Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Seafood at the Beach: Fathers Day at Quality Seafood in Redondo Beach and Shanghai Red's in Marina Del Rey

This is the 126th post here on Eat. Travel. Eat!, which is also the same number as my Tripadvisor account (BSA126)...so I decided to write about something different compared to my usual restaurant review. Today, it is all about a Father's Day trip at the beach.

First I want to thank Elmomonster of Monster Munching for sparking our minds to make this day happen. Months ago, I read his blog on an interesting place called Quality Seafood. Quality Seafood is a very large seafood market (they proclaim to be largest on the west coast), but what made us want to go there was Elmomonster's photo and video of the sea urchin, or uni. For months, my family and I deliberated about going to the place, but when summer arrived, we had the urge to go there on the weekend.

And so we did on Fathers Day. It was a long road trip consisting of a long local route and freeways but it was worth it. The route was confusing at first. Why?

Well, our GPS didn't have the International Boardwalk street as a place to locate it. Secondly, Quality Seafood was not in the POI list either. So, I just picked a place that sounded familiar on the GPS (I know, a disaster waiting to happen!) close by, and we drove all the way to Redondo Beach.

When we did arrive, we found out we were at the wrong place. Wrong pier, wrong location. So, we called Quality Seafood. Luckily, right at their phone, they had a automated system which told people how to drive to their location. After looking at the map, we found Quality Seafood's location.

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This is what you are looking for. The Redondo Beach Pier.

As we went downward to enter the parking lot, the view just got better. Pristine ocean views, and a beautiful blue sky. After a slight right turn, we were in the busy parking lot, which is not free to park in for those who are not sure. Very busy on Father's Day- there was lots of honking and cars entering/ leaving. However, we found a spot in about two minutes, and parked.

After we parked, we noticed we parked on the wrong side of the parking lot to go to Quality Seafood (Quality Seafood is at the far end of the parking lot, and not near the entrance of the parking lot). So, we walked along the pier, watching the ocean on a breezy and sunny day. Then, we walked downstairs, and this is what we saw:

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What is large? This is large. Quality Seafood took up a large L corner spot in the International Boardwalk. Quality Seafood is larger than all the other fish markets that we have visited, including the Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA. Not only was plenty of outdoor seating, the seafood market was just large.

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I tried to take a panoramic of the place, but no, it didn't work when I put all the photos and photomerged them in Photoshop. What is supposed to be a L corner looks like a zig-zag. But you can tell how large it is...right?

At first the layout was confusing at first. There were various stations specializing on a particular item, like oysters, shellfish, fish, and hot items. Mainly people were lining up on the hot food area, which confused us as we thought in order to buy something, we would need to enter the line which was already out the door from Quality Seafood.



Here is a video on the interior of Quality Seafood. This walk around goes around half of the entire market, but other parts of Quality Seafood were closed on Father's Day. What is missing in the video is the oyster and crab areas of Quality Seafood. What you do see is the bread, hot items, fish, and clam section.

Obviously, we were looking for the sea urchins that Elmomonster ate, but unfortunately, it was not available. They had already sold them out on Saturday, the day before Father's Day. The employee which we asked about sea urchins said that if you want to try the sea urchins, it is best to come on Thursday or Friday. Basically meaning, Thursday and Friday is when to come for the freshest seafood.

At first I wanted to order some hot food items like freshly fried fish or the clam chowder, but looking at the line, I didn't want to order anymore. Plus, my dining companions had already ordered while I was looking at the food items and doing the video which you see above. So...

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Looking at all the items, we decided have some oysters for lunch (at first). There was no line at the oyster bar, but the employees were busy shucking oysters for people already ordering oysters. The people who we saw ordering oysters were buying several dozens of oysters for their families. We did the same.

The same person in the photo, which was also the same person who helped Elmomonster with the uni (look at the top right hand corner of the photo all about the uni), shucked our oysters for us. We asked for his recommendation of oysters and picked whatever he recommended. At first, we just wanted to try out all the large sized oysters, but he disagreed. He recommended the Hamma Hamma Oysters, which cost 1.60 each. The employee described these oysters as being smooth and sweet. He said these mid sized oysters were the best- the large oysters would be too salty. So, we followed suit with him, and he started shucking.

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One by one, he started shucking the oysters and took them out from a mesh bag which was soaking the oysters in the water. Using one knife, he smoothly and quickly opened each oyster and then used the same knife to loosen up the oyster for easy eating. Above is the employee finished with our two dozen's worth of Hamma Hamma Oysters. He was searching for more lemons in this photo.

