Have a Fishy Feast 

Don't let these ones get away

Thai Bloody Mary at The Modern.

Patrick Sweeney

Thai Bloody Mary at The Modern.

15. Thai One On

Whether it's a squirt of Cholula, a shake of celery salt, a splash of pickle juice or a dribble of bacon grease, anything goes in the world of the bloody mary. At brunch, The Modern Hotel and Bar makes a stellar version of this classic cocktail, sans heaps of horseradish or meaty accouterments. Along with vodka and tomato juice, The Modern's mary incorporates Thai flavors like lime, honey, Thai basil and fish sauce, with a Sriracha salt rim.

"The fish sauce brings a lot to the drink without you being able to taste it so much," said Modern Food and Beverage Manager Remi Courcenet. "It's that secret ingredient that lifts everything up."

click to enlarge Som tum salad at Thai Basil - KELSEY HAWES
  • Kelsey Hawes
  • Som tum salad at Thai Basil

16. Som Tum... Yum

Thailand's classic som tum salad packs a palate punch of five intense flavors: sour lime, searing Bird's Eye chilies, salty fish sauce, savory dried shrimp and sweet palm sugar. No additional sweetness comes from the thinly shredded green papaya, which has a crunchy, almost tangy flavor when it's unripe. som tum is pounded together with a mortar and pestle, blending seemingly conflicting flavors into a balanced bowl of awesome. At Meridian's Thai Basil the Thai version is tossed with green long beans, tomatoes and peanuts, while the Lao-style salad includes anchovies.

17. Oui Have Oysters

If you've ordered oysters at an area eatery only to pluck bits of shell from your mouth mid-bite, you've probably wanted to scream, "Shuck you!" (or something similar). Thankfully, the pros at Reel Foods Fish Market know how to shuck an oyster and you know it will be fresh because you get to pick it out yourself from a tray of barnacled bivalves. Whether it's Kumamotos­ or Kusshis you crave, the fresh oyster bar at Reel Foods is well worth bellying up to. Though the market is currently up for sale, former owner Ocean Beauty Seafoods says it hopes everything will remain "exactly the way it is" and that there will be "no interruption in service at all."

click to enlarge Snakehead for sale at the Orient Market. - JEFFREY C. LOWE
  • Jeffrey C. Lowe
  • Snakehead for sale at the Orient Market.

18. Cast Your Net Wide

Each week, the Orient Market sends a truck to L.A. to pick up a shipment of fresh vegetables—everything from watercress to red shen choy to India bitter melons—and families line up on Saturday mornings to fill their baskets with unique produce. The real draw is the fresh, head-on whole fish. A tray of crushed ice cradles glistening aquatic creatures of every ilk—including milkfish and snakehead. Point to what you want and fishmongers will clean and descale the fish, weigh your catch, price it and toss it in a plastic bag with ice. It's the opposite of a grocery store fish department, and that's why it rules.

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