Best Thing We Ate

Best Thing We Ate: Fishing With Dynamite's Whole Fish

By Lesley Balla  |  October 7, 2013

There's rarely a moment when the David LeFevre's Fishing With Dynamite seafood "shack" is empty. With a raw bar taking center stage of the teensy room, the few tables and bar stools are always filled, especially on an unseasonably warm weekend when a day at the beach is on everyone's mind. But it's not just because the place is small that it's always full; people pack it in for the excellent oyster selection, towers of chilled seafood, bowls of creamy chowder, grilled octopus with tomato ragu, and the chef's mom's soft squash rolls. While we were lucky to get in on some of the fresh live Santa Barbara uni that was available for the day, which was some of the best, purest sea urchin we've had anywhere, one of the standout dishes for us was a special of the day - the whole fried New Zealand Tai snapper.

The snapper is supposed to feed two, but a few people can easily pick at the crispy skin and tender meat. The fish first is marinated in ginger and garlic, and then the whole thing gets deboned and stuffed with kaffir lime leaves and citrus before being coated and fried. It comes out swimming in a sea of cilantro, radishes and a delicious housemade ponzu sauce, and our table pretty much cleaned the bones, what few there were, and ate the whole thing in minutes flat. It was just that good. Getting a table at FWD might be a challenge, but it's definitely worth the effort.