If we’ve learned anything from Wes Anderson movies, it’s that it’s OK to obsess over details. The people at Ceviche Project understand this. Because when there’s real substance beneath the style, that extra flair makes everything better.
This seafood spot on Hyperion in Silver Lake packs a lot into a tiny space. It doesn’t look like much from the street - there’s a good chance you’ll walk by it at least once - but inside, it feels like a Steve Zissou fever dream, with a green-and-white marble bar, and bright brass shelves surrounding a seafood case loaded with scallops, oysters, and snow crab claws. There’s Latin music playing on a record player, and the chef preparing your food is wearing an all-white uniform like a naval captain (no red beanies, though).
All of this could give you the sense that you’re in the most fastidiously designed cruise ship galley, until you taste the food. Because once you have your first bite (preferably of the elaborate scallop shooter with uni) it all starts to work. Don’t let all the flourishes fool you - there is some truly great seafood being served here.
Like those scallop shooters we just mentioned. We start every meal here with them, and we always add uni, which not only brings a brininess to the smooth taste of the scallop, but balances out the cilantro, pomegranate seed, and serrano pepper toppings. There’s a good chance that you’ll order two, and then tack on a couple more at the end of the meal in lieu of dessert. We also get to the snow crab claws early in the meal - the meat is tender, and there’s an excellent chile de arbol salsa on the side that’s next-level spicy.
Most of the ceviche here is far from traditional. The best - the tai snapper - is diced right behind the bar, then tossed with pineapple, carrots, jicama, and cancha (toasted corn kernels). That means the fish isn’t cooked in the citrus juice, which makes it the focal point of the dish - though the salt, spice, and crunch of the cancha aren’t far behind. And the Hawaiian kanpachi tostada may be our favorite thing on the menu. The fish is layered on top of an avocado mousse we wish they served in a basket with some chips, then topped with grapefruit, trout roe, and nasturtium the chef picks from a plant behind the bar.
There is some stuff we like a little less, namely the vegetables on the menu, which feel like an afterthought. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the prices. This is the kind of food you can eat a lot of, so if you don’t stop yourself from ordering a couple more tostadas or scallop shooters, things can get expensive very quickly.
But you get what you pay for. And yes, part of what you’re paying for at Ceviche Project is the space, but if the food wasn’t equally great, you’d probably never come back. Instead, you’ll find yourself thinking up reasons to return - not just for first dates, but for third, seventh, and one-hundred-twelfth ones, too. And while Bill Murray hasn’t popped up here yet, you get the feeling that it’s only a matter of time before he does.
The best kind of shot we’ve done recently. Add the uni - it’s $3 more, but balances out the creaminess of the raw scallop perfectly.
When you’re done with these claws, it’s going to look like you’ve committed war crimes against crabs - when really, you just did your best to scrape out every last bit of the excellent meat.
The only true miss on the menu - it’s fine, but why would you want a raw mushroom salad when there’s all this great fresh seafood just chilling in the case? The answer is you probably don’t.
Do not, under any circumstances, skip this dish - it represents all that we like about this place. Between the trout roe, fish, avocado cream, and grapefruit, it looks like it would be a muddled mess. But you can taste each component on its own, and each is fantastic.
People talk a lot about whether pineapple belongs on pizza. But no one talks about whether pineapple belongs in ceviche. Maybe because it’s so clear the answer is yes, it certainly does.