I decided that what with the all of the high-end reviews of late, it was time for me to sing the praises of a low-end food in a low-end joint in a low-end neighborhood.
In short (or long, depending on how verbose I wax), I pick this grey winter December 23rd to honor the glorious fish sandwich at Lou's Drive-in on 16th Ave SW in friendly White Center. Note that I did not say "lovely White Center," as that is patently untrue, but despite the fact that all we ever see in the local press suggests that White Center is a morass of shooters and druggies, it actually IS friendly and has a host of great shops, from the aforementioned Lou's to the Heng Heng Market which possesses everything from preserved eels in tomato sauce (a sight to behold, curled into a little glass jar) to bins of chilis to fresh yucca. And let us not forget McLendon Hardware, where the electrical guy will help you figure out how to wire your new light with out killing yourself and all of the women at the registers call you "honey".
Ok. Back to the sandwich. It comes in a humble soft white bun. There are the usual condiments: tartar, lettuce....But it is, of course, the fish that makes this the delectable, crunchy Sandwich of the Gods that it is. The filet protrudes from either end of the bun, so you know before you've taken a bite that it's not some processed, cut to fit amalgam of fish bits. The ends are crispier than the rest, but still, almost inevitably, the first bite brings a squirt of fish juice into the air. Mind your neighbors. And the taste! Ah! Fresh! I mean, it may have been frozen at some point, but ou couldn't prove it by me. I believe it's cod. (Yes, I know they're overfished. I try to resist, but I'm powerless!) Suffice it to say, it's a light, flakey, totally un-fishey filet.
And now about the breading. In any fried fish sandwich, the breading is key, as is the temperature at which that breading, and hence the fish, are fried. Well, my best guess is that this breading is a mix of fine cornmeal with a bit of flour and some panko. Not much spicing, it's a flavorful breading, but in no way distracts one's tastebuds from the fish. And it's cooked at a heat that leaves the sandwich without a greasy taste or feel, yet perfectly crisp and cooked just so.
There's a for rent sign in the window, so stop by, have a bite, and help keep them in business. Speaking of whom, the folks who run (and possibly own) the place are a very, very kind Asian family. Mom and Pop are usually there, although their daughter is occasionally there as well.