fish

Sometimes I hate the beach. I’m sure most of you are gasping and ready to throw rocks at me. All that sand in your shoes — The seagulls in your face, flapping their wings. Flocks of pigeons all hovering over you, waiting to unload a big mess on you. Maybe it’s not the beach I hate so much, but just birds. Who am I kidding? I love the beach! The smell of the fresh sea and air blowing on your face — the sun warming you up, hugging you as you lay on the beach. It’s peaceful. One thing I like about being near the water is the seafood. On my way to The Aquarium of the Pacific, we made a pit stop for lunch at Berth 55 Fish Market. A great idea! Not only was it casual, the fish was fresh and there was plenty to choose from. The area was nice, right near the docks. We were surrounded by boats and water, and I felt relaxed. Eating outside in the warm sun, with a nice breeze was as pleasant as it can be. What was better was the amazing seafood the port had to offer.

The clam chowder was some of the best I had in a while. It wasn’t just cream flavor — I actually tasted the sea.  It was quite rich, meaning, it had a lot of cream. Not a bad thing I guess. The clams weren’t plenty, but they were large. The clams inside weren’t chewy — they were perfectly cooked. I really hate chewy clams inside clam chowder. I feel like I’m eating rubber bands or old band aids. The clams in this chowder was legit. I wouldn’t mind having a big bowl of this stuff every time I ordered clam chowder.

Naturally, being so close to the water, we had to order some fish. We ordered the red snapper with a shrimp skewer. Right away, I smelled the plate and I knew it was going to be delicious. The fish was flakey and perfectly cooked. It was great with the side of rice. The shrimp skewer was heavily seasoned and tasty. It was a bit over cooked for my liking, and too dry. I don’t know how that is possible, but it was. Thanks to the many sauces, the dish was saved. It was great eating fresh seafood in front of the Pacific Ocean. Seafood isn’t the same without the view of the water.

Berth 55 Fish Market in Long Beach has some of the best seafood around. Their display of all the seafood you can think of is fresh and is ready for you. The eating area is kind of plain and messy, but functional. It doesn’t matter really because you are eating right next to the water. It’s beautiful. It’s delicious.

Berth 55-Fish Market & Seafood on Urbanspoon

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Laguna Beach is one of my favorite beach cities. The vibe there is fun and exciting, and you get a sense of history there. One of my favorite spots to grab a bite is at Nick’s Laguna Beach. The decor, menu, and vibe is all very new school among this classic beach city. Centered around the bar, Nick’s is definitely not just a restaurant, but a gastropub located right on South Coast HWY. If you are here for just drinks late at night, or lunch during the sunny day, you are at the right place.

These can possibly be the best deviled eggs I ever had. I know it’s not saying much, but it’s something. The filling had bits of crunchy onion, and was seasoned perfectly. Nothing about the taste was off or imbalanced. It was delicious all around. Frying deviled eggs was a brilliant idea. Eggs in general are soft and the filling is mushy. Frying the eggs, only the egg whites gave it that crunch it needed. Mixed with the creamy filling, it was a nice contrast in textures and taste — a perfect appetizer.

The fried asparagus was not one of my favorites. Yes, it was nicely cooked and the vegetable was fresh as ever, but the spears in itself weren’t special. The batter was very greasy and left my fingers too oily. Without the help of their home made ranch dressing, these wouldn’t have had a second chance.

Their blackened halibut sandwich is one of my favorite fish sandwiches — Imagine the Filet-o-Fish, but replace every ingredient with the best there is. This sandwich included crunchy cabbage slaw, carrots, greens, tomatoes, and fried onion strings. The brioche bun seemed like it was freshly baked and the house made tartar sauce made all the difference. The halibut was perfectly seasoned and meaty. Their fries were addicting, especially dipping it in their home made ranch dipping sauce. Yeah, though could have gone the easy route and just bought the ranch, but they make it themselves. It was a bit on the salty side, which is probably why I liked it so much. The difference was night and day. The thought of hoping it could be a juicy burger didn’t cross my mind once. This was a perfect sandwich and fries combination.

