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[Hole in the Wall] Salvadoran Supremacy Again?

Salvadoran Supremacy Again?

Before I discuss the pearls of Salvadoran grub found at Flor Blanca, a quick aside to note the most bizarre tchotchke I’ve yet seen in an Orange County restaurant. It’s a wooden plaque hanging behind the counter, decorated with colored engravings of flowers and birds around the saying “Orine feliz/Orine contento/Pero por favor/Orine adentro” (Urinate happily/Urinate satisfied/But please/Urinate inside). It’d be one thing if this Latin American aphorism hung above the men’s urinal, but to place it in a spot most diners will gaze at after a meal? Either the restaurant owner possesses a warped sense of humor, or Salvadorans ain’t pee-shy.

Micturition matters aside, Flor Blanca’s food is excellent. No real surprises on the menu, as Salvadoran cuisine is the pajamas of ethnic cuisine. Thick, cheesy pupusas grilled long enough that bumps of char rise from the masa; beef prepared with onions, in a stew, or shredded; fried yuca and steamed tamales—you can find the items Flor Blanca prepares at nearly every Salvadoran restaurant in Southern California. But they do distinguish themselves with the careful preparation of each meal. Though others may make larger pupusas, you’ll rarely find them as delicious as the ones here. The cheese is gooey but not so piping-hot that it’ll burn your tongue, while the masa has actual flavor instead of the stale sabor too many local pupusas exhibit. Chilate con nuegados is still a relatively rare dish in Salvadoran restaurants, so take the opportunity to try this bowl of corn gruel mixed with candied yams and sweet plantain, a mix of breakfast cereal and oatmeal that Salvadorans nevertheless enjoy at all hours.

My favorite dish isn’t even on the menu: casamiento, a catch-all phrase meaning “wedding,” used to describe a type of stew made from any available ingredients but usually including black beans, white rice, a slab of hard goat cheese and Salvadoran sour cream (sweeter than the American version). Curiously, Flor Blanca doesn’t list casamiento for public consumption, but they’ll gladly whip up a plate for you if you ask. What came out for me was comforting gluttony, with bits of the cheese mixed into the black beans and white rice, plus strips of bell peppers and a couple of lima beans for heartiness. On the side shone a pool of sour cream. I’ve previously bemoaned the supremacy of Salvadoran horchata over the Mexican variety, and again, I must admit defeat: Flor Blanca’s casamiento makes our pinto beans and pink rice taste like drywall.

Flor Blanca #2, 12571 Harbor Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 539-8795.

 

garellano@ocweekly.com

 
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