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New to eating mussels - where should I try?

Betcom Nov 28, 2012 08:49 PM

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. j
    josephnl RE: Betcom Nov 29, 2012 10:03 AM

    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. wienermobile RE: Betcom Nov 29, 2012 10:13 AM

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

      7 Replies
      1. re: wienermobile
        josephnl RE: wienermobile Nov 29, 2012 10:20 AM

        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
          Betcom RE: josephnl Nov 29, 2012 07:54 PM

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

          1. re: Betcom
            josephnl RE: Betcom Nov 29, 2012 08:41 PM

            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
              The Professor RE: josephnl Nov 30, 2012 04:59 PM

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

        2. re: wienermobile
          J.L. RE: wienermobile Nov 29, 2012 05:01 PM

          ... what wienermobile said.

          1. re: wienermobile
            foodiemahoodie RE: wienermobile Nov 30, 2012 07:02 PM

            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
              josephnl RE: foodiemahoodie Nov 30, 2012 07:25 PM

              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. d
            Dirtywextraolives RE: Betcom Nov 29, 2012 02:22 PM

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


            1. ipsedixit RE: Betcom Nov 29, 2012 03:46 PM

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

              1 Reply
              1. re: ipsedixit
                FrankJBN RE: ipsedixit Nov 30, 2012 12:55 PM

                OP has only ever had them cooked.

              2. n
                ns1 RE: Betcom Nov 29, 2012 04:36 PM

                the mussels at La Cevicheria look AMAZING


                1. Local RE: Betcom Nov 29, 2012 05:09 PM

                  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).

                  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
                    Betcom RE: Local Nov 29, 2012 07:56 PM

                    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
                      archer RE: Betcom Nov 29, 2012 09:44 PM

                      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
                      andytseng RE: Local Dec 1, 2012 12:34 AM

                      +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. b
                      Bruin2 RE: Betcom Nov 29, 2012 08:40 PM

                      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
                        Charles Pepper RE: Bruin2 Nov 29, 2012 09:15 PM

                        Lily's is out of business.

                      2. p
                        prawn RE: Betcom Nov 30, 2012 02:24 AM

                        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. w
                          whatsfordinner RE: Betcom Nov 30, 2012 12:13 PM

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

                          1. t
                            Thor123 RE: Betcom Nov 30, 2012 12:50 PM

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

                            1. f
                              FrankJBN RE: Betcom Nov 30, 2012 12:58 PM

                              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
                                maudies5 RE: FrankJBN Nov 30, 2012 02:19 PM

                                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
                                  josephnl RE: maudies5 Nov 30, 2012 02:36 PM

                                  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
                                    maudies5 RE: josephnl Nov 30, 2012 03:18 PM

                                    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
                                      Dirtywextraolives RE: josephnl Nov 30, 2012 03:43 PM

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

                                2. j
                                  Juji RE: Betcom Nov 30, 2012 03:14 PM

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

                                  1. j
                                    john gonzales RE: Betcom Nov 30, 2012 03:19 PM

                                    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. The Professor RE: Betcom Nov 30, 2012 05:15 PM

                                      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
                                        maudies5 RE: The Professor Nov 30, 2012 09:46 PM

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

                                      2. moose73 RE: Betcom Dec 19, 2012 03:58 PM

                                        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
                                          maudies5 RE: moose73 Dec 19, 2012 07:39 PM

                                          Currently, a lovely preparation of Moules et Frites at The Hungry Cat, Santa Monica,

                                        2. c
                                          Clinton RE: Betcom Dec 20, 2012 10:52 PM

                                          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. t
                                            tastycakes RE: Betcom Dec 28, 2012 05:07 PM

                                            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
                                              Dirtywextraolives RE: tastycakes Dec 28, 2012 09:20 PM

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

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