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The Dish: Malibu seafood serves up quality

Pictured are the steamed black mussels at Malibu Seafood. Photos by Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media
Chris Bashaw, Assistant Editor
2:44 pm PDT July 21, 2014

On the northbound side of Pacific Coast Highway, just five miles south of Point Dume, be sure to look for a smiling lobster happily waving a claw at you from a chaise lounge.

That’s the scene illustrated on above the doors to Malibu Seafood, a Malibu eatery for approximately 40 years where some of the city’s best casual seafood dining can be found.

Jon Christensen, half-partner of the restaurant, said one reason for Malibu Seafood’s continued success can likely be attributed to the restaurant’s constant search for the highest quality seafood products.

“One company may have one or two good items and we’ll select those, so we generally buy from a variety of source,” Christensen said. “We strictly buy our Chilean sea bass and tuna from a sushi supplier, we get our swordfish from another supplier and get our salmon from another supplier — so we use a variety of sources and we always try to search for and buy the best products available.”

To showcase the fruits of the restaurant’s ongoing search for high quality products, Christensen said sauces and salt are used sparingly, and almost always served on the side.

“We find that we don’t have to overcoat our fish with sauce and things like that,” he said. “We try to not drown everything in salt and sauce and we try to serve sauces on the side and because it’s more about the quality of the product that we want people to notice.”

One dish where the quality of the product means everything to Malibu Seafood is its steamed black mussels in a homemade garlic butter broth. 

“Generally, we get our mussels from wherever they’re best,” said Christensen. “This week it’s Penn Cove, another time we’ll like the mussels in Santa Barbara and sometimes we’ll get New Zealand mussels because the water’s too warm over here – so it’s all over the board and we don’t always get them from the same place.”

In June, however, Malibu Seafood experienced a shortage of mussels, much to the dismay of many customers who found it to be their summertime go-to dish.

“We rejected so much because it just wasn’t good enough,” said Christensen, who was at one time a sport and commercial fisherman operating for 20 years out of the Malibu Pier. “Last month, we just couldn’t get good black mussels, so we were out of them half of the month because they just weren’t good.”

Served with a sourdough roll, a few slices of lemon and a parsley garnish, this item serves as one of the best examples of how a marriage between simplicity and quality can result in an excellent seafood dish. 

Other dishes not to miss:

• Squid steak sandwich — This dish features a wild Pacific squid pressed into a grilled steak and served tomato slices, lettuce, red onion and homemade tartar sauce. 

• Fish and chips — This dish is Malibu Seafood’s most popular. Strips of Alaskan cod are proudly fried in a homemade, family recipe batter and served with a homemade tartar sauce and steak frie