Tastes of Chile at La Roja de Todos in Queens

The drink is a shade between mud storm and tea, filtering down by means of puffy grains of husked wheat. A shadow rests on the heart like a fallen solar: a sun-dried peach, fattened in a single day in water steeped with cinnamon sticks, then simmered with chancaca, uncooked cane sugar.

That is mote con huesillo, Chile’s beloved half-drink, half-snack, thought of central to the nationwide character. (“Extra Chilean than mote con huesillo” is the saying.) At La Roja de Todos, a Chilean restaurant and bakery in Corona, Queens, it is available in a plastic cup, as if from a roadside motero (mote vendor), and tastes like a peach minus its voluptuousness, with an attenuated sweetness. You’re meant to eat the wheat, too, chewy with a touch of squeak, like tapioca pearls in bubble tea.

The restaurant’s title is in homage to the Chilean nationwide soccer group, which is near the guts of José Luis Norambuena, the proprietor. He comes from the port city of Valparaíso, Chile, about whose labyrinthine cobblestone streets the poet Pablo Neruda wrote, “life / all the time takes you / unexpectedly.”

Mr. Norambuena nonetheless retains his day job, in development, arriving on the restaurant at four p.m. to work into the evening. When he took over the house — one other Chilean restaurant — in November, there wasn’t time to alter the décor. So the partitions are nonetheless hung with ponchos and chupallas (horsemen’s hats) and painted pink, and tables are set with blue or pink cloths and white runners, colours honoring the Chilean flag.

Vania Isler, Mr. Norambuena’s daughter, patiently steers these unfamiliar along with her native delicacies towards dishes “yow will discover solely right here.” Foremost amongst them: pastel de choclo, allied in spirit with shepherd’s pie, introduced with an…

HashFlare
Categories: Food

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