Bidding farewell to the previous yr marks not simply the begin of a brand new yr but in addition our annual nationwide New Yr’s Decision Pledge to get in form (in the end), and lose the kilos we have been going to a years in the past. However then, Ben & Jerry’s got here out with all these nice new flavors, a model new pizza place opened with some actually terrific pies and…nicely, you understand how it’s. The Battle of the Bulge was misplaced, earlier than it even started.
Now, as a man who eats for a dwelling (and who lives to eat!), my battle towards middle-age unfold is a every day problem. I imply, actually, who can resist an enormous bacon-chili-cheeseburger, with onion rings, when it sits earlier than you, crying out, “Eat me! Eat me!”
In my life, I’ve been actually skinny (okay, I used to be 12 years previous at the time), and actually, let’s say, giant.
I do know the questionable joys of weight problems, and the agony of getting to purchase new pants as a result of nothing matches anymore. I additionally know what it’s like to have your basic practitioner level out that your blood numbers are heading for out-of-control territory. And with two mother and father who have been diabetic, that’s not a superb place to go.
And so, I couple of years in the past, as my blood A1C degree started to attain the hazard level, I made a decision it was time to go on a weight-reduction plan — whereas persevering with to be a functioning meals critic. It’s undoubtedly not straightforward.
I opted for a life-style change. My weight loss plan, each time attainable, would include lean protein and greens. Deep-fried meals, which I do love a lot, can be stored to a minimal. Relatively than inhaling orders of french fries and onion rings, of fish ’n’ chips and Buffalo hen wings, I’d style. I’d decelerate. And I’d set myself small objectives, straightforward objectives.
I’d pledge that I needed to drop a pound, no extra. And once I’d attain that aim, I’d drop one other pound. And slowly, like turning an ocean liner round with a minimal rudder referred to as a trim tab, I started to shed extra pounds. My pants turned looser. I had to truly exit, and purchase new pants. I wanted new belts. I used to be swimming in my sports activities jackets. My weight reduction accelerated. And I found that by minimizing the quantities of salt and sugar in my weight loss plan, I might attain my objectives. And keep at my objectives.
I additionally realized that one among the nice secrets and techniques of weight-reduction plan was to segue to a seafood weight loss plan every time attainable. (I used to joke I used to be on the “Seefood Diet.” If I’d see meals, I’d eat it.) Sushi was apparent. Chinese language seafood wasn’t it — numerous deep-frying, a lot of sodium, numerous oil. However ultimately, I reached my aim. I even surpassed it.
I received to some extent the place individuals have been asking if I used to be okay — I had dropped a lot weight, that I used to be wanting virtually sickly to those that hadn’t seen me in awhile. I took that as a praise.
And so, with some dietary consciousness, I’ve managed to stay a totally useful restaurant critic — whereas protecting my weight underneath management. And once I get down to it, I do really feel I’ve received our previous buddies fish, fruit and greens to thank.
Since we’re blessed to have so many nice seafood eating places right here in Southern California, let me share a few of my favourite decisions in the area. Oh, and one different trick: End nothing! Divide your portion in half, and acknowledge you’re taking a look at lunch for the subsequent day. Which is an effective factor: In the mild of day, away from the tumult and to-do of the restaurant, it’s straightforward to see what’s proper, and what’s mistaken.
I intend to maintain my weight beneath management for the remainder of my life. Now, if solely I might study to play the piano simply as simply, I’d have all of it.
The Boiling Crab
140 Palm Ave., Burbank; 747-201-3346; www.theboilingcrab.com
In case you’ve by no means been to The Boiling Crab — or, to be extra exact, by no means “experienced” The Boiling Crab, for it’s extra an “experience” than anything — that is an train in culinary chaos.
The menu is definitely fairly easy. You will have a selection of seafood — shrimp, clams, oysters, mussels, king crab legs and snow crab legs are all the time obtainable; blue crab, Dungeness crab, lobster and crawfish can be found in season. You select a taste — Rajun Cajun, lemon pepper, garlic or a combo referred to as The Entire Sha-Bang. You select a warmth degree — non, delicate, med or XXX. You set in your plastic bibs — and prepare.
