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Fishing With Dynamite

Critics' pick
1/11
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Thai shellfish & coconut soup at Fishing with Dynamite

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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
SS Minnow at Fishing with Dynamite
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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
New England Clam Chowdah at Fishing with Dynamite
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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Key lime pie at Fishing with Dynamite
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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Fishing with Dynamite
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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Fishing with Dynamite
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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Fishing with Dynamite
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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Fishing with Dynamite
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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Fishing with Dynamite
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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Fishing with Dynamite
11/11
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Fishing with Dynamite
Manhattan/Hermosa/Redondo
OpenTable

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Review

David LeFevre's fever for fresh bivalves blows coastal dining doldrums out of the water, showcased in sterling specimens of jumbo shrimp, live Peruvian scallops, Littleneck clams, PEI mussels and oysters pulled from all directions to grace the restaurant's showpiece shellfish towers. The MB Post chef also offers tailored renditions of tried-and-true cooked seafood classics from across the seven seas, frequently revealing recipes that surpass their archetypes, as in a cozy coconut-tinged Thai broth brimming with shrimp and mussels ($11) and an Asian pear and kimchi–spiked albacore tartare ($12) that obliterates the ubiquitous (and often bland) menu item. Certain cooked entrées fall short of the simple, superior shelled starters. Clam "chowdah" ($6) fails to sound the bells of New England nostalgia: More like a cup of watery, cream of potato soup, it needs more than three clams, despite the pleasurable additions of thick Nueske's bacon, Weiser spuds and housemade oyster crackers. Regardless, you can't miss with the mollusks and crustaceans—squeaky fresh scallops on the half shell ($13, half dozen) and creamy, plump PEI mussels ($9, half-pound)—arguably the whole point of LeFevre's swan dive into a South Bay sequel and unquestionably the reason this diminutive restaurant is so hard to get a seat at right now.

 

Vitals

Eat this: Luxurious raw bar additions such as Channel Islands sea urchin, Dungeness crab and Atlantic lobster can upgrade tiers from S.S. Minnow ($39) to Queen Mary ($75) and Mothershucker ($145), making for pristine, pamper-worthy plates worth the prices. "New School" dishes reflect the regional fixations of the contemporary US chef in a black miso cod with adzuki beans and pickled ginger ($16), steelhead trout with unexpected, gentle acidity from capers and sultanas ($14) and a bowl of mussels and shrimp bobbing in a Thai coconut broth with rice noodles and kaffir lime leaves ($11). Bright, creamy key lime pie ($7) makes for a perfect, palate-puckering finish.

Drink this: A long set of beers mostly screams locals-only, with plenty of higher alcohol ales to face down rich and delicious dishes such as pork belly confit with white corn grits and green tomato chutney. Jerry Garbus' excellent cocktails ($12) veer towards the lighter side of the spirit force to give all these briny flavors a little breathing room, getting gin, tequila, beer, pisco and vodka mixed up with strange fruits, lavender tinctures, beer flips, smoke and pickled onions.

Where to sit: Inside the sheer white of a Cape Cod clapboard are splashes of quirky cartoons of sea critters framed above a harlequin floor. Though the raw bar is at the fulcrum of the action, you'll get in where you can at this tiny space then try to hear your companions above the booming baritone of Biggie Smalls.

Conversation piece: You'll typically find LeFevre in the center of the action, entrenched like the Pope behind the glass partitions of a boxy raw bar. Blunt blade in hand, the chef nips and tucks, composing shellfish towers with the dexterity, deliberation and style you'd expect from a former Water Grill chef. All the while, the seafood fanatic discourses like a marine biology professor who just happens to be shucking shells on sabbatical. —Hadley Tomicki



Next door to the neighborhood favorite MB Post, Fishing with Dynamite is chef David LeFevre's ode to the ocean. The seafood-centric menu lists "old school" classics of the Atlantic Northeast (think: clam chowder, crab cakes) and "new school" traditions of the West Coast—dishes range from black miso cod ($16) to albacore tuna tartare ($12) gussied up with shrimp chips and kimchi furikake. Of course, no seafood joint would be complete without a raw bar stocked with goodies such as shrimp, clams, crab and oysters—opt for the SS Minnow ($39) for you or the big-daddy Mothershucker ($145) for a group of five to six—served on the half shell and served with a choice of two housemade sauces from standard (mignonette, cocktail) to not-so-standard (ponzu, pico de gallo). Landlubbers can opt for turf: Confit pork belly ($14) is served with white corn grits and grilled steak ($18) takes on a Japanese twist with shishito peppers, grated daikon and lime-soy gastrique. The ambiance here is casual and fun—house rules say it's "chow-dah" and "lob-stah," while oysters are to be slurped. Try cocktails ($12) such as the Original Gangster with moonshine, aperol and grapefruit that play up the classics or get craft-y with brews on draft ($6.50-$12.50). —Katherine Kims

Venue name: Fishing With Dynamite
Address: 1148 Manhattan Ave
Los Angeles

Venue phone: 310-893-6299
Website: http://www.eatFWD.com
Opening hours: Mon-Wed 11:30am-10pm, Thu-Sat 11:30am-10:30pm, Sun 11:30am-10pm
Price: $31 to $50
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