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New to eating mussels - where should I try?

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I always thought mussels creepy and slimey until I tried them in a cioppino (out of state, in FL) and decided that they are actually little sea gems. I have not had them any other way.

So my question - to try out more versions of mussels (or perhaps the same prep) ... what's good in LA (Newbury Park west / Pasadena east / Sun Valley North / Palos Verde south)? Looking to taste a variety of preparations (Italian, French, Japanese, Californian...).

Price not an issueso long as mussels are a main part of an entree, as opposed to 1 course of a 15-course omakase menu.

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  1. If you are willing to venture south to Orange County, 2 excellent prospects for mussels are:
    Marché Moderne at South Coast Plaza - classic French preparation
    Brussels Bistro in Laguna Beach - Belgian style, with great accompanying beers

    1. The fresh New Zealand Steamed Green Mussels rolled with lemongrass & basil served with homemade green chili sauce at Jitlada in Hollywood are great.
      http://www.jitladala.com
      Also nice fresh steamed black penn cove mussels at Water Grill in Downtown LA.
      http://www.watergrill.com

      7 Replies
      1. re: wienermobile

        Many "mussel fans" (myself included) strongly prefer black mussels over the green-lipped from NZ. At least at first, I would recommend that a "mussel newbie" stick with black mussels such as those from the northwest US or Prince Edward Island in Canada.

        1. re: josephnl

          Thanks for the advice. Curious if the preference of black over green is because of taste or texture, or both?

          1. re: Betcom

            Both! My favorites are Penn Cove from WA, or PEI from Canada...or of course if you are in France from the Brittany coast. Although I love raw oysters, for me, I like my mussels steamed...although, I've had some chilled cooked mussels from a can that we're delicious...I believe they were from Spain.

            1. re: josephnl

              TOTALLY agree. The black mussels (especially the PEI) are far superior to the larger green shell mussels.

        2. re: wienermobile

          ... what wienermobile said.

          1. re: wienermobile

            I second the mussels at Jitlada.

            And disagree with josephnl - black mussels can be great, but the green lipped ones tend to be sweeter and less fishy-tasting. (and a bit cheweir too).

            1. re: foodiemahoodie

              There is no right or wrong, it's a matter of taste. I much prefer black mussels. To me, Penn Cove, PEI or French Brittany mussels are the best!

          2. I love the green curry mussels at Larry's on Venice Beach.

            http://larrysvenice.com/

            1. If you like them raw, I would recommend the Water Grill.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ipsedixit

                OP has only ever had them cooked.

              2. the mussels at La Cevicheria look AMAZING

                http://www.flickr.com/photos/dommichu...
                http://tangandbolster.blogspot.com/20...

                1. Picca...yes, I know..you said you wanted as an entree, ...well, here's a picture...you decide. (and scroll thru all the other good stuff at Picca - with credit and thanks to J.L. for the excellent photos).
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/836650
                  http://www.chow.com/photos/731574
                  http://www.piccaperu.com/menu/

                  oh yeah along the same lines of smaller plates but still tasty Baco Mercat http://bacomercat.com/media/dinner.pdf

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Local

                    Thanks all for the recommendations, I'm compiling a list, and planning on making the rounds (with camera).

                    Regarding the LA coast cities (Malibu north through South Bay area), any favorite places? Appetizer or entree size? Especially interested in bar food a la Abigale (in Hermosa).

                    And also, since for me this started with the cioppino for me, any recs for places that have particularly flavorful seafood/mussels?

                    1. re: Betcom

                      Love the mussels @ FIg in Santa Monica (in Miramar Hotel). They're served as an appetizer, but it's a large portion that's enough for dinner, at least for me. Wonderfully flavored broth (I think the tarragon is what distinguishes it). If you go between 5 & 6, everything on menu, including wine, is half price.

                    2. re: Local

                      +1 the Picca version. That sauce they serve with it (a sauce that they actually put on a lot of the menu) is great.

