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From the minute the Koreatown restaurant opened last summer, the place has been jumping. A chic, modern space, filled with hipsters, families, even fifty-somethings, the popular raw bar and seafood eatery draws patrons of all ages and ethnicities. And why not? Who wouldn’t want to feel part of the “in-crowd” – those in the know who desire freshly shucked oysters, scallop carpaccio or delicately fried soft shelled crab?
Three of us arrived on a Thursday evening around 7:45 and the wait was 20-30 minutes for a table. Luckily, we had a reservation, and glided past the envious onlookers, waiting for their text message that their table was ready.
Even if you have to wait for a table, the bar is lively and the mixologists are ready to please.
EMC Seafood is a contrast of rustic and panache, edgy and suave. From the décor, to the food, it’s a contant distinction in flavors, colors and experiences.
We started with two types of oysters on the half shell – Fanny Bay and Beausoleil – served in a metal dish, like a cake pan, atop a mound of salt. We paired the oysters with Veuve Cliquot champagne in crystal flutes. With a dozen selections of oysters and clams on the menu, it’s a good place to start your dining adventure at EMC.
We moved on to Hokkaido scallop carpaccio with yuzu and ponzu sauce and the yellowtail ceviche with lime, shallots, cilantro and jalepeños. The presentation of the scallop was soft and delicate, much like the flavor and texture of the dish. I would go back to EMC for this dish alone. The ceviche was refreshing and light with just enough zing from the peppers.
The menu offers items from the raw bar, starters, shell fish, whole fish and meat entrees, followed by a few sides. We selected the crispy head-on shrimp and soft shell crab as our next two dishes. The shrimp were shell-on, dusted in a crunchy yet light batter and served with sea salt, garlic, onions and soy sauce. The softer part of the shell was edible letting you enjoy the crispy outer coating, absorbing all of the flavors.
The soft shell crab was a large portion, perfectly fried and served with a delicious ponzu sauce. Both of these dishes were served in the aforementioned “cake pans” – giving you permission to eat with your fingers, yet sip a delicious Chateau Montelena chardonnay at the same time.
After the two fried items, we moved back to the sashimi selections and ordered yellowtail with jalepeno, a refreshing, palate-cleansing dish. All of the raw fish choices are the ultimate in freshness and taste. I recommend any of the items.
Manila clams in an abalone broth is another exquisite dish with soft taro noodles, green onion and cilantro. The soft and delicate flavors are a striking difference to the crunchy, fried items.
To finish off our meal, we selected the large lobster roll, cut into three pieces. The 4-5” roll was stuffed with buttery, sweet lobster and the three bite roll was perfectly rich and satisfying.
The friendly staff at EMC ushered us to the bar for a night cap, where the bartenders shook up a few libations for us to try. (I think they had a bit of a crush on my 22 year old daughter). It was a fun, enjoyable evening, and the perfect opportunity to initiate our Uber account.
Owner Michael Kwan and his team hit a homerun when they formulated their game plan for EMC. The restaurant works on all levels, offering four top tables, large group settings or singles sitting at a long bar. The arrangement provides opportunities to meet people or have an intimate dinner. Now I know why the place has become so popular. Kwan may have another EMC Seafood opening soon – stay tuned!
EMC Seafood is located at 3550 W. 6th St. at Mariposa, (213)351-9988. www.emcseafood.com.
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