I’m not too big on fried food. The Korean fried chicken trend a while back? Missed it entirely. But I do enjoy fried fish every now and then. The best I’ve had was in Edinburgh, Scotland, a place where they appreciate value as well. I like that combination: value and fried fish. I find it here on Lower East Side at Lok Sing Restaurant (290 Grand St.).
Lok Sing is a pretty typical Cantonese joint. Their menu lists a number of classics, such as clams in black bean sauce, and they do them well. A buddy of mine held his wedding reception in their upstairs banquet room, and the food was excellent. I’m not a regular there, but I walk by and look in their window most days. In addition to barbecue meats, they often have some prepared food in take-out containers, including fried fish fillets topped with hot pepper slices. For years, those trays of fish had been on my mental “to try” list. I got around to it last week.
Tender, delicate white fish (couldn’t tell exactly which fish it is) in a tasty batter coating. The hot pepper slices added a nice burn without obliterating the flavor. Surprisingly light-tasting for fried food. The container holds about three or four servings. The price? Seven dollars! That’s the kind of value a Scotsman would appreciate, though he’d probably bemoan the lack of chips and brown sauce. (Lok Sing isn’t a chip shop, after all). But the fish is absolutely perfect for making fish tacos, which is what I did when I got it home. For each taco I used two corn tortillas, a smear of guacamole, a chunk or two of fish and a dash of hot sauce. Those hungry for a trendier fusion vibe could add some kimchi, available in most Chinatown groceries.
Regardless of how you enjoy it, the take out fried fish at Lok Sing is a real neighborhood food find and a deal. It’s available from about 2:30 p.m.
JP Bowersock is a professional musician and music producer who has toured the world repeatedly, eating at top restaurants and hole-in-the-wall joints. He is a serious home cook with over two decades’ experience cooking for family, friends and fellow rock and rollers. Mr Bowersock keeps a toe in the wine business as well, consulting for the wine lists of several neighborhood establishments, including Clandestino, 35 Canal St. When not on tour or in the recording studio he’s scouring the neighborhood for frugal food finds.
While I think of beer as the typical accompaniment for fried fish and fish tacos, a white wine with a bit of fruit, acidity and just a hint of residual sugar pairs equally well. My favorite daily drinker of this type is the Spanish Marques de Riscal Rueda 2010 ($10 at Seward Park Liquors). Enough character to stand up to a little spice, yet not so precious as to seem out of place with fried fish. I’ve recommended this wine before and probably will again – it’s an outstanding value.