He shakes his head. “No, they are amazing!”
“But they are fried?” My stomach lurches at the thought of eating fried anything after spending two and half hours consuming chocolate at the Taste TV Chocolate Salon on Sunday morning.
“Yeah, but the batter is so light.” He insists. “You should come.”
I turn to Cathy (“The Gastronomer”), and immediately assign her the role of my personal Magic 8 Ball. “What do you think? Do I want fish tacos?” I ask.
She shrugs. “I don’t know… Mexican is always kind of heavy…”
“Well, Evelina is leaving Westwood now to meet me there, so I have to go…” Danny says. “You in?”
I wiggle my lips back and forth in my universal display of indecisive contemplation. After my disappointing meal at reservoir the night before, I’m in desperate need of some tasty (and cheap) food redemption. And savory tacos do sound kind of good… especially after the pound of chocolate I’ve eaten…
“I’m in.” I say with finality. “But I’m only going to have one.”
Thirty minutes, three wrong turns and two illegal U-turns later, I arrive at Ricky’s fish taco stand outside of the T-Mobile store at the Sunset Junction in Silver Lake. I’m slightly concerned when I see the small size of the stand because (and I know this will come as a bit of shock) I have the tendency to be a little bit of a food snob.
Fine, maybe a lot bit of a food snob.
Despite my initial apprehensions, the bright rainbow umbrella shielding Ricky from the sun seems to be a positive omen that everything is going to be okay with my digestive track. Plus, I trust Danny – he wouldn’t take me some place dirty. I don’t think…
As soon as I see Ricky’s clean zip-lock bag full of beautiful strips of fresh white fish (a variety that I’m told is similar to catfish) and his neat containers of pico de gallo and impeccably hand-sliced cabbage, I feel awash with happiness. It’s all so sanitary I want to give Ricky a big Diana bear hug! But I don’t. He’s got work to do – and two pandas and a princess to feed.
I follow Danny and Evelina’s lead and order one of the fish tacos to start. I watch in awe as Ricky, who also works at a flower shop in Hollywood, deftly dips the fish filets in his tempura batter and then plunks them into his deep fryer. He keeps careful watch over his fish – gently turning them as they cook. Once they have turned golden, he deftly removes each piece and sets it on a rack for any excess oil to drain off and the fish to cool. A couple minutes later, he whips out a pliant corn tortilla, nestles the fish in the center and then tops it off with cabbage, pico de gallo, a spicy red sauce, and a mayo/milk white sauce. When it’s my turn, he presents the taco to me with a shy smile. I gratefully accept.
With one bite I know that there is no way I’m going to be able to stop at just one taco like I’d insisted earlier. The flaky, lightly battered fish, the punch from the hot sauce against the cool white sauce, the crunch from the cabbage, and the fresh bite of pico de gallo, all come together in perfect collusion. It’s not just Rachael Ray “yummy,” it’s the best fish taco I’ve ever tasted.
“Soooo good….” I coo to Ricky, white sauce dribbling down my chin.
He smiles again – his face lighting up with pleasure. “Thank you.”
Two tacos – one fish and one shrimp – later, I’m practically euphoric. I eagerly pay my $7.50 tab, and gush to Ricky about how I can’t wait to come back with friends on future Saturdays and Sundays (hours 1 – 4 pm). Then I proceed to gush to Danny about how grateful I am that he insisted I come. (It’s possible I may also gush to the baristas at Intelligentsia down the street when I grab a cup of oolong plum ginger iced tea to-go.)
Ricky’s fish tacos are like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (umbrella). After my lackluster experience at reservoir, they were exactly what I needed to get my mojo back this weekend. Next time I see Ricky, I may have to go in for the big Diana bear hug.
Ricky’s Fish Tacos
Sunset Junction – Silver Lake (in front of the T-Mobile store on Santa Monica Blvd.)