If you’ve been to Missy Ho’s in Kennedy Town, you’ll know what I mean when I say that it is possible for Castelo Concepts restaurants to break away from the cookie cutter mould. Co-owner Persi has yet again worked his magic with the newest restaurant to open under the CC umbrella, El Loco Gringo, a Mexican taquería and tequila bar up on Bonham Road of all places.
Unless you know what to look for, El Loco Gringo isn’t particularly easy to find, since, like Missy Ho’s, it doesn’t really have any signage. From the road, it looks like a very small space, but head down the stairs and you’ll be surprised at how big it actually is.
Follow the hopscotch course around the corner to the bar to have a Loco’s Margarita first, before taking a seat (and a sombrero) in the restaurant. The interiors, designed by Charlie & Rose, are inspired by a famous Mexican TV show called El Chavo del Ocho, a very silly show that we used to watch as kids in Venezuela. The show is set in a typical Mexican slum, so in the restaurant you’ll see rows of laundry hanging from a line above the tables.
Although there are chopsticks on the tables, the food, like the chef, is authentically Mexican and all designed for sharing. After gobbling down some excellent chicharrones with guacamole at the bar with our margaritas, our feast continued with a platter of jalapeños rellenos, deep-fried chillies stuffed with minced beef, with a side of rich cheesy sauce – yum!
The jicama sticks with chamoy sauce weren’t to everyone’s liking, which meant all the more for me! Here, a stack of jicama (similar to a yam), carrots and celery were drizzled in a flavoursome spicy sauce made with pickled fruit that was sweet, salty and sour all at once.
There’s something about the simplicity of corn on the cob smothered in cheese that gets me every time. El Loco Gringo’s elote asado was no exception and we had to refrain from ordering another round, given we weren’t sure how much more food Persi was bringing out for us.
For me, the tamales weren’t particularly noteworthy, although the accompanying beef tartare was pretty delicious.
Of the list of ceviches, we tried three. Both the scallops aguachile and the pulpo con puré de papa were fresh, light and delicious, the latter cooked to a perfect texture. The Spanish mackerel de mango, however, was my favourite. Chunks of sweet white fish were not nearly as potent as any mackerel I’ve had before and were beautifully paired with sweet, juicy chunks of fresh mango.
Since El Loco Gringo describes itself as a ‘taquería’, it would only be right to sample a selection of its tacos. No matter which tacos you order, you’ll be presented with a selection of eight salsas and citruses, which you can mix and match to complement your tacos. We started with the baja langosta, which consisted of tempura-style lobster with a sweet-spicy Baja California sauce.
The pollo al pilbil and the costillas de res were also tasty, yet the stand-out was definitely the al pastor taco, made with spit-grilled pineapple pork and coriander. We had been eyeing up the pork slowly cooking on a spit throughout our meal, and it was without a doubt worth the wait.
I didn’t find any of the tacos particularly spicy, but that’s where the salsas came in, as everyone could add as much or as little as they wanted to achieve their desired level of spice.
Since it was my birthday, a box of Sift cupcakes had been brought along with us, but that didn’t stop Persi from serving us a plate of churros con chocolate as well! The churros, fried to a satisfying crisp and generously sprinkled in sugar and cinnamon, were the perfect size to enjoy without feeling too guilty and the rich chocolate sauce was divine.
Our bill, not including a few beers and the churros, which Persi very kindly gave us as a birthday present, came to $600 a head for five of us, which, for an insane amount of very good food and cocktails, didn’t seem all that bad. If you’re familiar with the vibe at Missy Ho’s, I can very much imagine it will be quite the same at El Loco Gringo, but perhaps even a little bit more loco!
El Loco Gringo
49 Bonham Road
Sai Ying Pun
Tel: +852 2858 8833