The desk is roofed with paper. The utensils are plastic shell slicers — and your fingers. (The motto right here is, “Eat with Your Hands.”) The meals arrives in a plastic bag inside a galvanized buckets. It’s dumped on the desk — and also you’re off to the races. You actually need to put on clothes about which you don’t care; one thing disposable can be a good suggestion, for the sauce leaves stains that don’t wash out.
EMC Seafood & Uncooked Bar
Westfield Topanga, 6252 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills; 818-704-1899; www.emcseafood.com
EMC Seafood & Uncooked Bar is a comparatively high-end seafood restaurant, with (in the case of the Westfield department) a positive view of the crowds ready for Hainan hen rice at the wildly fashionable Aspect Chick meals stand simply throughout the method.
As are all the eating places in the Westfield Santa Anita Meals Alley, it sits utterly open air — an outside café that’s truly indoors, full with a full bar, for many who, after an excessive amount of purchasing, find themselves in want of a Cucumber Glowing Martini or a Lychee Margarita.
Dishes right here vary from easy — fried fish tenders, garlic noodles, shrimp cocktail, seaweed and cucumber salads — to impressively refined. As in the case of the monkfish liver with garlic flavored ponzu sauce, the toto tuna tartare with quail eggs, or the Hokkaido scallop carpaccio with smoked salt.
There are some good sushi rolls — attempt the Toro Toro Roll or the Mushy Shell Crab Roll. (I’m unsure what to say about the Foie Gras Roll with eel sauce, which appears a wierd factor to do with foie gras. Certainly, the presence on the menu of grilled foie gras appears a bit odd. However then, I assume it’s there for somebody.)
For me, there are entire shrimp executed steamed or crispy, a high quality sashimi salad, a eminently admirable clam chowder, together with a high-quality seafood stew, and a lobster roll that’s much more elegant than the type served alongside the Maine coast, the place tarragon butter and a brioche bun just isn’t the means they do it — attempt mayo and a scorching canine bun as an alternative.
And sure, you’ll be able to come right here in the midst of buying. Or come right here as an alternative of buying. It’s value it, it’s value the journey, it’s value parking method outdoors in the lot, and trudging on in. For the Westfield Topanga department, no less than, it’s a brand new day in the world of shopping center eating. Frankly, I don’t miss Panda Categorical in any respect.
5577 Reseda Blvd., Tarzana; 818-975-8083; www.fishboneseafood.com
The method at Fishbone Seafood is straightforward. You research the overhead menu, which provides a lot of choices, so long as you’re down with seafood. (The one non-seafood dishes are the aspect dishes — coleslaw, potato salad, grilled veggies, mac salad, collard greens, purple beans & rice, inexperienced salad, hush puppies, French fries and garlic rolls. (I assume anti-fish people can cobble collectively a meal. However seafood is a lot extra enjoyable.)
The choice is appreciable, with 15 primary seafood choices, starting from purple snapper and filet of sole, to buffalo fish (also called roundhead, however principally as buffalo), whiting, orange roughy and tilapia.
Since this can be a “Southern-style” fish home, there’s catfish, accomplished 3 ways — catfish filets, catfish steaks and Cajun catfish. However there’s additionally salmon, and trout and sand dabs — what’s Southern is Southern, and what isn’t…isn’t.
Assuming you possibly can’t make up your thoughts, there are a number of combo meals — fish and shrimp, fish and oysters, and…fish, shrimp and oysters.
You possibly can select the lunch parts, with one aspect, or the dinner parts with two sides. And there’s a vitally essential selection to be made — deep-fried or grilled — the latter being notably more healthy than the former. However then, in the world of Southern cooking, deep-frying guidelines.
You place your order at the counter — and watch the guys in the kitchen get down to it, tossing your seafood in pans, in fryers, on grills — nevertheless it’s to be cooked.
