***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.”
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 â€“ 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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