Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Joyce's Seafood and Steaks - Robb Walsh

Joyce's raw oysters are outstanding. They're select oysters that have been kept ice-cold, and they're served within seconds of being shucked. The first dozen were briny, delectably sweet and not much bigger than bite-size. Since you pretty much have to put the whole oyster in your mouth, most people prefer their raw oysters petite. The sweet taste comes from the sugary layer of "fat" oysters put on during cold weather.

We were disappointed to learn the Gulf red snapper wasn't available. I've had Joyce's version in the past, and it's excellent. But at least you can rely on Joyce's not to substitute something else and call it red snapper.

Mahimahi has become the most popular name for dolphinfish, regardless of where it's caught. The dolphinfish is a large iridescent green and blue fish that's native to the Gulf of Mexico, among other places. It's known as dorado in Spanish and is common in Mexico.

Joyce's fried oysters don't look like any I've had before. They're a light golden color and amazingly juicy. After eating a few off my friend's plate, I started to fantasize about a poor boy made with these oysters. And I realized that Joyce's fried oysters have ruined me for all others.

We have all year to eat cooked oyster dishes, but we have only a few months to eat them raw.

The gumbo at Joyce's is very good, and I love the fact that they serve poor boys here. It keeps the place feeling casual. No matter how you're dressed, you'd feel at home hanging out at the bar, drinking beer and eating a sandwich. Not only is Joyce's Seafood and Steaks one of the best seafood restaurants in the city, it's also a wonderfully relaxed place.

Joyce's Seafood and Steaks
Details: Dozen raw oysters: $6.95 +
Fried oysters: $10.95 ++
Barbecued shrimp appetizer: $7.95
Mahimahi: $16.95
Striped bass: $18.95
Filet mignon: $23.95
Where: 6415 San Felipe, 713-975-9902. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays.

Shanghai River
Chicken in hot garlic sauce $9.25 +++
Where: 2407 Westheimer, 713-528-5528

Go for the gusto and get it hot and spicy. The dish has tender broccoli heads and water chestnuts simmering in a dark garlic sauce and comes with a huge bowl of fluffy, sticky rice. If you get it to go, be sure to ask for extra chile sauce. You won't be sorry

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