Tonight was happy hour (which turned into dinner) with my new friend Elana. Since we were in Chinatown and my only Jose Andres experience was Jaleo, she decided we should check out Oyamel. I didn't love my first drink- China Paloma, which was tequila and grapefruit lavender soda - apparently I'd rather smell lavender than drink it, but it was way smoother than I had expected anything with tequila to be. I followed up with a cucumber-mint-lime agua fresca, which was delicious and refreshing. Elana enjoyed her classic margaritas.
When we sat down for dinner, we each picked a couple of small plates. Elana picked the Ceviche Veracruzana, described as "Lime marinated red snapper with fresh tomato sauce, capers, olives and piparra pepper air." She thought the strong flavors covered up the fishy flavor of the red snapper; I thought this made the dish, as I'm not really a seafood fan. The air was a little zesty for me, but all in all I enjoyed the experience. I thought the flavors meshed really well. I picked the Quesadilla de chicharrones, described as pasture raised Shenandoah Valley pork belly fried until crisp and served in a house made tortilla with chihuahua cheese and a sauce of five chiles. It also had some kind of bean, and while everything else was delicious (especially the pork and cheese combination), I felt that the bean could have been replaced with more pork and cheese. But the chile sauce was good - very mild. As for tacos, we started out with one with marinated chicken thighs, guacamole, and green onions. The chicken was absolutely delicious, but I thought it was a little heavy on the guacamole and would rather the onion had been sliced so I could have had some in each bite.
Finally, the point of this review: I ATE GRASSHOPPERS. A sauteed grasshopper taco is one of Oyamel's specialties, and I couldn't let the opportunity to try it pass. I was assured that they wouldn't have legs and would just be a little crispy. They were also smothered in tequila sauce. I wish I had taken a picture - it almost looked like heavily sauced carnitas. Although I was intimidated, knowing what they were, I manned up and took a bite. It wasn't as weird as I thought it would be, although that one bite was enough.
I'm not sure how authentic it was, but all in all, Oyamel was a very pleasant dinner experience - good service and tasty food. I'd love to go back and try more tacos!