Each time I come to "my castle" the more it impresses. Their vast menu has so many choices that the first approach might seem difficult, but rest assured care is taken in each and every dish and you are bound to be satisfied with the final decision. I tend to come here on weekday lunches, when there are a few tables open and plates are prepared quickly. On a Sunday, good luck, as patrons stream out of nearby St. Michael's in their nice clothes and come to order massive plates of Ecuadorian food. For the prices, these meals really can't be equaled.
Typically, the cuisine of Ecuador is divided into mountainous and coastal areas. As you can imagine, the mountain people in colder climates enjoy all types of hearty meats, while seafood is popular near the ocean. Most restaurants in New York City will have some combination of both types, and this Sunset Park favorite is no different.
One of my favorite dishes is hornado con mote ($11, below), more of a street dish in higher elevations, found in markets. Whole pigs are roasted and the tender slices with charred skin are served fairly simply. Hornado should always come with mote, hominy that has been peeled and boiled, and llapingacho, a thick potato pancake.
The bistec ecuatoriano ($13, below) is thinly sliced grilled steak with plenty of onions, peppers, and sauce. The plate of beef, rice, and fries are covered with two eggs cooked over easy. When visits come before noon, this is a dish to crave.
Chaufa is most commonly thought of as Peruvian, but it is just as popular in neighboring Ecuador, where it is called chaulafan ($12.50, below). At Mi Castillo, the mix has beef, chicken, shrimp, and vegetables and is topped with a sweet plantain and avocado. A homemade spicy green salsa (aji) will be brought to the table during any meal, but this plate probably is the best match for it.
The coastal foods are no better represented than with the pescado frito ($14, below), a dish I notice many other patrons ordering. Like hornado, the fish is served simply and the seasoning allows the freshness and taste to do the work. Fried plantains stand with the fish, but sprinkle a bit of salt on these and enjoy.
One of our favorite orders is seco de chivo ($11, below), a goat stew that is much less blurry in person. The pieces of meat are still on the bone and very tender, while plenty of gravy is spread out for each bite. As evident in the photo, this is much more seasoned than the other meats, but not in a bad way.
As with Caribbean countries that have had African cultural influences for centuries that carry on today, Ecuador makes a cow foot soup just as well. Sope de pata ($8, below) comes with large hunks of bone and fat that do not provide much to eat, but the marrow has already dripped out during cooking, making for a wonderful broth. The soup also contains mote and chickpeas, and comes with a side of rice.
Along with these dishes and a long list of others, the menu seems to highlight churrascos and parrillada for those in the mood for a humongous plate of grilled meats. Ceviches are also available, as well as wine and beer. There is truly something for everyone.
Please note that there is also a "Castillo Ecuatoriano" restaurant with two branches in Brooklyn. This is unaffiliated.