I still have very fond memories of my very first time tasting mofongo. If you're a veteran follower, then you already knew that. Word is getting around that I have a weakness for this Puerto Rican specialty, and recommendations have occasionally come in for places where I can get it. This is how I ended up hearing about Isla Del Encanto, a Puerto Rican restaurant in West Kendall.
As is the norm with many hidden gems, it’s tucked away in a strip mall. In fact, it is 3 doors away from a Peruvian restaurant that I used to frequent when I worked down in that area. What are the odds? Inside, it looks about how you would expect from a family-owned restaurant that sells Latin food in Miami. There’s lots of kitschy artwork around, and an endless playlist of classic salsa music playing in the background.
The menu is pretty standard for a Puerto Rican joint, but I already knew what I was here for. Mofongo with creole shrimp, anyone?
One thing that Puerto Ricans do that Dominicans don’t is serve a side of consomme (broth) with their mofongo. This is great for dipping the mofongo, and can offset the dry and starchy quality of the plantain mash. However, if you want a REAL treat, order your mofongo with a side of protein that comes in a robust sauce. In this case, the shrimp with creole sauce (salsa criolla) adds a completely new dimension to the dish. I think that this place adds cilantro to their sauce. It has a little extra kick that is not present in the dish at other locations. The shrimp are always tender, not rubbery. My favorite thing to do is get a bite of mofongo and shrimp and dip it in the creole sauce.
The service is pretty consistent with what you can expect from a family-owned Latin restaurant in South Florida. The staff is friendly, and the owner can sometimes be seen walking around greeting tables and making sure the customers are being taken care of. But, you sometimes might get lost in the shuffle. Still, Isla del Encanto is now my go-to place for a good plate of mofongo.
For more information on Isla del Encanto, visit their web site at http://www.isladelencanto.biz/