Formerly a deserted Japanese (?) Steak (??) House (???) along a more upscale area of Strip-Club Row, the massive missive that is Seafood Island, 4700 W. Reno Ave., is an extravagant piece of Las Vegas-in-a landmass floating among the trash vortices that line the busy street. Driving by there a few times a week on the way to and from the Indian Clinic, I have become so intrigued by the usually-empty parking lot and the row of 30% off signs that I decided to dock my trace-amounts of hunger there for a quietly-festive birthday lunch last week. Land…ho?
Once one walks past the intimidating horse statues that keep quiet sentry over the property of the Island, inside you’re immediately greeted by a caustic life-size pirate ship and a moderate fountain with one of those monstrous spinning marble spheres in it as the restaurant’s illuminated logo maintains a steady-pace on the vertigo-inducing high ceilings. It’s a moving tribute to Poseidon, Aquaman and the hard-working pirates who stalk the Somali waters, all at the same time.
At least I thought so.
Seated at my table, the overhead lamp projected a bright, dazzling light into an otherwise mostly-darkened eatery; I thumbed clumsily through the deliciously basic menu and was unusually taken aback by the interesting mix of mouth-moistening seafood for such a brutally land-locked restaurant. From the usual fare of fried baskets featuring calamari and catfish to the more sophisticated swag of blue crab and manila clams, if you’re a seafood lover, they’ve definitely got a Sea World tank full of tasty variety.
As far as edible mollusks go, in the past few years I’ve, of course, feasted on the omnipresent mussels at various Chinese buffets and, once, even enjoyed a buttery and bacony helping of a gorgeous plate of clams casino in Baltimore. Sadly, however, that’s the grand extent of my rackin’ and crackin’ knowledge; but, with the menu practically dripping with sand-crawlers and mud-trawlers of all sorts, it was definitely time to shuck and awe once more.
While admittedly an absolute waste of their total aphrodisiac powers, I requested a half-order of Steamed Oysters on the Half-Shell ($10.00) for a very lean, very pert appetizer complete with cocktail sauce, horseradish and a provocative Asian-inspired dipper. Shells open and exposed to the world, the oysters were delectably chewy with a sangreous taste not unlike that of a blood-infused gummy-bear. You either like that or you don’t. I tend to love it, so the steamed oysters were a true land-lubbing hit, matey.
As soon as they were mostly finished off, with a toot-toot and a beep-beep my main course pulled into port – the No-Head Boiled Shrimp Bag ($12.00), loaded with plenty of shrimps coated in a very fine hot ‘n’ spicy powder and boiled in a large bag with a bit of corn on the cob, some sliced potatoes and one whole hard-boiled egg. (Sure, to someone mildly unfamiliar with the ways of the sea, such as I, the egg seemed a bit strange at first but, as I say to myself when I typically get in predicaments like this, when in Atlantis, do as the Atlantians do.)
Roughly tearing off the thin skin and multiple legs, biting into that plump shrimp was an oceanic taste sensation with the slightly-burning powder gelling nicely with the sweet bottom-feeder meat. Call me crazy from drinking salt-water on my own time, but I’m actually beginning to think boiled shrimps might even be better than fried. Regardless of style, the shrimps were hella-plentiful and heavenly delicious, with the rotund assortment of goodies in my grab-bag quite a great pairing with those headless beauties, hard-boiled egg mercifully included.
As I wiped my mouth with the obviously foreign (and probably left over from the last restaurant) Hot-Cold Towel, I looked at my lunch-time plunder, boxing what could be boxed up and evocatively tore off the egregious lobster bib. Sitting back for a moment, sipping the last of my ice water, I recalled the words of a long dead bard of the seas who once sang proudly that “Yes, life is better down where its wetter, take it from me.”
Oh, how right you were you dirty little crab…how right you were. Cómpralo ya!