Situated along the beach strip in Tulum, on the jungle side, right next to famously hyped Hartwood, you find restaurant Mur Mur. A modern Mexican restaurant by chef Diego Hernandez Baquedano. Depending on how familiar you are with the Mexican dining scene, you may know him as the executive chef of restaurant Corazón de Tierra in Valle de Guadalupe – currently no. 39 of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants. Additionally, chef Hernandez runs the brand new restaurant Verlaine in Los Angeles. Coincidentally, we were in the city of angels on opening week, but, unfortunately, we weren’t able to squeeze another eatery into an already packed schedule. However, we did pay Mur Mur a visit during our Tulum vacation. Luckily for us, Diego himself was present to cook this day, for a special event called Bocanegra & friends, and he had even invited his friend Eduardo Morali from restaurant Eloise in Mexico City (CDMX) as guest chef.
Tortillas Grilled on an Open Fire
A Mexican woman was busy baking tortillas in the outdoor kitchen when we arrived. She took a piece of masa dough, placed it between two sheets of plastic, and pressed it flat with a tortilla press. Over an open fire, she proceeded to grill the tortillas on a hot cast iron skillet. Using one hand to move the burning wood around, adjusting the heat, and the other to carefully flip each tortilla. Once the flat bread started to puff up in the middle, she removed it from the grill. While I watched the chef work, Hedda browsed the hippie shopping complex in which Mur Mur is located. After a while, we found our seats and ordered drinks. There are only two sorts of beverages you truly crave in the warm and humid air of Tulum: refreshing cocktails and ice cold beers.
Modern Mexican Cuisine
Diego Hernandez was born and raised in the Mexican Baja peninsula. His cooking style is influenced by that area, but also from being trained in some of Mexico’s greatest kitchens. Combine that with Baquedano’s philosophy of organic, local, and sustainable produce, and you have a really exciting modern Mexican cuisine. The result is an international twist to traditional Mexican dishes. One highlight of our dinner was a lovely octopus aquachile – a type of Mexican ceviche from the North-West. Tender octopus, acidic and spicy, with almonds and peanuts for crunch and texture. Another was the squash taco, in the tortillas I had watched being made, paired with a pilsner from the Mexican beer brand Cerveza Bocanegra (which hosted the event). Our favorite serving, however, was the creamy rice with escamoles and hazelnuts. Our first taste of the Mexican ant eggs (!) and they were delicious! Now, we were all set to experience Noma Mexico in a few days.
Diego’s Thoughts on Noma Mexico
In fact, the restaurant manager told us that he and Diego had eaten at Noma Mexico the night before. This is what Diego remarked about the dinner on Instagram, and I think his words says a lot about his personality: “There are honorable ways to show respect for food and the work of people in everything that we do. Sensitive ways that trespass cultural borders. It’s clear to me that no matter the result or the profile, Rene and his team understand this and show respect for their roots and ours. […] Noma in Tulum is Mexican food, looked through the glass of a Scandinavian chef who has the utmost respect for Mexico. When this concept is well understood and properly executed is what makes an experience unique.”
Have you been to any of Diego’s restaurants? Let me know what you think in the comments below.