Nick’s is one of my go to spots when I am in Laguna Beach. Being one of my personal favorite beaches in Orange County, I am glad the food is reflective of the area. Fresh and delicious food in a city known for having a beautiful beach scene is what I am all about. What is more perfect than having a nice meal walking distance from the beach in the best weather anyone can ask for. This is the good life.

Nick's Laguna Beach on Urbanspoon

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Lucques – Studded With Awards, Good Enough For Two

by Franklin on February 10, 2012

It was fate. I hate to admit — I almost skipped my reservation at Lucques. I waited there in the car, right next to the restaurant. Having reservations at 5 PM, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to eat that early. The sun was still out! After much contemplation, I parked, and I went inside. I sure was happy that I did. Chef Suzanne Goin knows her way around the kitchen, and the food is a testament of those skills. Owner of some of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles, guest judge of Bravo’s Top Chef, and named California’s best chef of 2006 by the James Beard Foundation, I would have been a fool to turn her restaurant down.

Once I walked in, the interior was interesting. Once inside, you are warped into a place away from the Los Angeles hustle bustle. Having virtually no direct windows facing Melrose, the restaurant is very detached from the city. The quaint fireplace and seating area, to the brick walls, the restaurant was very comforting. Enjoying our Dine LA menu was simple and delicious. They didn’t even give us a hard time about sharing the prix fixe menu.

We started off with some awesome appetizers. The bread and butter was amazing, but the best part was the almonds and olives. Glistening with a coat of olive oil, the green olives were salty, but not too salty. The almonds were buttery and quite possibly the best almonds I ever had. Eating the bread with some sea salt and butter was a treat. If the complimentary items were this good, the dishes must be amazing is what I though. I was right.

The endive and schaner citrus salad was interesting. The endive were fresh and crunchy. The flavors of the green olives and green harissa made things pop and the wedges of citrus fruits gave everything fresh acidic taste. This would be perfect after a rich and fatty meal.

For the main course, we went with something we would never try normally. The pancetta-wrapped market fish was in both of our minds. It was served with parsnips, hazelnuts, and balsamic brussels sprouts. The trout was cooked nicely, not overcooked at all. Though it had a few bones, it had a nice mellow flavor and texture. The hazelnuts gave the dish a nice textural crunch as it turned the dish’s flavor a bit more complex. Brussels sprouts seem to be making a come back in dishes, and these were perfect in the balsamic reduced sauce. The panchetta, though lost in this dish as itself served to pronounce the flavors of the sauce and fish.

The bittersweet chocolate torta with mascarpone, hazelnut caramel and coffee ice cream was a great dessert. The chocolate torta was sort of like a cakey fudge, but not as dense. The coffee ice cream was superb, and quite possibly the best coffee ice cream I ever had. I felt they made it from scratch, from brewed coffee and all. A lot of effort went into this dessert, and I appreciated it very much.

As I was waiting at the bar area, I noticed a book called Sunday Supper at Lucques. Interestingly enough. I was having supper at Lucques on a Sunday evening. After appreciating my good meal, almost not having it, I knew it was fate. I was meant to eat here. Chef Goin did a good job, as she does at A.O.C., Tavern, The Hungry Cat, and others. I even read she used to be the executive chef of Campanile. With such a track record of successful restaurants in Los Angeles, it is no wonder that I had a great time at Lucques. If it weren’t for this, I probably would have just driven off, not knowing what I had missed.

The 17th Annual SAG Awards tasting menu was held at Lucques. An old video, but pretty cool to have eaten there not too long ago. Random video, but I thought I would share it with all of you.

Lucques on Urbanspoon

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Fish is often the last thing people order at restaurants.  They usually order the beef or chicken, or even opt for something meatless like pasta.  Tap’s Fish House and Brewery specializes in seafood, and their fish is popular amongst the locals. Me and my girlfriend have been here for Sunday Brunch and Happy Hour, but never for dinner.  On a side note, their Sunday Brunch is one of the best I have ever had.  Dare I say, better than buffets in Vegas?  Anyways, the Happy Hour menu is great as well.  It is affordable and they offer tasty eats.  Besides all of the goodies, I will be writing about our dinner here.

