Grub Guide

It’s Alive! Six Places to Eat Still Wriggling Dishes in L.A.

Somedays, you have to fight your dinner
Somedays, you have to fight your dinner Photo: Travis Issacs/Flickr

There’s fresh. And then there’s still moving. If eating delicacies that are still living–or at least appear as if they still are–happens to be up your alley, Los Angeles has you covered. Tucked into disparate corners of the city are quite a few places to scarf down seafood while it’s still wriggling, possibly still alive or in some sort of strange death throes while sliding down your gullet. Since it’s time to get into the Halloween mood around here, come with us as we enjoy six such places to get your grub on as it twists and turns beneath you. Enjoy our guide to where to find still wriggling, undead dishes in L.A.

Jae Bu Do: Three seafood-heavy options for a grill-it-yourself barbecue feast tempt you at this pumping Korean restaurant on Western, with fresh clams, scallops, and shrimp arriving among the many delicious dishes that steam and sputter before your eyes. But it’s the undulating abalone, grinding and writhing out of its shell when placed on the grill, that may keep your eyes open through the steady stream of soju and Hite lager. Unless, that is, you make it to the firm, squirming hagfish, which hit the grill and wiggle like the skinned, bright pink earthworms these crunchy, muscle-bound critters most resemble. 474 N Western Ave. Koreatown; 323-467-2900.

Plan Check: This new West L.A. hot-spot may be known for its innovative burgers and supreme fried chicken, but it also presents a mesmerizing trick in its presentation of albacore with rock shrimp. Improving on the surprising flutter of bonito flakes found in a traditional side of Japanese agedashi, the fish arrives covered in a confetti of cured, dried fish shavings which sway, flap, and flicker in the breeze, making the entire dish look as though it’s breathing. 1800 Sawtelle Blvd. West Los Angeles; 310-288-6500.

Quality Seafood Inc.: This sprawling fish market teems with a wide gamut of live oysters and clams waiting to be snatched up, pried apart, and eaten raw with a squeeze of lemon, while live crabs and lobsters get pulled from their tanks for an on-the-spot steam. But for uni lovers, it’s best to try your hand at a live urchin, which the staff will crack open for you to ingest at a nearby picnic table. As you scoop out its fresh, rich priveys, the spiked mace’s sharp tines hypnotically wave, while more motivated urchins may even crawl across your table like some sort of medley of “Under the Sea” and the final scene of Hannibal. 130 S. Internatl Boardwalk, Redondo Beach; 310-316-8782.

Wassada: From Masan to Hwal A Kwang Jang to Gardena’s Chomak, L.A. is speckled with Korean restaurants brimming in tanks of live seafood and fish. At Wassada, the arrival of fresh sea-life like sea snails, sashimi, oysters, and abalone doesn’t seem to stop, mirroring the determination to keep going as found in the sannakji, small live octopi taken from a tank and butchered on the spot. The twisting, struggling limbs present an active challenge for diners to down these creamy tentacles and raw bits while the still animated arms fight from getting in your mouth much like Bugs Bunny trying to stiff-arm a boiling pot of broth. 377 N. Western Ave.; Koreatown; 323-464-3006.

Pacific Fish Center: A seafood palace on the Redondo Pier with spectacular seaside views, live Dungeness crabs and lobsters plucked straight from the tank are the main attraction here. But if twitching tentacles is what you crave, the Korean-spiced restaurant also offers sweet, live head-on shrimp to suck down or, like this family, simply prod with chopsticks for signs of life. Make sure to order “sashimi style” and they’ll even fry the heads for later enjoyment. 131 Fishermans Wharf, Redondo Beach; 310-374-8420.

Nyotaimori/Naked Sushi: We’re not sure we can recommend an annual event dubbed “AsianModelPalooza,” which returns to Downtown at Deja Vu on November 10. But if you’re dying to scratch cannibalism nyotaimori, or “body-sushi” off of your bucket list, this may be your earliest, cheapest option to eat raw fish off of a naked internet “actress.” (And we do mean cheapest.) Just make sure you have all of your shots. Full details online.

It’s Alive! Six Places to Eat Still Wriggling Dishes in L.A.