food road trip: blue stingray...strip mall seafood!
While I didn't go direct, I now find myself making a visit back to NC, either way, it was a long flight and an hour delay in Dallas/Ft. Worth didn't exactly add to the fun. Still, here I am in the hot and humid South, in summer. Ugh, what was I thinking! Still here I be and what better way to kick things off than with a bunch of deep fried stuff. I mean what goes better with really hot heat and thick humidity than something battered, fried and greasy.
Lucky for me(?), there are a myriad of choices nearby to choose from. At least that what my internet search has turned up. Since I don't come back here that often, it is interesting to see what if any new places have opened. Which I will have to say, on this side of town, they don't change too much and many of the spots are ones that were around when I was a kid. Still, I come across a seafood spot just around the corner....at the strip mall! After perusing their menu online, Blue Stingray Seafood seems to be exactly what I am looking for.
Looking at their website they seem to have an interesting story, but when I get there, neither of the two folks working look like an old Vietnamese couple. Maybe they took the day off?
They offer a variety of fishes--tilapia, flounder, catfish--along with shrimp and the option of Cajun boils with crab and crawfish. I decide to skip the boil as I'm not a crawfish fan and crab is a lot of work for little meat. I settle in on the combo platters and go old school.
Fried flounder with popcorn shrimp with hush puppies, collard greens and green beans. I also paid an upcharge to get an additional four pieces of regular sized shrimp. All total it came to $11 and you definitely get plenty for the money. Plus, it is fried to order so it is hot and crispy and pretty good. The shrimp was nicely done and while the big weren't all that big, they were still plump and juicy as was the popcorn version.
The flounder is a decent sized piece covered in cornmeal breading. Not too thick or thin, though might could use a little bit of black pepper in the mix. But the fish was mostly fresh with a little bit of the earthy flavor you can get from a fish like flounder or catfish. Add in some of their house made tartar sauce and they are both pretty good to go.
The hush puppies were slightly overcooked but still better than any one I've had in SF. I went for the green sides to offset all the fried stuff (ha!) and both were cooked up with bits of bacon. The collards had a few to many stems, but otherwise, both were tasty and seasoned well.
After my first trip, I decided I needed to try them again but go totally different in fish prep.
Grilled Cajun tilapia with a sweet potato fries, cobbette and fried biscuit (whuuuttt!). This was around lunch time and evidently they had a special going on then as this also came with a drink all for--$11. Yes, a lot of food for a good price, again.
Cooking wise, the tilapia was a bit over grilled, but it comes with a moderately spicy Cajun like sauce that does add moisture back to the fish which is two large fillets. Add in the tartar sauce again and it all works. I could, however, have used a bit more kick to Cajun. Sides were also done well and that was a bunch o' fries. As for the fried "biscuit" let's just say it was exactly what you think it is, a blob of dough that has been deep fried. Or a white dough bread version of a hush puppy. I'll just consider it a wash since I had enough butter to compensate everything else it lacked.
As far as quick seafood spots in the area go, it definitely beats Captain D's or Long John Silver for sure. You don't get the feeling this is all frozen trucked in stuff. Don't know for sure it isn't, but it doesn't matter. Outside of a little over cooking here and there, they do a good job with the fish and don't skimp on the portion sizes. Combine that with some wallet friendly pricing and the place is a real catch! Sorry, couldn't resist. But for a tiny spot on the corner of a strip mall on the north side of town, it was kind of fish-tastic and really hooked me. Ha! See, I got a million of 'em!