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NEIGHBORHOOD EATERY

Love Story Reels in a Winning Cafe

July 21, 1994|MICHAEL KRIKORIAN

A smiling waitress and a good bowl of soup can lead to true love. It happened to Phillip Dang in 1977, when he wandered into a Vietnamese restaurant in Los Angeles and floated out in love with Tiem, the waitress who had served him beef noodle soup. A short while later the two were married. And when Phillip's employer moved to Dallas in 1991, the married couple also became a business couple, opening the Hermosa Fishmarket Cafe (despite the name, it's a cafe, not a market).

The Fishmarket Cafe is a relaxing outpost with some seafaring decorations: life preservers, oars, a mounted swordfish. Since it's a mere 100 feet from the Hermosa Pier, you can expect a casually dressed crowd.

A highlight of the menu is the raw oysters ($5.50), a molluscan half-dozen from Wallapa Bay in Washington. They are served with lemon wedges and a cocktail sauce with a dab of horseradish.

Fish is charcoal-grilled and very simply served, with no seasonings at all, unless you care to put on some tartar or teriyaki sauce. Alaskan king salmon ($9.95) comes with a salad and garlic bread. Monkfish ($8.95), known as "poor man's lobster," is often available, as are sea bass, swordfish and fresh tuna.

One of the most popular items here is the seafood paella ($6.25 at lunch, $8.95 at dinner), the classic Spanish dish of saffron-flavored rice and seafood. It's made with shrimp, mussels, clams, crab, squid and whitefish, not to mention garlic, onions, peas, mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots and bell peppers.

Fish tacos ($4.95 for two), those old beach favorites, are filled with shrimp and mahi mahi.

The Hermosa Fishmarket Cafe is at 20 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach. (310) 372-1488. Open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

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