Summary: Fresh seafood is "King" at this Southern California restaurant and oyster bar.
Location: Ten locations throughout Southern California.
Price Range: $$
Pros: Fantastic fresh seafood and oyster bar; friendly service; regional fish specialties; menu changes daily
Cons: Inside can get noisy — grab a seat on the outdoor patio
There are no fancy gimmicks at this bona fide seafood restaurant — just quality fresh fish and regional specialties, many straight from our local waters.
King's Fish House, with 10 locations throughout Southern California, has an ever-changing daily menu of both wild and farm-raised seafood.
Regional choices on the King's Fish House menu may include Pacific swordfish, harvested from beyond the Channel Islands; and spiny lobster, caught by a father-son team of fishermen off Santa Catalina Island. Served grilled, steamed or stuffed, the lobster is served with crisp rosemary potatoes and a savory ratatouille.
We started with the King's oyster sampler, which changes daily according to availability. The oyster bar at King's Fish House restaurant shucks fresh, live oysters to order, served with shaved horseradish, cocktail sauce and a shallot/red wine vinaigrette.
Some of our favorites on the menu that day included the Island Creek Oysters, Malpique oysters and Kumamoto oysters, which, naturally, were the most expensive.
I really, really wanted to love the Carlsbad oysters, harvested locally from an aquafarm in San Diego, but I found them salty and challenging — definitely not for first-timers. One bite required a very swift swig of my husband's Samuel Adams, which compliments most oysters very well. (You can watch Jason's video of our oyster tasting here).
Our server, Jennifer of Victorville, was friendly and knowledgeable, keeping close watch on our iced teas and helpfully pointing out the varieties of fresh oysters on our plate.
We followed our oyster sampler with a delicious Lobster Crunchy Roll from the King's sushi bar menu and a Grilled Ecuadorian Mahi Mahi Sandwich, served with crisp-golden French fries and a creamy coleslaw. At King's, you can build your own sandwich, so we decided to top our fish sandwich with red leaf lettuce, sauteed mushrooms, grilled yellow onions and a tangy house-made remoulade. The bun was soft and spongy, and everything melded together beautifully.
King's also has an impressive kids menu, with plenty of fun activities, puzzles, stickers and fish facts. In addition to old favorites like mac n cheese, chicken tenders and cheeseburgers, the King's children's menu offers grilled salmon with veggies, deep fried shrimp and fish and chips (the latter which were fresh and delicious). In fact, despite being stuffed, I couldn't help taking several bites from my daughter's plate.
In addition to fresh seafood, King's serves up chicken, steaks, salads and pastas. King's Happy Hour, dubbed King's "Easy Hour," is held 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the lounge on weekdays. It's a great way to enjoy a fresh seafood dinner of killer fish tacos, oyster po'boys, fried calamari or ceviche Baja fish cocktail for around $6 a plate.
Watching your waistline or pregnant? For information on King's Fish House nutrition, click here.