Sunday, March 21, 2010

Louisiana Best Seafood

C. Thi Nguyen, a food loving UCLA grad student (in philosophy no less) has, over the past few years, been showing himself to be one of the finest food writers in LA. He started as a frequent poster on Chowhound but is now an occasional contributor to the LA Times' The Find column, which reviews downscale joints and hidden gems. In the city of Jonathan Gold, it's hard to break out as a food writer, but Nguyen has both a knack for new finds and for describing them in a way that makes you want to drop everything and speed out to whichever restaurant he's reviewing. I open the Times food section every Thursday hoping to find one of his reviews.

One of the places I learned of through a Nguyen review last year was Louisiana Best Seafood in Long Beach. Louisiana Best is the real thing, similar to the take-out shacks that dot the landscape in Southern Louisiana.

Louisiana Best makes some of the best fried shrimp and oysters in town. The shrimp are far better than most southern style shrimp in that they manage to keep their moist, buttery flesh beneath the cornmeal batter. The oysters properly burst open with juice when you take a bite, and benefit for a dip in some Louisiana hot sauce. Those oysters would make for an excellent po-boy, but you'll have to make it yourself because the menu at Louisiana Best is pretty much limited to fried fish.

Along with shrimp and oysters, they have a list of fish of which I have so far tried two: the catfish and red snapper. The catfish was excellent; the firm, perfectly fried pieces had an addictive quality to them. It was tough to stop eating. I also really enjoyed their homemade tartar sauce, which is far less mayo-heavy than most. I did not care for the red snapper which was dry and fishy tasting. Nguyen loved the sand dabs, but I haven't gotten around to them yet.

Louisiana Best is pretty much a take-out only establishment, but be forewarned that transporting the goods can leave an odor that will haunt your car for weeks. After my first drive home with a family bucket of fried fish, I tried sprays, leaving the windows open and other tricks to no avail. Now, before a trip for fish, I just prepare myself for the several weeks of seafood scent I will enjoy each time I open my car door.

There's not much other than fish at Louisiana Best. The hushpuppies are well fried and tasty, but the fries are just average. There are a few pre-made desserts in the case, but why do that when Jongewaard's Bake N' Broil is only a mile or so north; those cream pies make a fine coda to a fish fry.

Louisiana Best Seafood
2400 Atlantic Ave.
Long Beach, CA
(562) 424-0298.

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