Drinks are self-service, from a soda machine. Utensils are self-service too. You select a desk — and shortly after you plop down, the meals arrives. If nothing else, they’re environment friendly.
King’s Fish Home
Commons at Calabasas, 4798 Commons Approach, Calabasas; 818-225-1979; www.kingsfishhouse.com
I grew up in a world of flounder and bluefish and mackerel — seafood cooked until it had the texture and style of moist wool. King’s Fish Home is so removed from that it’s virtually unimaginable to consider I’m consuming the similar aquatic species.The menu, which is printed every day in order that what’s recent is what there’s, is heavy with seafood dishes each critical and kooky — this ain’t your granddad’s fish home. Or at the least, not my granddad’s.
Think about the oyster choice — 4 from the west, six from the east. There are acquainted names like Hama Hama and Kumamoto. However there’s additionally Paradise and Pacific Kiss, each from British Columbia; and Barcat and Rappahannock from Virginia.
When an ingredient is from the wild, the menu tells us that, as in the wild Littleneck Clams from Lengthy Island. Once they’re farmed, we’re informed that as nicely, as in the jumbo white shrimp and Penn Cove black mussels.
When you really feel like going with the classics, there’s a Louie, topped with jumbo shrimp, lump crab, or each. There’s macadamia crusted Alaskan halibut, and parmesan crusted Alaskan sand dabs. There’s fish ’n’ chips, Idaho rainbow trout amandine (from Clear Springs Farm in Magic Valley, and fried Mississippi catfish (from Simmons Catfish Farm in Yazoo Metropolis).
There are a number of surf ’n’ turf choices of beef with South African lobster tail. There’s even a New England clam bake with lobster, clams, mussels and purple spuds. However regardless that there’s a lot on the menu to fulfill Aunt Matilda, there’s additionally lots for many who don’t need to roll with the standard standard.
Think about the baked Penn Cove mussels. Sounds sort of mundane. However…the mussels are topped with spiced mayo, eel sauce, mushrooms and avocado. In different phrases, it’s a mussel equal of the outré sushi bar dish referred to as Dynamite. It sounds wack — it tastes superb.
Ditto the blackened shrimp taquitos, a kind of Mexican-Cajun combo topped with crumbly cotija cheese and guac. There’s a ceviche that mixes salmon, mahi, swordfish and albacore in a citrus and tomato sauce that cooks the fish in its acid — it’s uncooked and cooked at the similar time, all the time a very good trick.
Tel Aviv Fish Grill
19014 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana; 818-774-9400
Tel Aviv Fish Grill sits in the area that used to be residence to the Tel Aviv Grill, which has moved to Studio Metropolis. It went from being an excellent Chipotle fashion model of a Center Japanese quick informal eatery, to one in every of the best seafood eating places in the Valley, a terrific notion, that draws numerous sizable teams to eat each inside and, on a handful of tables, outdoors.
As quickly as you sit down, meals begins arriving — a diffusion of Israeli dips and salads, hummus and pita, sufficient to be a meal in and of themselves. However actually, they’re simply the aspect occasion.
The large deal is the fish, a selection of seafood eaten from the shores off Tel Aviv — branzino, sea bream, mullet, grouper, sea bass and barbounia (pink mullet). There’s tilapia and salmon as nicely — the final of which earned me a little bit of criticism from an adjoining desk, questioning why I used to be ordering a fish not discovered in the Mediterranean; “The salmon is on the menu for tourists,” they knowledgeable me. Oh, nicely — it was completely cooked, as are all the fish dishes.
There’s a white fish schnitzel as nicely. And, simply in case the many small dishes aren’t sufficient, you’ve got a selection of grilled veggies, fries, rice or Israeli chopped salad on the aspect.
There’s breakfast as nicely, served all day. The shakshuka is fantastic — nevertheless it includes no fish in any respect.
Merrill Shindler is a Los Angeles-based freelance eating critic. Ship him an e mail at [email protected]