Fish Fish: Old-School Fried Goodness in North Miami
The singer sways his hips and croons an indistinguishable tune. In almost all circumstances, he'd be considered unusual: a thin man with a floppy fishing hat, blue shirt, and pleated khakis pulled too high on his waist. He looks like Gilligan in a cruise ship's karaoke bar. Gyrating in the back of Fish Fish's dining room on a Saturday night, though, he just makes sense.
billwisserphoto.com Fried fish at Fish Fish
This North Miami spot, which occupies the same strip mall as a bank, a dry cleaner, and a pizza place, is beyond quirky. Take the Baja fish tacos. Tucked into warm tortillas, grilled strips of grouper are perfectly cooked and covered in the expected pico de gallo. But then there are some oddities -- grated cheddar cheese and a "Baja" sauce that tastes suspiciously like ranch.
You can scoff all you want at the pairing. Fish Fish doesn't mind. It makes no excuses for its antiquated ways. Instead, the seafood restaurant relishes in what others might consider square.
On the menu, there's coleslaw, chicken piccata, and truffled Parmesan French fries. Sure, those shoestring potatoes may be tired and old-fashioned, but there is comfort in the tiny hunks of cheese that gather on the parsley-dotted plate.
Beneath the copper nautical lamps, a preview of your meal awaits. There, a small water tank showcases live lionfish -- a local invasive species that's also available for sale at the restaurant's market. "The spines are poisonous. Cut them off, and the fish is good to eat," says the cheery fishmonger in a white coat.
Whole grouper, yellowtail snapper, and hogfish share an ice bed with this striped, pesky fish. Order the snapper in the "crispy" style. Cooks at Fish Fish score the flesh, thrust it into sizzling oil, and serve it upright as if it's about to swim off the plate. This properly fried fish barely needs any trimmings. At Fish Fish, though, there is tartar sauce and an Asian soy-spiked dip. There's also a lemon cut precisely into a crown-like shape -- the kind you haven't seen since you dined at a French restaurant in 1998.