Sunday, August 02, 2009

Ricky's Fish Tacos - The One Man Stand

Ricky's Fish Tacos, Silver Lake

***UPDATE: Ricky's Fish Tacos has moved to 4100 N. Virgil in the Virgil Village area, just south of Hollywood/Blvd. Wed - Fri 11:30 - 4:30 and Saturdays & Sundays 11:30 - 6 pm . Check his twitter updates as his scheduling does change.

In Los Angeles, a whole vending truck craze started going around, ever since the debut of Kogi BBQ. Not only are there copycat Korean BBQ trucks, Indian food from the Dosa Truck, a Vietnamese banh mi truck in Westwood (Nom Nom), a sushi truck called Fishlips, and a Japanese snack truck called Marked 5, just to name a few. But, for me I prefer the wheels of a stand versus the wheels of a truck. And it's nice to know that some people are still keeping it real, like this gentleman, Ricky.

After having some friends tell me about this one-man-fish-taco-stand, Jeni and I drove over on a breezy Saturday afternoon to hopefully eat Ensenada-style food. We were told that Ricky showed up sporadically on Sunset, in front of a laundromat, just across from Intelligentsia. The only way to know if he's there is to look for a sign, or more specifically, a rainbow parasol. My brain has learned that rainbow parasols are often linked to delicious street food together after a visit to the wonderful Breed Street food fair in East LA.

We were fast approaching Ricky's location but there was traffic, so we couldn't see anything in front of the laundromat. But good things happen if it was meant to be... there it was, the rainbow parasol. Fish tacos... on the street... on a sunny Saturday...

Like a one-man band armed with his bass drum, harmonica, knee cymbals and trombone, Ricky had his own arsenal of utilities. A deep-fry cart, tongs, his condiments, a griddle underneath the fryer, an Igloo for keeping tortillas warm, a fish cooler and of course, the rainbow umbrella. We walked up to the 'store' after Ricky served his customers, he smiled and asked us, "fish taco?" Most definitely. And this is how you make an Ensenada-style fish taco. The way Ricky does out of a small cart on Sunset Blvd. "Two please."

Ricky's Fish Tacos, Silver Lake

We watched as he reached into a small cooler. He pulled out a small ziplock bag of fresh fish and took out a few pieces. Ricky, like Joseph of Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada, also uses basa, a Vietnamese catfish from the Mekong river delta. With tongs, he carefully dipped each piece of fish in his special batter. Right before frying, he made sure that any excess batter was shaken off. I've had too many fish tacos that were nearly 50/50 batter and fish – gross. I remembered someone on Chowhound saying that the fish tacos at Tacos Baja Ensenada in East LA, are good, but pack on way too much batter. I couldn't agree more as I ate the fish tacos. There was so much batter that the fish had broken off from the batter itself. If there was ever an audition for a salt shaker position in a Latin band, I might actually have a chance with those babies. TBE, without a doubt though, is still one of LA's best.

Ricky's Fish Tacos, Silver Lake

Ricky's Fish Tacos, Silver Lake

Ricky's Fish Tacos, Silver Lake

Ricky's Fish Tacos, Silver Lake

As you can see, Ricky's got all his settings right. Fresh oil, no overcrowding, no burnt bits and a new cooking technique foreign to me, can only lead to a beautiful product. When the fish is almost ready, he makes a large piercing with his tongs into the center of the battered baby, bringing in a gush of hot oil that not only makes cooking a lot faster, but a nice jolt of flavor. Healthy, by no means. Ricky then pulls out some warmed tortillas from his Igloo and lays the fish down to sleep.

Ricky's Fish Tacos, Silver Lake

Ricky's Fish Tacos, Silver Lake

Ricky's Fish Tacos, Silver Lake

Finely-chopped pico de gallo and cabbage are then added in a proportional manner. Fans of Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada might have to hold themselves back and let the chef do the work. I myself can learn a lesson or two, as I tend to overload my FT's with crema and cabbage.

Ricky's Fish Tacos, Silver Lake

For me, one of the things that differentiated BFTIE and TBE was the cream used. BFTIE was a bit sweeter than TBE's that added a finishing touch to a solid fish taco. I asked him if he used crema mexicana, and he politely said,

"No, I use mayonnaise and milk. It's how we do it in Ensenada." This is the word of the lord.

Ricky's Fish Tacos, Silver Lake

Ricky's Fish Tacos, Silver Lake

Going in for the Kill
For $2.50, Ricky offers a well-endowed fish taco. Not an appropriate adjective to use, but it's a good size. I had to hold the taco with a wide grip above the taco, careful not to poison the cream with my own palms. When I took a bite, I felt a layer of textures:

- the creamy sauce
- the slightly cold pico de gallo and salsa
- the crispy-battered fish
- the warm tortilla

And all of it made sense. So much sense, that I had to order another one.

Ricky's Fish Tacos, Silver Lake

Ricky's Fish Tacos, Silver Lake

We both really enjoyed the fish tacos served by the extremely nice, Ricky. What's not to love about a man earning an honest buck selling something that was passed down from his mother. At one point, Ricky stopped during our conversation. He saw the meter maid on Sunset Blvd. and told us to watch his 'store' as he fed the meter. Awesome.

