happy birthday, mother bear! to celebrate oh-so-cute mother bear's birthday, we took her to redondo beach because she loves the seafood. my family would occasionally come here to treat out-of-towners, and the bear had been once without me and loved it. it's not much to look at, but it's such a great experience.
if you got there early like we did, around 5 PM, you would have been the only group in line. if you came around the time we left, you totally would have had to stand in line. neener neener.
not to fear! there is plenty of seating, but the line at the counter tends to get backed up. walk past the tanks of shellfish to the counter, place your order pointing to the picture menu if necessary (although they do understand english) with the brusque waitress, then walk to the end of the counter so the "hostess" can seat you.
the view from our table.
there's nothing like some hite beer in a small solo cup to complement the salty sea air.
a cart will also come by offering you cold water or hot boricha (barley tea) tout de suite. notice everything is disposable minus the spoon.
we ordered a nice variety of sea creatures for our consumption. first, the [small] sashimi platter. we were all getting full already after this. please note at least one variety of fish had already been eaten all up and quite a few pieces of others eaten by the time this photo was taken.
among the platter's more unique offerings--sea cucumber, marinated abalone, squid, and what i think was conch. we've never ordered the large. the small is more than an appetizer for four.
it even came with a side of uni (sea urchin).
i actually had never tried it until today, always offering it to the adults first. it melts in your mouth and doesn't taste like much except the sea--pleasantly salty and light. it's looks much scarier than it is.
again, i was an eager beaver and forgot to take a photo until some of the food had already been claimed. lobster time! our surprisingly very chipper waiter rolled the cart over, chopped this guy's claws off then chopped him in half. all you get is a wooden mallet, some plastic forks, and wooden chopsticks. i find that my teeth are the most effective tool anyway.
my favorite--the crab. again, notice 1/4 of the guy has already been taken away. and yes, ours was male. no yummy crab roe. :(. again, this was pulled out of its shell (brains reserved for slurping out of the shell), then quartered to make it a little easier.
dang crab. so delicious, yet so much work for so little (yet so tasty) meat.
all the shellfish is simply steamed and served with gochujang (red pepper sauce that is slightly sweet with sesame oil and seeds added). they also offer clarified butter if you wish. the meat is so sweet already that i rarely dip it in anything. if i do, it's the gochujang.
aaaaand our final course--mae woon tang (literally, "spicy soup" with fish, tofu, mushrooms, green onion, napa cabbage, head on shrimp, and other yummies in a korean red pepper flake and seafood broth). so shiwonhae (something like refreshing; there is no exact translation for the word when used in this context) after all that work and all that food. really, the spiciness just washes everything down.
totally a great hangover cure, by the way. the fish just melts in your mouth with nary a trace of fishiness about it. the rice helps with the spiciness.
some of the aftermath. much had already been cleared away on the trays that our shellfish friends were served on.
your hands are sure to be sticky with sweet seafood juices afterward. wetnaps are not offered, but there are sinks outside of the bathrooms for your use. please do not be shocked if older men or women are washing their entire faces in the sink along with their hands. that's just how we do after messy meals (usually at home, but they have no shame in public, either).
we walked around the pier a bit afteward to digest.
the bear family.
those fishing off the pier seemed quite talented at catching lots of this:
we looked at another seafood purveyor's wares, which included some cousins of our dinner and a rabid (?) blue crab.
mother bear was tempted by the ice cream and soft serve offered around the pier, so we decided to introduce her to tart fro yo via yogurtland on the way home. she enjoyed her taro yogurt very much. the bear and i each had tart yogurt(s) with fruit and mochi on top, of course. i had gone so long without tart fro yo but have been inhaling it again lately. i guess it's that time of year again.
have i mentioned how i love summer so?