by Frank Sabatini Jr.
The Oceanaire Seafood Room • 400 J St. • 619-858-2277
A 1930s luxury ocean liner theme sets the stage for a burgeoning selection of fresh seafood that is flown in from all over the world. Executive Chef Brian Malarkey seizes the freshest catches the market has to offer, thus changing the menu daily and sometimes during mid-shift. In addition to the transient inventory, Malarkey’s notable standbys include oysters from both coasts, Cape Neddick sea scallops with lobster sauce, spicy fish stew and a towering shellfish platter that looks tailor made for a cruise ship captain.
Roy’s • 333 W. Harbor Drive • 619-239-7697
8670 Genesee Ave., La Jolla • 858-455-1616
A plethora of delicacies from the oceans surrounding Hawaii share menu space with assorted red meat choices, although seafood lovers will find it difficult to resist such coveted treasures as steamed cockles, misoyaki butterfish, big-eye tuna, Hawaiian ono and more. Founded in Honolulu in 1988 by Master Chef Roy Yamaguchi, the upscale restaurant offers slightly different menus at each San Diego location. In either case, dishes are meticulously crafted while blending together crafty cooking preparations from Asia, Hawaii and Europe.
Auggie’s House of Crab • 1468 N. Coast Highway, Leucadia • 760-634-2722
Small, colorful and very casual, Auggie’s offers a treasure chest of seafood packaged into “feasts” or sold by the pound. Since opening recently, it has become a coastal destination for sweet snow crab, tender green lip mussels, succulent head-on shrimp and unique shrimp burgers. The mom-and-pop atmosphere embodies ocean-blue walls and whimsical shellfish art.
Top of the Market • 750 N. Harbor Drive • 619-234-4867
This intimate white-linen restaurant is the glamorous sister to The Fish Market, one level below, which means no flipflops or T’s allowed. Perched along the San Diego Bay, guests are afforded an elegant atmosphere with water views, an expanded wine list and gourmet seafood dishes prepared in an exhibition kitchen. East Coast scallops in shiitake mushroom sauce, Australian lobster and local swordfish grilled over mesquite charcoal reign supreme.
Sea Rocket Bistro • 3382 30th St. • 619-255-7049
Local fishermen delivering their daily catches are a common sight at Sea Rocket Bistro in North Park, an informal neighborhood eatery where fresh seafood occupies about 90 percent of the menu. The restaurant’s oceanic theme is unmistakable as customers are greeted by video loops of anglers trawling the water for spiny lobster, yellowtail and sea urchin. Grilled sardines brushed with salt and olive oil makes for a wonderfully rare appetizer, as does the urchin bisque served in its purplish spiky shell.