Mexican food has always held a close place in my heart, at least a frozen margarita does. It was my first ever alcoholic drink at 15 bought by my friend’s mother who took us out for a end of school year treat. Needless to say, we were not walking home fully upright.
Since then – and many Mexican restaurants and magaritas later – the frozen drink has been one of the ways I judge a Mexican restaurant. While my first instinct was to reject Comida Mexicana’s frozen tamarind margarita ($18 per glass), in the spirit of adventure, I accepted and was surprised at how its icy, umami flavours instantly livened up my taste buds – perfectly timed before our ensuing Mexican feast.
A sister brand to Margarita’s (and occupying its former East Coast premises), Comida Mexicana is helmed by Vivian Wee, one of Margarita’s directors who has taken over this offshoot as her own. With a name that literally translates as Mexican Food, the menu noticebly veers more towards Mexican cuisine than Tex-Mex (although the usual suspects, burritos and fajitas, are present).
For instance, their enchiladas use shredded beef, not ground beef, carnitas are served with corn tortillas (made inhouse), and items like the Mash Avocado Sopes ($20), a traditional antojito (street food), use a crisp, fried masa base before its piled high with chunks of fresh, creamy avocado, refried beans and a wedge of lime – easily a dish worth coming back for.
The homestyle feel is particularly important to Wee who informs us that everything is made from scratch, with fresh ingredients sourced and imported from Mexico and the USA, and it shows in the food and the homey flavours we tasted. The homemade tortilla chips are served with housemade dips, clearly not originating from a packet. In particular, the Red Salsa ($6) with its distinct smoked flavours due to its blend of traditional Mexican ingredients (ancho, de arbol, pasilla and chipotle) and the Green Tomatillo Salsa ($7), easily the most moorish of the two, thanks to its use of tart, green husk tomatoes.
Portion size at Comida Mexicana is also worth highlighting. The Enrollados ($18), a chicken “popiah” filled with chunks of chicken, Monterey Jack cheese, jalapeño and tomatoes wrapped in wheat tortillas that’s egg-dipped and fried, was a meal in itself. And while it’s been deep fried, it arrived practically free of grease, making this a not too heavy starter to enjoy.
The very Insta-friendly Mexican yucatan chicken ($28) of five chicken skewers coated in achiote (a spicy, flavorful glaze) sitting atop crisp cabbage slaw is served in a freshly-fried tortilla bowl with grilled orange wedges and steamed tortillas for you to personalise and wrap to your liking. A hearty mouthful that treads a delicate balance of salty, sweet and sour with enough contrasting textures to make it a dish worth returning for again.
By this stage of the meal, dessert will not seem feasible, but it’s worth powering through, even if its just one dessert for the table to share. The Salted Caramel Pina Colada Bread Pudding ($15) is a dessert you’re unlikely to find elsewhere. The brioche is first soaked in dark rum and cream, then studded with chopped pineapples and served with a scoop of homemade, creamy coconut ice cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce and toasted coconut shavings.
While it sounds like it’ll send you immediately into a food coma, it actually gives that much desired sweet ending but one that doesn’t leave a cloying sweetness that overpowers every other flavour experienced – because that would be a real shame at Comida Mexicana.
404 East Coast Rd, 6440 8030