Afterward he found the lemons, which were in a huge tub. Using his bare hands he grabbed a handful of the lemons and placed it onto the oysters, and put some hot sauce packets and cups of cocktail sauce on top of the oysters. After we paid for the oysters along with tipping him, the oysters were free to eat.

Hamma-Hamma-Oysters

And definitely, these Hamma-Hamma Oysters were tasty! The liquid from the Hamma-Hamma oysters were not too salty like the employee said. With a squeeze of lemon, we gulped our two dozen down pretty quickly. Each morsel was firm and not mushy, and even with the lemon squeezed on top, the oysters still had their original flavors. A light cucumber finish lingered in our mouths after we finished them.

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In addition to our Hamma-Hamma Oysters we also got some live black mussels and manila clams which were then steamed with a sauce concoction which tasted like butter and wine. Unlike some of the seafood items like the fish and oysters which were a good deal, the mussels and clams were definitely not as good of a deal. 8.99 a pound for both the clams and mussels, and the photo above was about 12 dollars. How did we order them? Well, what we did was go to the shellfish area (right next to the oyster bar), and then asked for the employee to get us some manila clams and mussels. After weighing them in a plastic bag which still had water in it, the employee asked us if we wanted to cook the clams and mussels, and we replied yes. Thus, he then took out an aluminum pan, which you see in the photo, and put all the clams and mussels in there. Next, he added two squirts of sauce from a vat, and then steamed the clams and mussels in an industrial steamer. After about 10 minutes, we went back and received our clams and mussels- the pan was HOT! Anyway, both the clams and mussels were not too juicy and were a bit dry, but they were all very fresh (if not, that would have been the most disappointing place I have ever been to along the ocean!). I guess they steamed them for too long. The sauce had a rich butter and wine flavor, along with the juice from the clams and mussels, but it was a tad salty. In addition, they did not clean the clams or mussels, so we got some extra sea greens from the sea.

On seating at Quality Seafood: There is a large seating area outside on the first floor, as well as on the second floor. In addition, there are also some stand up areas you can choose from. If you have a partner with you, I suggest that one person (or more) goes buy the food, and everyone else go find a spot. Finding a spot is not easy especially when it is crowded, and you do not want to be holding your food waiting for a seat. Not only does the food not get fresh, you have an ultra high chance of dropping your food.

Also, bring along some plates and forks, which I saw other people do, so that you can share amongst your party. Newspapers are provided so that you can cover up the stone tables.

Overall, Quality Seafood was definitely an interesting experience. The food was most definitely fresh, and some of the seafood there is very affordable for the price. When eating here, you can either make your meal very affordable or very pricey depending on your mood. It is all up to you. We will be back for the uni when we have time!

Quality Seafood‎
(310) 374-2382‎
130 International Boardwalk
Redondo Beach, CA‎ 90277

Quality Seafood on Urbanspoon

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And nope, this isn't just the end of the blog post! Along with Quality Seafood, we also visited the area and also went to another restaurant. Father's Day weather at Redondo Beach was great- breezy, not too warm, and sunny. Great day to take photos. And so, I did.

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Here is a photo from the pier at the International Boardwalk where Quality Seafood is located. Great blue waters and blue sky. Plenty of activity too happening on Father's Day; there were even boat tours going on.

Anyway, even after eating the clams, two dozen oysters, and mussels, we were still hungry. So, we set off to Kincaid's which was also at the pier. This however was not successful at all. Even after we had sat for 5 minutes, no one came to serve us even though that they knew we were there! So, we left the place, and while doing so, we noticed we had lost something of value. Sigh.

We wanted to drive back home as we were still hungry, and even wanted to make plans with our other dining companions to eat at a Hong Kong style cafe. But...one of my dining companions, who was doing the driving, found another place, which we all have gone too and like. Traffic was ULTRA slow, and barely any cars were moving. Thus, we headed off the freeway, and headed towards Shanghai Red's, in Marina Del Rey. One of our very favorite restaurants in this area.

Shanghai-Reds

Shanghai Red's is located right next to the marina as well as next to a public parking lot. At Father's Day, the lot was full, like it usually is. If you plan on staying at Shanghai Red's for less than two hours, park at the public parking lot. But if not, park at Shanghai Red's own valet parking spaces. You will save some money depending on how long you keep eating and enjoying the view at Shanghai Reds.

