In the first of this series, I covered Roma Norte’s Aleli, a rooftop eatery mastered by chef Oswaldo Oliva who refined his skills in Spain’s premier restaurants: the Basque country’s Mugaritz and El Celler de Can Roca in Girona. Also in Roma Norte: Nudo Negro (Black Knot), which turned out the best meal during my December CDMX visit, the standout dinner, in fact, of all of 2021.
I was joined by chef and cookbook author Mani Niall, who launched the renowned Mäni’s on Fairfax Ave. in Los Angeles, circa 1989.
Mani had eaten at Nudo Negro at least once and had raved about the virtuosity of the Asian-Mexican cuisine. My high expectations were met at every turn.
Originally from Mexico City, Chef Daniel Ovadía once finessed dishes at the now-shuttered Paxia restaurant, located in San Ángel area of Mexico City. The eatery was a blend of traditional and avant-garde Mexican cuisine, intellectuals, producers, and artists.
Some of that style is evident at Nudo Negro with its bold neon artwork, a jumbo wall photo, high ceilings, exposed brick and inviting wrap-around leafy terrace. The main attraction is the upstairs kitchen where we were ushered for a tour: chefs displayed their wizardry at turning out dumplings in the small bustling space that overlooked the main dining areas.
We started, in fact, with the dumplings de pato. The fluffy dough was filled with duck done with kaffir lime, almond milk, hazelnut oil, green beans and smoked chili. Served in a fetching basket, they were delectable.
The main dish: Chamorro de cerdo, pork glazed with honey (it was caramelized tableside with a torch) and cardamom––and served with carrots, beetroots, dill, spring onions and puré de papacerda.
We stuffed lettuce cups with the pork and flavorings—the succulent texture and combination of sweet and savory cradled by lettuce was just perfect.
Here and there, we dipped into the ceviche verde de pescado, laced with fresh coconut and cucumber––and lemon juice of course. It was paired with tostadas “charras.”
The meal was polished with molten chocolate cake––improbably, and yet optimally paired with yellow curry, lemon and cashews. It was delicious.