Restaurant review: Mamasita’s Cantina, Central – there’s hope yet for quality Mexican food in Hong Kong

Great slow-cooked ribs, decent tacos, and rich churros all prepared by a Mexican chef – at last an antidote to the sloppy, heavy messes smothered in sour cream and shredded cheese that have passed as Mexican cuisine in the city

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 December, 2016, 5:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 December, 2016, 5:37pm

Most of the Mexican food served in Hong Kong isn’t going to win over any fans to the cuisine, unless you like gloopy, sloppy, heavy messes that use far too much sour cream and shredded cheese. The cuisine can be light, varied and delicious, but that’s not what you get here.

The dishes at Mamasita’s Cantina give us hope: the emphasis is on the food, not on getting drunk on frozen margaritas made from a mix (although they do serve creative cocktails, both in the restaurant and the Cuban bar one floor above). The chef is from Mexico, and he came to our table (as well as that of other guests) to talk about the food and to see if we had any questions.

We were wary of the guacamole (HK$88) which had a “touch of white truffle oil” listed as an ingredient. Fortunately, although you could smell the white truffle, you couldn’t taste it. The guacamole was thick with roughly mashed, ripe avocado, along with tomato, onion and a bit of chilli. The corn tortilla chips were thick and crisp.

My two guests were put off by the sweet-salty flavours of the pork belly tamal (HK$88). I liked the flavours, but disliked the pasty texture of the masa.

We all enjoyed the tacos – fish (HK$88 each) and pork carnitas (HK$88) tacos, although we would have preferred soft corn tortillas, rather than the flour ones used here. The fish taco had a light beer batter coating, while the pork version – which we liked best – tasted as if it had some bits of chewy chorizo in there.

The best dish of the night was the barbecued pork ribs pibil (HK$258). The slow-cooked ribs, slathered in a rich sauce, had tender meat with just enough fat. The heavy flavours of the meat went very well with the delicious apple and cabbage slaw, which was crunchy and light.

We also liked the churros (HK$88). Crisp and warm, and dusted with cinnamon sugar, the churros came with a rich chocolate sauce and salted caramel ice cream.

Mamasita’s Cantina, 5/F and 6/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2896 6118. About HK$300 without drinks or the service charge