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After we had parked, we went towards to Shanghai Red's, which has a beautiful shady pathway that meanders into the entrance of the restaurant. Along the path, you will see plenty of greenery, as well as a copious amount of fish swimming around in the pond.

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And these fish definitely attracted attention! People would watch the fish from not only inside of the restaurant but also outdoors at the pathway. But nevertheless, watching fish was not our key goal- eating was :).

So, we walked into the restaurant and found out it was in full brunch buffet mode, and not in regular restaurant mode with menus and the like. We had forgotten that on Sundays and holidays that they offer a brunch buffet. At first, this made some of my dining companions want to choose another place, but since we were here anyway, we decided to eat here. The waiter brought us to our seats, which were outdoors.

Outside-Seating

At first we didn't want to sit outdoors. It was sunny outside, and it was also warm. However, although the inside of the restaurant was not full, the only spaces available were at an empty place where everyone was walking by. No one was leaving quickly- we did have to wait for a spot, as the customers were soaking up the great view and having conversations amongst themselves and the friendly staff.

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See? One spot in the interior was completely empty. No one ended up sitting here anyway. Everyone was outdoors or was in a different part of the restaurant. After we received our table, we headed off to the buffet, which was split into three areas.

Main-Buffet-Line

In a room that had no tables for customers was the main buffet line. All the major hot items were here- salmon, seafood newburg, korean shortribs, rack of lamb, et cetera. There was also a selection of Mexican food like soups and chips and dips, as well as fruits, breads and pastries, breakfast options (like eggs benedict which was actually pretty good- the egg still had a runny center), sushi, and cold seafood like shrimp and mussels (and more food that I can not remember since I did not try it). By the time we arrived, around 3PM, people were gathering items as they said that the restaurant was going to stop food production for a few hours. It did not seem like that to us, but most certainly, when some items were taken, they did not come back for a while- like the lamb chops.

Drinks

Right outside the room was the drinks area, which was split up into two areas. The first one was a cappuccino area which also had extras like whipped topping, cookies, biscotti, and marshmallows. The other station was for juices, and the juices available were apple, orange (freshly squeezed), and cranberry.

Pasta-Station

Another station was the pasta station, which was located at the bar which also had the empty seating area. There was two types of pasta to choose from as well as a selection of meat and veggies. I did not get to try any of the pasta during this visit.

Patio

The only station that was outdoors was the breakfast and meat station, which had a choosing of freshly made to order omelets, prime rib, ham, turkey, waffles, and some other breakfast items, as well as side items like strawberries and whipped topping to go with the waffles. I did get the prime rib here. It is actually one of Shanghai Red's signature items and costs a lot at the regular menu (that is, unless you get the kids menu which portion is just as large as the regular menu).

Desserts

Located by the drinks and main buffet line was the dessert station which had a large, high quality chocolate fountain, sugar free cookies and cakes, and conventional sugar loaded cakes. There was plenty to choose from for the cookies and cakes, and for the chocolate fountain, there were madelines, marshmallows, melons, pineapple, rice crispies, and strawberries all skewered on bamboo sticks to dip in the chocolate.

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With so much selection available, we definitely got our fill of food and drink. Let's start out with the drinks. Here is some of the freshly squeezed orange juice which was sweet and had some pulp, a glass of ice water, and some Wycliff champagne which was included in the buffet price. Our servers kept wanting to pour more and more, and they did for everybody! Constant refills.

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Yes, by the case. With so many customers, they used a ton of champagne with the constant refills. No wonder why this buffet cost 38 dollars per person. The champagne costs a lot!

Cappuccino

Another drink that we got our fair share of was the cappuccino from the cappuccino station. Making the cappuccino look good was not easy, especially since whipped topping would just not go off from the giant spoon! So... I had two misses and one hit. The middle one was actually my first one. Anyway, we got about 5 glasses of this cappuccino. It was probably from a mix but it tasted fine to me anyway. It was at a nice warm temperature that was not at all near boiling which was nice for this hot day, and it had a rich and sweet cream and coffee flavor.

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And what about the food? Well, this was my first plate. At the top you see baked salmon, the seafood newburg (a bit of it- it is the orange substance), lemon wedge, cold green mussels with cocktail sauce, and prime rib with aj jus. Everything on this plate was excellent. The baked salmon was very tender and melted in your mouth. Seafood newburg was an interesting dish- the sauce was like lobster bisque, and the seafood portion had plenty of scallops, squid, fish, and other varieties of seafood. The mussels were nicely chilled and were definitely not overcooked. They were much larger than the ones at Quality Seafood! Lastly, the prime rib with aj jus was definitely the star of the plate. When the server cut it from the entire piece of meat, he even asked if I wanted the fat or not. However, he had cut fast enough so that I couldn't make a choice :). So, we joked around and had fun with these decision making skills. The prime rib was very tender even though it was fully cooked. Plenty of beef flavor was still in the roast, and the aj jus just heightened the flavor even more (and it wasn't from a mix). However, if the meat was just a bit more rare more it would have been even more tender and flavorful. I have had their prime rib during the regular menu and it tastes delicious when at medium. This was still good though.

