Dear Mr. Gold:
Where can I buy nice fresh fish in the Silverlake/Los Feliz/downtown area? I'm having a housewarming party.
--Deborah, Los Feliz
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Do you really want to do seafood for a party? You're almost always better off with roasted pork shoulder, or even cheap ham that you glaze to a polished shine. You can feed a million people for about twenty bucks, and everybody but the vegans is happy as hell. But I find myself pretty often at Fish King in Glendale, which always has a lot of fish, always of good quality, and is sensitive to seasons. If it's time for Copper River Kings, you can be sure that they have them; if the sand dabs or rock lobsters or Alaskan halibut are particularly good, they'll be in the case. And they always let me get all tentacles when I buy squid, which is kind of piggy, but there you go. McCall's on Hillhurst has some great fish too, mostly local, seasonal and sustainably caught, but it tends to be expensive, and there isn't always much of it.
The fish is sparkling at the Marukai market in the Weller Court complex in Little Tokyo, although it may be a better place to buy for small dinners than it is to buy for lots of people - the variety is good, but there often isn't a lot of each fish. (The larger Mitsuwa markets in Torrance and Gardena don't tend to have that problem.) Still, Marukai's black cod marinated in the lees left over from the sake-making process is completely delicious, fast to cook and almost foolproof. A perfect Tuesday night supper, sure, but if you pop out a few nonstick pans, it's easy to make enough for a crowd.
Marukai: 123 S. Onizuka St., downtown; (213) 893-7200.