                      I actually don't think the jitlada mussels that gets much acclaim, critical and in this thread, are all that great. It's definitely a solid dish, but it never blew me away. I think I'm kinda alone on this point though, so chances are you'll enjoy them.

                    3. First, when I thinking of a great mussel restaurant, I also think of black mussels rather than green mussels. I think that is because I began to seriously like them in Europe, where the great restaurants that serve mussels as a specialty, generally use black mussels.

                      Having tasted both black and green mussels throughout LA, my personal favorites are the mussels and frites at Lillys in Venice. The entree is a large bowl of tender, plump, and tasty mussels in a wonderful broth. The fries are great, add a glass of wine, and dip the bread in the broth, and its a great dinner. Can't speak much to the rest of their menu, but those mussels are great.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Bruin2

                        Lily's is out of business.

                      2. If you're in the area, try Quality Seafood at the Redondo Beach pier. They do a simple steam with garlic and butter. Feel free to bring your own condiments. Their other shellfish, crab, fish, are also excellent. Fair warning, it's like eating at Boiling Crab - messy. Don't wear white, don't wear anything remotely nice.

                        1. Pizzeria Mozza's mussels with salsa Calabrese are my favorite. Coming in at a very, very close second is Barbrix in Silver Lake.

                          1. Hungry Cat in Santa Monica. Il Piccolino has great mussels with fries.

                            1. Why not just go out and eat some? Go to (or call) a restaurant and say "Ya got mussels?" Almost any Italian, Spanish, belgian or for that matter seafood restaurant wil say "Yes".

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: FrankJBN

                                Moules frites with saffron broth and aïoli is currently on the menu at Tavern in Brentwood. Offered as a main dish and really delicious. I have had it twice this month.Price is $25.00

                                1. re: maudies5

                                  I had moules at Tavern some years ago right after they opened and I recall it being a small portion and quite expensive. $25 is quite high for moules frites! Is it a good portion nowadays?

                                  1. re: josephnl

                                    I thought it was a good size portion. No appetizer and no dessert and I felt quite satisfied at the end of the meal.

                                    1. re: josephnl

                                      Everything there is quite expensive. You can't get out of there for under $50 especially if you have drinks......

                                2. Tar and Roses, Tasting Kitchen and MB Post get my vote. I just started eating them myself, so this is helpful.

                                  1. For two different experiences Jitlada's (thai) green mussels and Church & State's P.E.I./black mussels. The Church and state ones are my favorites due to the delicious broth.
                                    We also had a tasty version at Bestia last week. Their broth is flavored with a little sausage so is a bit bold.

                                    1. I say why not just make some at home in the classic French way?? They're so simple to do, and probably better than you'll find in any restaurant.

                                      Get a $4 bag of mussels (that's what 2 lbs of the PEI mussels go for in my neck of the woods) along with some butter, shallots, plenty of garlic, and some white wine. After the chopping and light sauteeing of the shallots & garlic (and any herbs you use), the steaming time (with the added wine) is matter of minutes.

                                      have a look here: http://www.cuisine-france.com/recipes...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: The Professor

                                        You found my secret for making steamed clams. BTW, I buy my steamers at SM Seafood.

                                      2. Try Meet in Culver City for excellent Moules Frites. They have well priced specials on their mussels and a decent selection of Belgian beers to go with them.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: moose73

                                          Currently, a lovely preparation of Moules et Frites at The Hungry Cat, Santa Monica,
                                          www.thehungrycat,com

                                        2. Had mussel cioppino at Kincaid's on the Redondo Beach Pier last night. Very well prepared and not too expensive. Parking is free for the holiday season until 8PM which made it quite nice.

                                          1. the mussels with filipino longanisa at playa are the best i've ever had, period. i wanted to slurp down the entire bowl of broth goodness. in my top ten best dishes of 2012.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: tastycakes

                                              Oh my, that does sound incredible! Thanks for sharing that info!