I even got a second plate of prime rib and some other dishes, but I forgot to take a photo to my surprise! Anyway, after my second plate I was picking off from my dining companion's plates as they had gotten enough to share. So, I was able to try both the Korean shortribs and the lamb chops, both of which were excellent. The Korean shortribs were marinated not for too long and had the flavor from a Korean BBQ restaurant- it was a bit similar to what Todai used to serve at their buffets. The lamb chops were marinated with some mustard and had a lamb flavor which was not too potent but not bland either.

Views

After all this food, I relaxed and watched the view, just like how other customers and people at the marina were doing. And why not; Shanghai Red's says their view is the most romantic view in the marina right on their business card. There was plenty of action going on with the boats, and watching the birds fly around and the water shine was intriguing. Speaking about the birds...

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There were birds all around the marina, and with all the birds, they decided to splat their poo onto the umbrella and onto Shanghai Red's customers. My jacket was a victim from all this, and so was my chair and part of the table. Luckily, the Shanghai Red's staff came to the rescue, wiping up the mess and covering it up with cloth so it looked like normal.

The staff was great to us. They were not only amicable but they also engaged the customers and even provided some live entertainment. One of the staff members sang songs and the customers joined along with some clapping beats. How fun! This doesn't happen often at most restaurants.

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Since I was nearing the end of my intake of food, I decided to go to the desserts station and cover some sweets in chocolate so that they could dry out a bit before I ate them. This plan did not work however. Even after 20 minutes of waiting the chocolate did not dry, unlike my experiences at Shangri-La and Harrah's chocolate fountains. This plate had a marshmallow, a rice crispy, and three strawberries. Previously on my second plate I also made a chocolate covered madeline which was scrumptious. All the items were excellent- the ingredients were fresh and the strawberries were sweet. What was best was the chocolate, which was very smooth and not too sweet on the mouth. Great dessert!

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And to really end the meal, I got a cookie, two slices of cheesecake, and a lemon cake to share. The cheesecake was not too heavy and the crust was sweet, thin, and not too crumbly, which I liked. On the other hand, the lemon cake had lots of cream, but still had plenty of the lemon flavor. The fat and thin chocolate chip cookie was buttery and sweet, with plenty of chocolate chips throughout the cookie.

Overall, the Father's Day Brunch at Shanghai Red's was worth the money and was a great experience. The food was of a high quality and I was very happy with all the food. Great atmosphere, food, and service. What more could you want? And it is reasonably priced for the area too. I just might go back this weekend as I have another special occasion coming up...

Shanghai Red's
13813 Fiji Way
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
Tel: 310-823-4522

Shanghai Red's on Urbanspoon

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As we drove on the freeway (with still some traffic even after 3 hours eating and enjoy the view at Shanghai Red's), we noticed an advertisement for Pepsi on a building. And with that note, this is the end of my post.

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6 comments:

Selba said...

Wow! A lot of nice pictures! Good review :)

noobcook said...

looks like a nice place to enjoy unlimited seafood, with a view. I am drooling at the sight of the fresh oysters.

elmomonster said...

Aww too bad they didn't have the uni for you to try. I'm glad I tried them, but to me they're scary when they're alive like that. Good call on the smaller oysters. The bigger ones might not have been easy to digest.

EatTravelEat said...

Selba,
Thanks for the compliment!

Noobcook,
Fresh oysters are great when they are available :). Too bad that only seafood places serve fresh oysters; in my area there are only a handful of these places.

Elmomonster,
Uni would have made the day perfect :). But I think it would have still been a shocker to my dining companions and me even though we all saw your video of the uni!

Mochachocolata Rita said...

seeing how you draw funny faces to protect privacy cracked me up! :)
should i do the same? ehhehe

the food and the beach look amazing!....

EatTravelEat said...

Mochachocolata Rita,
I think my first few drawings to cover the oyster guy's face would have been even funnier :). Unfortunately I accidentally shut down the computer and then lost all my work!