Coming here was something special to me and my girlfriend.  The restaurant was very warm and comforting — it did this with a sense of class. The wait staff were not clueless of what was on the menu.  They were prepared to answer any of the diners’ needs and gave great recommendations.  Seafood is their specialty — I wouldn’t order their burgers, steaks, or chicken, though it would be interesting to see how good it is.  Possibly for a later date, but since seafood is their game, seafood is what we got.

For starters, we ordered the Mediterranean mussels and a bowl of clam chowder to share.  The clam chowder could have used more clams, but that may be my carnivorous side talking.  Despite the lack of protein, the chowder was very delicious and creamy — thick, just how I like it.  The best were the mussels.  They were simmered in a white wine, garlic butter, and herb broth. The mussels were so tender and soft — not an ounce of chewiness.  The broth itself was delicious too.  Dipping the bread in it was an tasty combination.

For our main course, we shared the grilled mahi mahi with shrimp risotto.  The fish was finished off in a sweet chili bar blanc — this was fancy talk for sweet sour sauce. With a side of asparagus spears and topped with a decorative flower,  the dish looked too good to eat and the picture displayed above is actually half of the full order.

The fish was so good — eating it with the bar blanc was even better.  The risotto was a bit overcooked for my liking, and bit under seasoned — grinding a little pepper did the trick.  Overall, this dish was delicious.  Next time, I will have to try their famous Miso Marinated Chilean Sea Bass. That has been served ever since the restaurant started and is the only thing constant on the menu.  For something so classic and with staying power, I think that will be a treat.

Tap’s Fish House never fails for any meal.  Dinner, lunch, brunch, happy hour?  This is the place to eat. They have locations in Brea and Anaheim — the one in Anaheim is called The Catch.  I would think the food is just as good at that establishment.  If I am feeling a little “spendy”, and have a hankering for some good seafood, Tap’s Fish House comes to mind.

Taps Fish House & Brewery on Urbanspoon

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Fish is my favorite food.  No wait…  I can’t do that to my beloved beef — the perfect marriage of fat and meat, cooked to a medium rare, with juices dripping everywhere.   But Sashimi is my favorite food, and that’s fish.  Hmm.  I am caught in a dilemma here.  I may retract this statement in a later post, but for the time being, fish wins it! There’s so many variations and tastes of fish, so many ways to cook it, and so healthy too.   At California Fish Grill, all they serve is fish.  They have the freshest fish delivered daily and is cooked(grilled) to order — none of that frozen mess.  This place is the real deal when it comes to fish.

I tried a variety of stuff on the menu.  My favorite is the Swai.  At first, I was a bit curious as to what the heck Swai was.  It turns out that it is a variation of a shark or catfish, or both? It is also California Fish Grill’s most popular item — they call it the “white ruffy”. Of all of their fish, The White Ruffy is my favorite!

My order came with a bed or brown rice, side of cole slaw, and the Swai fish Cajun style.  I saw the cook place my fish on the grill. It looked so good and tasty, I could not wait to eat it.  As I waited for my food, I went to the salsa bar.  There I grabbed some lemons and some tartar sauce.  I also get some garlic butter on the side.

The fish was so flavorful from the Cajun spices.  The texture of the Swai is similar to tuna and catfish, but the flavor is unparalleled.  At times I would dip it in the sauces, but it is perfect on its own. Eating it with the brown rice and cole slaw is such a good combination.  I usually dip the piece of French bread that they include into the garlic butter.  The perfect seafood meal.

Usually a meal including fish or seafood is pricey.  I guess that validates my point as why most people don’t order the fish — but at 8 bucks for a fabulous seafood meal, fish is back in the game. California Fish Grill also serve fried fish and shrimp, along with tacos and salads, but I’m a simple man.  I just like the fish as is. No batter, not chopped up or anything.  Just season the filet with the spices, grill it over flames, and I am happy.

California Fish Grill on Urbanspoon

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