Monday, November 22, 2004

Quality Seafood

Redondo Beach's Quality Seafood reminds me of the seaside fish markets along the coast of Long Island, where I grew up. Dad and I would visit nearby Freeport NY, and stop by the restaurants and fish markets of the mile-long wharf to see fish hauled freshly from the local waters. In today's world that fresh fish more likely flew across the world and got to the market on a truck, but that's progress for you.

Quality Seafood has anchored a waterfront corner of King Harbor since 1954. Quality sells all manner of seafood: freshly dead, alive, or ready to eat. One part of the building houses live tanks that hold all kinds of crabs and lobsters, including a local spiny lobster in season right now. More tanks hold dozens of oysters, clams, mussels, whelk, and live sea urchins, all of which will be gladly served as you like: on the half shell or steamed.

On this day, some of the folks from Chowhound gathered to sample the seafood, drink beer, and feed the panhandling gulls and pigeons. This is not a seafood restaurant, per se. It's a fish market next to a slightly shabby marina with poured concrete picnic tables outside. Don't go for the atmosphere. Go for the wide variety of live shellfish, cooked or shucked to order.

The clams and oysters are the best bet here. Live uni can be hit or miss: some will be amazingly sweet and delicious, others urchins will be slightly bitter or not flavorful. The crabs and lobsters are cheaper and just as delicious at the Cantonese seafood houses of the San Gabriel Valley and Little Saigon. However, Dommy! notes that local spiny lobsters aren't easy to find, and Quality Seafood has them. I tasted some of her lobster, and it's definitely a different animal than Maine lobsters.

I shot some video of the live uni still moving their spines while we ate the goods inside the shell. Video streaming is still beyond my technical ability - perhaps for the better in this case.

These live tanks hold the larger clams, whelks and sea urchins.

Quahogs, Golden littlenecks, and local conch.

The small white clams in the center were imported from Ireland. These were sweet, delicate and very tender when steamed. Definitely get some Irish clams!

The fresh fish counter runs the entire length of this part of the building. TomSwift had fresh whitebait fried to order. Must have been good, because they disappeared by the time I finished taking pictures.

Checking out the breaded and fried offerings from the fry bar.

Our oyster schucker, hard at work.

Quality Seafood offers a couple dozen varieties at any given time.

Various fish are also smoked on site. We got the black cod - very rich, very delicious when warmed in the nuke for a minute. By the time you read this, eels will be available smoked.

This is a garibaldi that lives in the presumably clean waters of King's Harbor. Garibaldis are California's highly protected state fish. If you so much as harm a scale on their knobby golden heads, the game warden is allowed to chop off your pinky yakuza style and ceremoniously feed it to the offended garibaldi in homage.
Gurlfren and I have spotted this little guy the past two times we've visited Quality Seafood, and have named him Orenthal J. Garibaldi. Say hello if you see him.

Quality Seafood
130 International Boardwalk
Redondo Beach, CA

It's imprecise to say it's at the base of the Redondo Beach Pier,because it's next to the Strand north of the pier. Do this: drive into the underground parking garage @ the pier. After you take your parking ticket, drive straight until you can't go further. There's a staircase at that end of the garage. Take it downstairs to the waterline, and QS is on your right.


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