Pujol is a restaurant by chef Enrique Olvera. My first time was in 2009 and I really enjoyed it. Pujol is also rated as one of the top 100 best restaurants in the world. This time I’m in the DF with another colleague who wanted to try it. We tried Biko last time, which ranked higher than Pujol on the list. Based on those two experiences, I enjoyed Pujol a lot more mainly because the service at Pujol was much better. During that time, I couldn’t take photos in Pujol with my Canon SD400, it was just too dark! Don’t worry though, I took photos with my phone because we happened to be sitting in the most optimal spot of the restaurant!
During this visit, Pujol had three types of menus. Two tasting menus and an a la carte menu. You have the option to do a five course or an eight course tasting menu. Since it was lunch, we opted for the five course. NOTE: They do not have English menus. Heck if you are doing the tasting menu, you’re essentially leaving it up to the chef to tell you what’s good, right?
We started with a HUGE amuse bouche. Sorry this photo is blurry:
A stuffed zucchini blossom, soup and corn. The zucchini blossom had a black bean/taro like filling (we couldn’t understand what the waiter was telling us was inside it!) but I much prefer the Vietnamese style, where there is ground shrimp stuffed inside the zucchini and then quickly fried! I can’t remember what the name of the soup was, but it was very tart, like lime rind tart and it was well balanced with the sprouts they included in it.
So the corn arrived in that large smoking container! When you open the lid, all of the smoke exited and then there were two sticks of corn inside. At first I was thinking hmmm are these going to taste like canned corn? But actually it doesn’t, it tastes exactly like corn you would grill on your own (like at a bonfire) but perfectly cooked little kernels. It tasted like the sweetest part of the corn. Like!
My drink arrived and it was sangria for 4 bucks! I love how you can see how much wine they used. It was a great addition to our sunny lunch outing!
So onto our first course:
Looks pretty right? I was excited because I really like zucchini flowers. What you see are tomatoes, queso fresco, zucchini flowers, zucchini over black beans. Let’s see, I’m forgetting something:
Oh! Jumiles. What the heck! We both looked at each other, not realizing that we’d be having bugs. It was pretty funny. When we asked the waiter, he explained to us that these bugs are very rich in flavor. At least that’s all I can gather. Hey it can’t be that bad if the chef is serving it to us. And I wonder to myself, did Pujol serve insects when I ate here in 2009? I wouldn’t have known because it was too dark to tell, haha. In the end the bugs weren’t that bad. As my colleague said, “they’re like a replacement for croutons.” It definitely gave the dish more texture!
Our next course was a ball of cheese with a tomato based broth. This one was not bad, imagine a super light version of tomato soup with goat cheese. If you’re not a fan of goat cheese then this would not be for you.
For the next dish, the waiter comes out with a plate that is covered in white sauce. In his hand is a tiny burlap bag. He explains to us (in Spanish) the dish that is being presented. Suddenly, he takes the burlap bag, places it over our dish, gives the bag a quick shake and out comes black dust! This black dust is like truffles in Mexico, it’s a type of fungus that grows on corn. Under the cream sauce was a tamale filled with green tomatoes. This was my personal favorite because it was a very light tasting tamale. As for the black dust, I can’t say I tasted too much of it to differentiate that from the white foam.
Our fourth dish was “Barbacoa de cordero lechal” aka bbq lamb. Doesn’t it sound much better to say it in Spanish versus in English? ha! I liked this dish because the meat was really tender. They served this with some freshly hand made tortillas. If I wasn’t so full from the other dishes I would’ve eaten all of this!
Our last dish was dessert!
A berry sorbet swimming in Mezcal. The waiter lit a match and let the flame touch the mezcal. I don’t know if you can see it (the blue halo around the sorbet?) but the flame was burning for quite awhile! We thought it immediately died when the waiter left but you really have to blow it out in order to eat it! Mezcal goes really well with dessert because it has a sweeter taste but you can still taste the alcohol. Kind of like a white tequila.
Overall I enjoyed my food. Though, I wasn’t expecting there to be such a huge Mexican inspiration in the dishes. When I came in 2009, it didn’t have such a strong Mexican flair to it, i.e. with the second visit, I had tamale, tortillas, and black beans/queso fresco. Was it strange to eat bugs? Not really, this is my third time intentionally eating an insect that was served to me. My first time was in China eating deep fried wasp larvae which tasted like tempura style shrimp. My second time was eating escamole, ant larvae eggs, which tasted like corn. So, I think I got over the hurdle of eating insects. Though the idea of eating spiders such as tarantulas is still too much for me!
I still really like Pujol and would definitely recommend Pujol to anyone who is planning to visit Mexico City. Pujol is located in Polanco off of one of the main streets, Horacio.
Petrarca 254, Polanco
11570 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico