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This Underground, Seven-Course Omakase In An El Sereno Front Yard Features Tom Yum Aguachile and Cacao Sopes

Evil Cooks' specially-tailored dinner pop-ups are an excuse to be creative, unshackling their culinary artistry with dishes so splendid and eye-catching, that you may come to the conclusion that they've sold their soul down in Georgia.

Taqueros are chefs, too.

In the foothills of El Sereno, behind a black iron fence anchored in brick, a black EZ-UP canopy stands propped in front of a home, with two tables set up long ways and plastic party stools painted black. The scene is set for a dozen guests, who will come together for one-of-a-kind L.A. dining experience on a Saturday evening.

There’s no menu or hint of what to expect. Just two Evil Cooks, Elvia Huerta and Alex Garcia, love birds full of creativity and a passion for wild new ideas. This is the taqueros' version of an omakase experience, or as I'm naming it for them: "The Kamikaze."

Week after week, Evil Cooks conducts one of L.A.'s most successful home-based pop-up cooking experiences, as well as a pop-up at Smorgasburg every Sunday. On random months, Elvia and Alex also set-out to flex their aprons, break the routine, and simultaneously play with their food and our palates.

It’s an excuse to be creative, unshackle their culinary artistry, and serve dishes so splendid and eye-catching, that you may come to the conclusion that they've sold their soul down in Georgia.

It’s free-form jazz played by rock stars. You won't see any of their regular menu’s greatest hits of flan tacos and chorizo verde. The fleet of black trompos they’re famous for are stored away. Maybe if you’re lucky, you might get a taco. But it will be unlike any you’ve seen at this $99 pop-up experience.

"We do this, to be honest, not to become a madman but to get rid of all these ideas that we come up with," says Alex. "It’s an outlet to express ourselves as artists. We love our regular Evil Cooks menu, but after all these years, you need to keep creating and trying new flavors to be sane and express."

"This is a suicidal menu that people might love or hate, and we are willing to take the risk," he continues. "At the end of the day, we are just pirates breaking all the rules and creating our own way to serve food and to kill appetite. And to think that everything started with a $25 game of “all-you-can-eat tacos.”

On this particular May afternoon, guests are being treated to an extra special dinner. Elvia, who is celebrating a birthday the following day, joins us at the table with a tall can of Pacifico.

Alex is curating the whole meal, a seven-course journey dedicated to her and inspired by her favorite flavors. It is crazy romantic, having us all awe-ing until the first of many visually stunning dishes is served: a crescent moon of fried blue tortilla over a seashell, sitting on a bed of crushed red pepper seeds in the cusp of two stone hands. 

Grab a plastic stool and have a seat. We’re about to dive in kamikaze-style.

Tom yum aguachile. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. Taco

The night begins on a tom yum aguachile with fresh scallops and shrimp. The sweet, sour, and spicy reduction is addicting and an immediate palate-amplifier. It represents Elvia's love of Thai food and mariscos and immediately beomes the guests' favorite dish.

Green Chorizo roll with chicharrón prensado aioli. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. Taco

Next, inspired by Elvia's love of dim sum, Alex uses rice paper to create a green chorizo roll with chicharrón prensado aioli. At first glance, the roll's appearance and texture has guests assuming it is a type of sarma (stuffed grape leaves). It's not a far-off comparison, but it is a beautiful balance of textures.

Jocoque casero with cilantro and basil oil, fideo terrine, and queso panela a la plancha. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. Taco

According to Alex, the one food item Elvia and her family enjoy the most is jocoque, a type of Mexican Labneh similar to yogurt sour cream. He prepares a jocoque casero with cilantro and basil oil, fideo terrine, and queso panela a la plancha. It's a beautiful example of how these Evil Cooks can elevate something as humble as fideo, which is like a Mexican poor man's spaghetti, into a beautiful dish.

Home-made pizza croissant, parmigiano regiano, and a drizzle of cold pressed olive oil. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. Taco

Like the rest of humanity, Elvia loves croissants and pizza. So Alex asks himself, "Why not combine them both?" He takes the croissant recipe of his father, who was a baker in Mexico, and creates a home-made pizza croissant using parmigiano regiano and a drizzle of cold pressed olive oil. The slight funkiness of the cheese makes this an exceptional bite.

Costillas con nopales en Tlaxtihuile. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. Taco

As we move into the main proteins part of the night, Alex recounts the time he and Elvia first started seeing each other. He tells his guests, "Elvia tried to impress me with a similar dish. So I thought I'd try to recreate it my own way for her." We all notice that he says "try" and joke about it a bit while taking the spoon and easily pulling apart this braised short rib covered in a Nayarit-style mole.

Tomahawk with pipián chimichurri and black pepper sauce and sushi rice. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. Taco

Finishing our short rib, we turn to see about six whole tomahawk stakes coming off the grill. Elvia comments, "I love tomahawk so much." Alex slices these massive Flinstones-sized steaks to find the perfect piece to use, like sushi, on some sticky rice. It's served with black pepper sauce and a brilliant, wasabi-like green paste made of pipian chimichurri. Alex also brings the huge cutting board full of sliced tomahawk steaks to the table for us to gorge on.

Sope de cacao, cornflakes flan, and camote con leche (ice cream). Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. Taco

Of course, an Evil Cooks experience would not be complete without another brilliant dessert like the flan taco, which helped propel their infamy in the food world. But today, guests enjoy a sope made of chocolate smeared with corn-flake flan and topped with sweet yams and ice cream.

"One thing that we are trying is not to repeat dishes; to push our boundaries," Alex tells us. "And now we are trying to document everything after two years of doing it to have a record and see what are the favorites to use for the next Evil Cooks step."

These are just today's creations, an experience uniquely crafted with Elvia in the chef's heart. There's no way of knowing what the next "Kamikaze" dinner will hold. But that's part of the excitement.

Follow Evil Cooks on IG and look out for their next Kamikaze date and reserve your spot early.

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