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IN THE MOOD

Ceviche

July 15, 1999

In this weather, there's little that's more refreshing than a cold, tangy ceviche: fish and/or shellfish "cooked" in a citrus marinade.

* Alegria: This lively cucina Latina place has a long bar where you can drink, make friends and eat tapas, including a ceviche de pescado prepared Ecuadoran fashion with fresh seasonal fish, finely chopped, marinated in a citrus sauce and lightly flavored with oregano. (Ceviche, $6.50.) Alegria Cocina Latina, 115 Pine Ave., Long Beach, (562) 436-3388.

* Border Grill: The ceviche selections change daily here. Recently there's been a rock shrimp ceviche with lime juice, cilantro, red onion and serrano chile, and a red snapper ceviche with all the same ingredients plus tomatoes. (Ceviche, $8.25-$8.50.) Border Grill, 1445 4th St., Santa Monica, (310) 451-1655.

* Senor Fish: In the summer, every meal at these popular Mexican seafood cafes should start with a ceviche tostada or two: juicy, snow-white, citrus-marinated fish with flecks of tomato and cilantro on a small, crisp tostada shell. (Ceviche tostada, $1.50.) Senor Fish, 422 E. 1st St., (213) 625-0566; 4803 Eagle Rock Blvd., (323) 257-7167; 618 Mission St., South Pasadena, (626) 403-0145.

* Cha Cha Cha Encino: The refreshing ceviche cocktail here is made with fresh baby scallops, sea bass and snapper marinated overnight in citrus juices with serrano peppers, cilantro, red peppers, onions and tomatoes . . . and, uniquely, mango and papaya, plus a sprinkling of the house's Caribbean spices, a blend of 29 different spices. (Ceviche, $7.) Cha Cha Cha Encino, 17499 Ventura Blvd., Encino, (818) 789-3600.

* Xiomara: At this Pasadena Nuevo Latino restaurant, a memorable, particularly pretty ceviche has plump, sweet shrimp and scallops steeped in a refreshing and flavorful three-citrus marinade, with onions and tomatoes, cilantro and avocado. (Ceviche, $9.) Xiomara, 69 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, (626) 796-2520.

* El Pollo Inka: The specialty of this Peruvian restaurant chain is pollo a la brasa, but why not start with a ceviche appetizer? There's ceviche de pescado, fresh fish marinated in lime juice and served with lettuce, yams and corn on the cob. Ceviche mixto is the same but with clams, shrimp, squid and octopus. (Ceviches, $7.50.) El Pollo Inka, 11701 Wilshire Blvd., No. 11, Los Angeles, and six other locations.

* Ubon: Nobu Matsuhisa's new noodle cafe has a mixed seafood ceviche made with salmon, scallops, shrimp, cucumbers and fresh organic tomato, marinated in lemon juice and a South American yellow chile sauce that's tasty but not too spicy. (Ceviche, $12.) Ubon, 8530 Beverly Blvd., No. 151, Los Angeles, (310) 854-1115.

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