Ricky offers two types of salsa but both were really delicate in spice. I think all that was needed was a spicy kick to the salsa, to really make this one fish taco to beat. A very nice customer was kind enough to set Ricky up on Twitter and you can find him on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-4 pm. As we left, I quickly texted some friends to hurry on down to try his fish tacos. They all loved it, and I'm sure you will too.

Ricky's Fish Tacos
Corner of Sunset & Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Saturdays & Sundays 12:30 - 4pm
Check his Twitter Before You Go


KennyT said...

hey mate, u eat so well all the time!

Mike said...

The minute the first picture popped up in my google reader, you had me.

Great photography, great subject, great post.

Louise said...

Thanks for writing this up! I live only a few miles away but haven't tried his tacos yet. I LOVE fish tacos, so now I definitely have to go pay Ricky's a visit.

I love eating at the little stands because the people are usually pretty nice and talkative.

pleasurepalate said...

Does he fry his fish just once? Both my experiences at two different fish taco stands in Ensenada double-fried their fish. They'd fry once and than re-fry right before serving.

Tricerapops said...

"this is the word of the lord." - hilarious. i need to try this guy out - but i have to admit, the $2.50 price point is a bit high in my mind, for fish tacos. they looked pretty big in your pictures, so i'll keep an open mind, but so far - for price ($1.50) and flavor, my money is on best fish tacos in ensenada on hillhurst. combine that with BYOB from nearby cap'n cork and it cannot be beat for an afternoon lunch.

weezermonkey said...

I laughed at "well-endowed."

I am 10.

r a m e n i a c said...

nice! dude definitely deserves some love for his awesome tacos. think i'll have to make ricky's my weekend ritual hehe.

EatTravelEat said...

Amazing! The battered fish looks just like the ones I had in Ensenada- crispy and fat looking. So far I have been trying to eat some fish tacos similar to the ones I had in Ensenada but never have gotten a good product.

hanny said...

looks delicious!

streetgourmetla said...

Hey man, this is looking better and better to me. I will most likely not be able 2 get out 4 another week, but I'm going. The mayo mixture is 100% the real deal. Salsas should be excellent though, and basa?Ensenada taqueros use cazon or angelito(shark).Will get out there in another week. Oh yeah.. did he double fry?If not that explains the piercing technique.

Michael said...

I have to remember not to check out your blog right before bedtime. I could use a couple of those fish tacos right now.

As usual, great write up and great photography. Your food pictures inspired me to take pictures of almost every meal. I hope some day my pics will be as good as yours.

One Food Guy said...

Every time I read about your local taco travels, I get more and more jealous. This is the kind of food I crave in Boston; good, honest mobile food.

We've got some great taco places, but they are not carts or trucks.

tara said...

It's amazing that even with the stabbity/rush of oil procedure that the fish still looks incongruously light and not greasy.

I wish more cities had a thriving street food culture.

gabrielaskitchen said...

Oh, you've managed to make me very very nostalgic for Los Angeles with your beautiful photography! I hope that Ricky is still frying tacos next chance I have to visit.

Also- thanks for posting about the one man taco stand. I'm assuming that L.A. has seen a gentrification of the food cart similar to what's happening right now in NYC.

Delicious Coma said...

Ricky is awesome! To me, the fish seems more flavorful than the tacos at BFTE and he knows how to load you up with just the right amount of condiments. Plus he's a super-nice guy.

I hope you had a good day off with your lovely lady!

han nah said...

i can't believe i've never seen him. i used to live four blocks away!!! anyhow, anytime i'm in my old neighborhood, imma try and check him out.

e d b m said...

KennyT, I try my best!

Mike, thank you.

Louise, Ricky is totally nice.

PP, I don't recall him frying it twice – probably b/c it's unnecessary. The batter had a good crunch to it already. Also, he doesn't use any beer in his batter.

Tricerapops, $2.50 is a bit more steep but I was good to go after two fish tacos. And yes, the fish taco and beer combo at BFTIE's is hard to beat. But then again, one can go from Ricky's fish tacos to Good Microbrew.

WeezerMonkey, dirty mind.

Rameniac, haha I totally called you out on eating 3 of them. Whatever I can eat, Rameniac can eat 1-2 more. I'll see you this weekend.

ETE, I remembered these looking the same as the ones I've had in Ensenada as well. And yes they are definitely hard to beat.

Ham, you'll like these for sure.

Bill, where can we find cazon/angelito in Los Angeles? I'm not about to go sharkhunting right now for fish tacos ha. I don't think he double fried.

Michael, thank you for the kind words.

OFG, let us know when you're down and we'll make a list of places for you to eat for sure.

Tara, the fish was not greasy at all. Many places I've eaten at – the batter was just overdone and I got sick of the oily taste to the point where i have to REMOVE the batter.

Gabrielaskitchen, thanks!

D.Coma, sorry I missed you the other day – would love to eat w/ you and the BF.

Han Nah, you moved out of Slake? Go try him soon!

Ivy said...

Looks DELICIOUS! I might have to trek out here someday! Thanks for opening my eyes to it. Btw, great blog! I love the photos too!

e d b m said...

Ivy, hopefully you won't be disappointed.

H. C. said...

thanks for the heads-up; I did love it!

SaintTigerlily said...

So very very jealous. These look like the fish tacos we had in Playa del Carmen for our honeymoon. Nothing like this in NYC. Nothing even comes close.

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