Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Langostino Lobster @ Rubio's

Yes, I've got a thing for Rubio's.  Yes, it is out of character, as it is cheap, casual, Mexican food.  But not entirely out of character, as what I love is the sauces and the seafood.

Anyway, around this time of year every year, they have a limited time special: the Langostino Lobster taco (or burrito).  Since only discovered Rubio's a few months ago, I hadn't ever experienced it before, but had heard about it.  So when it came back on the menu, I had to try it out.

The first thing I noticed was the branding.  Everywhere it clearly said "Langostino Lobster".  I just figured it was a special type of lobster, but looked it up online to be sure.  Turns out ... not lobster at all.  They are tiny little crustaceans more closely related to hermit crabs.  And, Rubio's had a class action lawsuit filed against them a few years ago for marketing them as "lobster", hence, the excessive labeling now.

I didn't really care if it was real lobster or not, as I actually don't love lobster.  I greatly prefer local crab.  Or even shrimp or prawns if well prepared.  But ... it wasn't that great.

Since I've reviewed Rubio's so many times before, I'm skipping all the details on the establishment, and just reviewing this single dish.
Langostino Lobster Taco, Chips, "No Fried" Pinto Beans.  $4.29.
The langostino lobster taco is described as "Tender Langostino Lobster served with handmade guacamole, creamy chipotle sauce, salsa fresca, red and green cabbage, and a cilantro/onion mix.  Served on a warm stone-ground corn torilla and garnished with a slice of lime."

Of course, since I am allergic to avocado, I had to leave a major component out: the guacamole   When I asked to have it left out, the woman taking my order asked what I'd like instead.  She suggested cheese or sour cream.  I didn't really want to add cheese to my lobster (seafood and cheese don't seem to be a great pairing most of the time), and since there was already the creamy chipotle sauce I didn't want to add the sour cream.  So I said that it was fine to just leave it out and not substitute anything.  She then suggested rice.  I said sure.  In retrospect  this was not a good idea, since I don't really like rice, but I was caught off guard and just went along with it.  When she brought me my order, she also added on a side of the beans and chips, since they felt bad that I didn't have the guacamole, which is normally an expensive component (apparently, you can always add rice in for free).

Anyway.  The tortilla was the same corn tortilla shell I've had on previous visits, but this time, it was much crispier.  It had the same great corn flavor, and at first I didn't like the crispness as I thought it was stale, but it grew on me, and I ended up liking this crunchier version.  Not really sure why it was so different this time, normally it is soft and moist, seemingly steamed rather than grilled.  I enjoyed the tortilla, and used the extra pieces to dunk into salsa.

The "lobster" came in little pieces.  They were tender, well cooked, with a slightly grilled flavor. One or two of them seemed a little fishy.  Of all of the proteins I've tried at Rubio's, this was the least remarkable.  I greatly preferred the shrimp, the talapia, the mahi, even the fried pollock.  I think part of the problem was that the lobster was lost in all of the rice.  The rice was moist, flavorful, but there was a lot of it, and it doesn't normally belong in a taco.  It turned it more into a burrito.  But even without the rice, the lobster just wasn't anything special.

The creamy chipotle sauce, like every other time I've tried it, was amazing.  Creamy, with a nice kick.  It again made the entire thing delicious.  The salsa fresca was not as good as in past visits, the tomato cubes seemed less ripe, less flavorful.  This makes sense, as it is no longer tomato season.  The cabbages, cilantro, and onion filled out the taco, were fresh and crisp, but not remarkable.  I've been spoiled from trying some of their other tacos that have the serrano slaw instead, which is far more flavorful.

It was garnished with a juicy lime, which added a nice acidity and citrus note.  Additional limes were available in the condiments bar.  This time, I also tried some of the pickled carrots from the bar.  They were crunchy and insanely spicy.  I'd definitely add these in again.

This is their most expensive taco, at $4.29.  I'm assuming this is due to the guacamole and the lobster.  It didn't really seem worth that, but again, I didn't have the guac.  It was my least favorite of all of the tacos I've tried so far, and I wouldn't get it again.

As I mentioned, I also received a side of beans.  Not something I'd normally order, and I'd tried them on my first visit and wasn't all that impressed, but I tried them again.  Described as "made fresh daily from scratch, seasoned with a dash of garlic and black pepper, and topped with cotija cheese."  They were creamy, mostly mushy beans, with a few whole beans remaining.  There just wasn't much flavor to them, I didn't taste garlic at all.  Like before, I liked the cheese on top.

I also received some chips.  I hadn't yet tried these out, and I was excited to, mostly because I really like their chipotle salsa, and wanted something to dip into it.  The chips are also prepared fresh daily.  They were a thin style, slightly salty, not really remarkable.  Better than store bought chips, but not as good as  TropisueƱo.
Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon


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