Rico’s Mar Azul, a splashy blue truck stationed in an idyllic park off Figueroa, specializes in Mexico City-style seafood preparations. The concise menu lists tostadas, cocteles, and that’s it. The tostada de pulpo, a raft of tender octopus and avocado slathered in a creamy white sauce reminiscent of Greek tzatziki, is my favorite bite of all.
Archive for the 'Seafood' Category
The Astronomer, my mom, and I each had a defined and important role to play prior to taking off on our two-and-a-half week European adventure. The Astronomer was in charge of all manner of logistics. From trains to planes to automobiles, not to mention lodging and scheduling, he made sure that everything was in place for a smooth and stress-free trip. My mother was in charge of language acquisition. As a former student of the French language in Vietnam, she was responsible for learning vocabulary and phrases to help us navigate the country.
I, of course, was charged with the all-important task of making sure that we not only ate well, but weren’t feeling completely overwhelmed by trip’s end. I took my responsibility as the conductor of our culinary tour seriously and orchestrated lunches and dinners that were complementary and calorically responsible. For instance, our indulgent five-course lunch at L’Astrance was followed by a light and simple dinner of oysters, wine, and good bread at Huîtrerie Régis. It was just what we (and our bodies) were in the mood for.
Huîtrerie Régis is a tiny, 20-seat oyster bar in the 6th arrondissement with a devoted expatriate and local clientele. After spending the afternoon battling crowds and admiring art in the sweltering Louvre, we were more than ready for a simple feast of oysters on the half shell. Ah, natural air conditioning.
Even though we were trying to keep dinner as uncomplicated as possible, I had to try the terrine de coquille Saint Jacques (€9). The scallop terrine with chives, carrots, and black pepper had a snappy way about it that reminded me of Vietnamese cha lua (steamed pork loaf). It was well-balanced enough to be eaten straight up, but tasted even better with a little bread and butter.
The Astronomer and I couldn’t escape the smell of grilled seafood the morning after our banquet at Koreatown’s Jae Bu Do. The distinct nose of burning embers, meshed with a hint of gochujang, seemed to follow us around the apartment, even though we had both showered and tossed last night’s clothes in the wash.
After searching every corner for the culprit, we finally discovered that the smell was emanating from my cell phone. The evening’s flavors had soaked into its plastic screen, so every time I sent a text or made a call for the next couple of days, the delicious memories from Jae Bu Do came wafting back. It was glorious and maybe even a little gross.
Jae Bu Do has been on my friend Ben‘s list of restaurants to try ever since Jonathan Gold wrote about its slimy hagfish back in 2010. While the awful-sounding fish is no longer on the menu, Jae Bu Do continues to grill up a plethora of fabulously fresh fruits of the sea tableside.
The wait for a table was nearly 40 minutes when our party of three arrived at 7 PM on a Friday night. With plenty of time to weigh and debate the three menu options at hand, we were ready to order as soon as a table opened up. We chose option B ($74.99), which included all sorts of good stuff like oysters, shrimp, and “ork” shell, and was ideal for groups of three to four according to our waiter.
After wrapping up our seaside feast at Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster, we bid farewell to South Freeport and hit the road. On the drive back to Boston, we stopped in Ipswich for a snack at the Clam Box. Located just thirty miles north of the city, this roadside restaurant is famous for its expertly fried seafood, especially locally harvested clams that are fried to order—bellies, necks, and all.
Marina “Chickie” Aggelakis has owned and operated the Clam Box with her son Dmitri for over 25 years. What sets this seafood shack apart from others in the region is her firm commitment to clean oil and fresh clams.
Every afternoon between lunch and dinner, Chickie closes the restaurant to change the oil, ensuring that every batch tastes perfect. Additionally, she only uses clams from Ipswich and Maine; frozen bivalves from distant oceans need not apply. It’s the little things that keep customers coming back each season and the line snaking out the door.
Since we were here only for a pre-dinner nibble, our party of five shared a cup of clam chowder ($4.95) and a serving of “native clams” ($16.25). The Astronomer’s brother ordered a basket of bellies just for himself. Smart boy.
It’s been a dream of mine for quite a while now to eat a lobster roll on the idyllic shores of Maine. Lobster rolls are a treat just about anywhere, even in downtown Los Angeles, but having one made by cooks who’ve been doing it for decades using freshly caught lobsters seemed like it would be even more perfect. A gentle New England breeze wouldn’t hurt either.
I always knew this scenario would play out at some point in time, most likely on an epic cross-country road trip, but it happened sooner than expected when The Astronomer’s parents planned a day trip to Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster on our Memorial Day trip back east. Mama and Papa Chaplin used to visit this seafood shack during their days living in Boston and were excited to introduce the brood to their special spot. I could not have been more thrilled.
After a two hour long drive from Boston, we arrived on the shores of South Freeport, Maine—also known as “So. Free. Me.” to the local set. The weatherman had predicted gray skies and a light drizzle on the day of our visit, but fortunately we were greeted with warm, sunny rays when we arrived.
Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster, which is open for lunch and dinner from May to October, has been owned and operated by the Coffin family since 1970. With fishing boats docked along the shore and pine trees lining the bay, the scene was even more picturesque than I had imagined.
Even though I knew exactly what I was going to order, I skimmed the larger-than-expected menu just for kicks. In addition to a bevy of fruits of the sea, Harraseeket serves things like chicken fingers, grilled cheese sandwiches, and burgers for “landlubbers.”