The Cuisine Scene
King's Fish House
Victoria Gardens, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
before I started school, my grandfather entertained me for hours with
magical stories about long-ago castles in his native France and the
ladies and brave knights who inhabited them.
He wasnt my
real grandfather, I later discovered, since he married my widowed
grandmother long before I came along. But that didnt matter to me.
Wed listen to symphonies on the radio and hed point out the different
instruments and comment on their different sounds, then hed place my
feet on the top of his, hold out his arms for mine and whisk me across
the floor in a waltz. I adored him.
The only problem
was his weird taste in food. I knew it was weird because my grandmother
and mother couldnt get out of the kitchen fast enough when hed dig
the smelliest cheeses and pickled herring out of the icebox. Id brave
it, though. If my grandfather loved those weird things, Id love them
too. To this day I love tangy pickled herring in wine sauce on crispy
crackers. But no matter how I tried, I could never get a raw oyster
past my lips.
In later years, Id occasionally try a fried oyster. It didnt seem quite so repulsive when it crunched instead of jiggled.
In the early
eighties, a horror movie, Cat People, came out and I loved the
ambience, the creepiness, of a dark, rainy New Orleans. When John Heard
took newcomer Nastassja Kinski to an oyster place in the French Quarter
and taught her how to eat them, I considered trying them again. Then,
in the late nineties, my son represented his software company during a
Comdex computer expo in Las Vegas. We met for dinner at a seafood
grotto and ordered oysters on the half shells as appetizers. The
iridescent shells sitting on chipped ice looked so pretty that I
couldnt wait to try them. Ever since that night Ive loved them and so
does my son. The only problem is theyre so hard to find.
adventurer and friend, came to the rescue. Not only did she suggest a
place to try, but she picked me up and whisked me off to Victoria
Gardens, an outdoor mall in Rancho Cucamonga alive with shops, street
vendors, and people strolling the central square where a fountain
splashed next to a running creek. The spicy aroma of pizza, garlic, and
probably a smelly cheese or two wafted in the air, and all the trees
strung with lights felt magical and reminded me of the stories my
grandfather told me long ago.
We headed straight for at Kings Fish House on North Mainstreet.
checking the entire menu, which changes sometimes daily, the manager
told me, I spotted the oysters. Home of the fresh, topless, salty
oysters, the menu says, a sampler of six for $12.95 and 12 for $25.75.
Theyre shucked to order and the sampler includes one of several
different kinds, the Gigamoto and Sinku from British Columbia, Hama
Hama from Washington, Rappahannock River from Virginia, Stingray from
Maryland, Watch Hill from Rhode Island, and Island Creek from
Massachusetts. I had no idea. I thought an oyster was an oyster, but
Chad, one of the managers, explained that the Eastern oyster is more
briney, as it stays open underwater and filters more water. The Western
oyster is more meaty because it uses its muscle because it closes when
its out of the water. The plate arrives with a lemon, grated
horseradish, seafood sauce and vinegar and oil with shallots as
condiments. I dabbed a bit of the horseradish and seafood sauce on mine
and they were delicious.
only one little section of the menu. They have everything from fish
tacos for $7.75 to trout, calamari, catfish, salmon, sea scallops, 1
1/2 lb Alaskan King Crab Legs for $42.95 to 2 Australian Lobster Tails
for $46.95. You can have your seafood broiled, grilled or fried.
One of their
Regional Specials for now is the Pacific Swordfish, now being caught
beyond the Channel islands off the Southern California coast. They
offer it grilled or crusted with parmesan and sauteed over fresh
spinach, or with pasta for $18.95, or served with ratatouille and
rosemary potatoes for $23.95.
The have gumbo,
Louisiana-style, for $15.45, jambalaya, or Southern fried catfish for
$16.75, sesame seared Ahi tuna with shitake ginger cream sauce for
$24.95, and even a New England Clambake with a 1 1/2 lb Maine lobster,
steamed Manila clams, mussels, red potatoes and fresh corn on the cob
for $36.95. Ive seen it on TV and its something I definitely want to
their fish fresh each day and cook everything to order, including their
French fries. Some of the sides are sautéed fresh spinach, garlic
mashed potatoes, coleslaw, jasmine rice, ratatouille, macaroni and
cheese, fries, corn, new potatoes and baked potatoes.
We had the
oysters, although I have to say that I polished off most of them as
they werent Kathryns favorite. But I didnt feel too badly because
she dug into the crusty bread and fresh butter.
She ordered the
blackened salmon, and for sides, she had the baked potato and sautéed
spinach. The salmon was tender, she told me, but had a little too much
thyme for her taste.
Although I was
tempted by the Louisiana catfish, I decided on the combo platter of
shrimp, scallops, and a whitefish, either halibut or cod. Although its
typically served with fries and coleslaw, I could exchange them for any
other sides. When the platter arrived, the fries were under the seafood
and I thought theyd be soggy. To my surprise, they were crispy and I
asked our server why. They use Panko bread crumbs, he told me, which
are a coarser texture than ordinary breadcrumbs, and make a lighter and
crunchier coating. He said they dont soak up as much oil, so the fries
underneath would stay crisp. I just know that the seafood, even fried,
tasted fresh. The coleslaw had a little more vinegar that I like, so
next time Ill try the corn, or perhaps the ratatouille.
If youre with
someone who doesnt care for seafood, they also offer several pasta
dishes and chicken and steak dishes, such as sautéed breast of chicken
for $16.75 and chicken parmigiana for $16.95.
Their soups, usually about four, are made fresh each day.
And they havent
forgotten children. Not only is there a kids menu, but its also an
activity book with washable tattoos, puzzles, and they encourage
children to visit the lobster tank and watch the oyster shucking at the
Ill certainly be back. So many things I want to try.
Kings Fish House
12427 North Mainstreet
Rancho Cucamonga 909-803-1280
Sunday & Monday 11:30am-9pm
Friday & Saturday 11:30am-11pm