A new place this is not. Mexicano has merely moulted the Señor Pico moniker, and the lively restaurant that patrons have known and loved for 23 years hasn’t changed much at all. A salsa band still plays each week, the margaritas are still tangy (B250), the food still real-deal. What differs from the past, however, is a more singular dedication to home-style culinary traditions from across Mexico, recipes found, formed, and informed by native son Chef Carlos Bravo.
From coastal Veracruz comes a zesty ceviche swimming with sea bass and tuna (B325). The fish is cubed, a preparation more familiar to Thai diners than the julienned strips of seafood preferred along the Gulf of Mexico, where all kinds of sea life, even octopus, often finds its way into a good ceviche. The fish is dressed with salt, pepper, olive oil, sliced red onion, and lots of lemon juice, achieving flavours not unlike a good pla neung manao. The ceviche, then beefed up with chunks of avocado sourced from Michoacán and crunchy little pumpkin seeds, is served with hot and fresh tortilla chips, giving it even greater textural contrast.
Moving from sea to shank, Chef Bravo takes short ribs with 20 per cent fat, cooks them low and slow, and flash-fries the now tender and diced meat before piling it in house-made corn tortillas for his take on tacos suaderos (B350) a rare treat even among taquerías in the West. On top of the mounds of meat goes Mozzarella-like queso fresco, a salsa from Mayan times called xnipec (onions pickled with vinegar, habanero, bay leaf, oregano, and more), and a dollop of red or green salsa, or a bit of both—the so-called Christmas-style of New Mexico.
Clearly the work of a chef par excellence, Mexicano’s cochinita pibil offers a traditional taste from the Yucatán peninsula (B325). Here the cochinita pibil involves hunks of succulent pork neck and leg, stewed four hours in a savoury-sweet marinade of achiote, jalapeño, oregano, and orange juice; the xnipec again; and flour tortillas made fresh in the kitchen. The meat can practically be poked through like room-temperature butter. The flavours are complex and tangy, the tacos two-napkin food, the kind that disappears from tables as fast as it arrives.
When a seminal restaurant like Señor Pico rebrands, what usually follows is an overhaul, a stripping down and shellacking to create a wildly new identity. Not so at Mexicano. The wheel hasn’t been reinvented, but rather refined. And that should keep all appetites satisfied.
The Rembrandt Hotel Bangkok, 19 Sukhumvit 18 | 0 2261 7100 | facebook.com/mexicanobkk | daily 5pm-midnight; Sat brunch 12pm-3pm