for presentation purposes looked exotic, but who wants to sift through the fish for bones. Sure they said it was going to be completely filleted but after finding two bones, I was a bit dubious, and the eating experience became a little lack luster thereafter. The coconut rice was cooked perfectly and absolutely delightful. Again the restaurant used the reddish orange sauce over what it appeared to be everything from what I surveyed from other patrons plates, yet even still the sauce remains nameless. The fish was baked and although not tremendously flavorful , it possessed a light and clean taste and when scooped up with sauce, the rice, and other seafood, dare I write it, I think my tastebuds actually stumbled upon, very good.
Now sure we all know that good is the enemy to best, but good can often be very pleasing, does it make it you think about it days after, does it make you day dream about it in the cool of the day, and wish it were across the street for take out, no not any of those things, but it was still good and dare I write worth a try.