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Dining Review: Experience South American flavor and comfort at Mi Latin Kitchen

The earthiness of the Colombian fare at Burbank's latest eatery has much to offer.

October 07, 2013|By Lisa Dupuy
  • A steaming hot bowl of sancocho soup at Mi Latin Kitchen in Burbank has ox tail, potatoes, plantains and yuca. Photographed on Thursday, October 3, 2013.
A steaming hot bowl of sancocho soup at Mi Latin Kitchen… (Roger Wilson / Staff…)

I love L.A. You can get food from all corners of the world here. Take, for example, the two-mile stretch of Burbank Boulevard in Burbank. Here you can find two Mexican restaurants, an Italian deli, a sushi place, an American sports bar, a Cuban eatery, a British pub, a wine enoteca, Swedish meatballs and now, a Colombian restaurant.

We recognized Mi Latin Kitchen by the Colombian flags on the side of the building. Charming outdoor tables caught our attention but the traffic noise pushed us inside. There we saw framed photos of Bogota, a stack of Colombian newspapers, South American music videos, and a cabinet of imported products that brought a smile to the face of my daughter's Colombian-Scottish boyfriend. Mi Latin Kitchen has only recently opened so there aren't too many customers. However, Andrew, the owners' son and our waiter, makes us feel at home.

We start with empanadas, naturally. The chicken one stands out, its stewed, spiced filling abundant and flavorful. They also offer cheese, beef and spinach empanadas, all of which, at $1.50 each, would make wonderful midday snacks. The empanadas come with a bowl of aji, everyone's favorite sauce. The aji recipe is a family secret but we sense cilantro, lemon, green onions, red pepper flakes and some kind of green chile, probably jalapeno. It's somewhere between chimichurri and salsa verde.

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For our main dish, we opt for some specialties of the house. The bandeja paisa is a platter of Colombian treats anchored by slices of grilled flank steak ($13). Sides include chicharron, a long chewy strip of fried pork belly. Flattened and fried plantain rounds are perfect rafts for spoonfuls of aji. On the other hand, arepa, an unleavened bread made of ground maize, is an acquired taste. Like a large, chewy communion host (any other Catholics out there?), it's not big on flavor. The bandeja paisa's red beans are dark and rich tasting, the white rice glistens in an attractive mound. A fried egg stares unblinkingly from the top. The beef is good, but not as good as the tender, grilled outside skirt steak in the garlic-infused dish, Entrana al Ajo ($15).

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