Dinner at Zandunga in Oaxaca

For our dinner, we headed to Zandunga, a restaurant embodying the festive spirit its name suggests.

The evening was a delightful exploration of Oaxacan flavors, beautifully presented in each dish.

We began with a Tlayuda topped with chorizo. This traditional Oaxacan dish, often referred to as Mexican pizza, was a perfect blend of crispy, smoky, and spicy flavors.

The star of the evening was undoubtedly the Mole Negro con Pollo. The mole’s complexity, with its deep, rich, and subtly sweet flavors, beautifully complemented the tender chicken, showcasing the culinary artistry of Oaxacan cuisine.

It’s hard to explain mole.

  1. Richness and Depth: Mole Negro has a profound depth of flavor due to the variety of ingredients, especially the multiple types of dried chilies and chocolate. These ingredients contribute to its rich, full-bodied taste.
  2. Slightly Sweet and Smoky: The use of chocolate, raisins, and plantains adds a subtle sweetness, while the roasted chilies and spices provide a smoky undertone.
  3. Spicy but Balanced: While it has a spicy kick from the chilies, the heat is generally well-balanced and not overpowering. The various spices, fruits, and nuts create a harmonious blend that tempers the spiciness.
  4. Savory and Earthy: Ingredients like garlic, onions, and herbs, along with the umami from the nuts and seeds, contribute to the mole’s savory and earthy notes.
  5. Complexity: What makes Mole Negro stand out is its complexity. Every ingredient adds a layer of flavor, and as they simmer together, they meld into a sauce that offers a different taste in every bite. It’s a true gastronomic experience that evolves on the palate.
  6. Velvety Texture: The consistency of Mole Negro is typically smooth and velvety, adding to the richness of the dish.

A mole is a combination of the above in a well-balanced way.

The cheesecake topped with passion fruit is our dessert which we could probably do without if I’m honest.

Each dish was a testament to the Oaxacan region’s rich culinary heritage. We’ll be definitely trying more mole.