>> Chamo Venezuelan Cuisine | Eat the World Los Angeles

Wednesday 25 May 2022

Chamo Venezuelan Cuisine

Colorado Blvd. facade

๐Ÿ…ฟ️ Parking in plaza behind restaurant
๐Ÿฅค No Alcohol
Pasadena sometimes gets a bad reputation for food from people that consider themselves knowledgeable. Even as the most populated city in the San Gabriel Valley, it is often overshadowed by the delicious cuisines of the many communities that stretch to the east. But it is home to more than just little old ladies, its university residents keep the feeling young everywhere around town, and unique and classic restaurants are there to be found.

On the busy stretch of Colorado Blvd. surrounded by chain shops, boba parlors, and nondescript eating options lives five year old Chamo Venezuelan Cuisine, which seems to be a destination for the Southland's residents missing their arepas venezolanas. After a decent but underwhelming meal at the other fast casual Venezuelan spot further west right in downtown Pasadena, Chamo is the clear winner of the neighborhood.

Arepa pabellรณn

Chamo/chama are undefined words that only Venezuelans use, taking a meaning more from how it is used in conversation. A word for a boy, a girl, a buddy or stranger. After biting into the arepas made here, you will also speak this language, starting with the perfect arepa pabellรณn ($12.95, above). This combines shredded beef, black beans, fried sweet plantains, and cheese.

When eating in the restaurant or out front, the shredded white cheese that covers the rest of the toppings in your arepa starts to melt fast upon arrival because the griddled corn masa top and bottom are the temperature of the sun. If you do not specify, you will get beef pabellรณn, pretty much the national dish of Venezuela, but chicken is also available.

Asado negro

Cups of mayo-based garlic sauces will come with your order, one smooth and very garlicky and the other amped up with the fire of many peppers. Either way you prefer, these both add positives to your arepas or other fried goodies. Before talking about those, the delicious traditional platters offer meals that revolve around rice and sometimes black beans and take you through many of Venezuela's most important dishes.

The asado negro ($14.50, above) is unlike any other you will see in South or Central America, roast beef slightly sweetened by a red wine sauce. This dish is usually not seen with beans but always must be accompanied by both white rice and fried sweet plantains. Every version you will try will taste different, even if you were invited into every home in Caracas, making it so unique and important in the country.

Empanada de carne molina

Venezuelans also love their snacks, from burgers and hot dogs fully loaded with everything found in the fridge to all manner of deep fried goodies. The empanada de carne molida ($7.95, above) is one of four styles of empanadas available, stuffed with ground beef and a tomato-based sauce. Like their Colombian neighbors, the wrapper of an empanada in Venezuela is corn dough, a little thicker than its wheat cousins, and usually deep fried.

An order is just one, but the meat or cheese-filled empanada of your choice is much larger than usual and pretty filling. Split it with someone else and use both the garlic dips to really feel like life is good.

Guava and cheese tequeรฑos

If you have ever walked in a Venezuelan city at night, you will of course have memories of cheesy goodness ordering tequeรฑos from at least one vendor. With these the cheese or other goodies inside are wrapped with wheat bread dough before frying. While usually just cheese, these tequeรฑos de guayaba y queso ($8.25, above) make a perfect dessert, with a slightly sweet guava jam joining the melty goodness.

If you live in Pasadena, this is your chance to become a regular chamo or chama. If work or life brings you there and you need a quick lunch that is full of good ingredients and made with love, this is your spot.


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