2007-11-28 / Restaurant of the Week

La Sazon Del Mono Guayaco

45-07 47th Avenue • Sunnyside • 718.383.7214
By Teresa Barile

t ake a culinary journey to the coastal area of Guayaquil, Ecuador when you visit La Sazon Del Mono Guayaco. While the name of this cute, ethnic restaurant may be a mouthful, you will be assured many mouthfuls of delicious

fish, seafood, meat and more at this

comfortable restaurant in Sunnyside. The pleasant dining room has room for small and large parties and a large screen is often brought down to broadcast the latest soccer match or movie.

Owners Jessica Iniguez and Robert Eichenbaum opened La Sazon in September and have already amassed a following that comes for freshly prepared delicacies from the coastal part of Ecuador. I started with a fabulous ceviche, or seafood cocktail, that combines plump, tender shrimp with lime juice and cilantro for a cool start to any meal. The flavor is tropical and delicious, as is the crab ceviche with sweet crab meat. Soups play an important role in Ecuadorian cuisine and La Sazon's "caldo de bola" is a soul-warming soup with plantains stuffed with beef ($9). The seafood soup is rich with seafood and fish and will take the chill out of any cold night.

When it comes to the entrées, La Sazon specializes in fish and seafood, prepared with traditional recipes. Cazuela de camarones is a casserole of shrimp, served in a heavy metal pot called a cazuela. The accompanying rice is used as a bed for ladling on the tasty stew of shrimp in a mildly flavored sauce ($9). Fried red snapper is a house favorite and the fresh fish is served whole with its crispy skin. The accompanying salsa, flavored with cilantro gives it a kick and there are plenty of tostones, or fried plantains to munch on. One of my favorite dishes is arroz marinero, or seafood rice. This dish is replete with shrimp, mussels, clams and chunks of fish and reminded me of Spanish paella, but without the chorizo sausage. The portions at La Sazon are generous and often provide enough for dinner the next night. Another rice dish that I really enjoyed is called "chaulafan" and combines brown and wild rices with chunks of chicken, pork, shrimp and vegetables ($13). This hearty dish has delicious flavor and texture and is great for sharing.

If you prefer meat, La Sazon offers several tempting options. Entrana asada is grilled skirt steak, served with French fries and salad for just $14. Please specify how you would like your meat cooked as the skilled chef prepares it on the spot. Carne asada is a traditional grilled steak, served with fluffy white rice and beans or you can try the pepper steak with fries. A tasty fried pork chop served with rice and beans sounds great too. La Sazon has a mixed grill called "El Asado de Sunnyside" which includes grilled skirt steak, a grilled pork chop, chicken breast and sausage with salad and fried yucca for a meat eater's dream.

Enjoy a tropical juice or soda imported from Ecuador or a cup of delicious coffee with your dessert. Pretty pastries and cakes are brought in daily and include a jelly roll cake filled with sweet guava paste, a horn-shaped pastry filled with a delicate cream or a type of flan made with 3 kinds of milk ($3). The coffee was delicious and I enjoyed the Latin music playing on the sound system.

La Sazon Del Mono Guayaco is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner with lunch specials for just $5.99.They will deliver to your home or office or just

stop in after work, as they are conveniently located just one block from the 7 train's 46th St. station. For a trip to coastal Ecuador without leaving New York, visit La Sazon Del Mono Guayaco in Sunnyside.

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