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PHL

Review

Rachel Lerro

Little Fish

$$$$
Written by
Rachel Lerro

If you’ve ever walked through a grocery store and found yourself feeling jealous of whoever’s job it is to try out and approve things like avocado ice cream or hoisin sauce-flavored chips, then you should probably plan a trip to Little Fish. Not because they’re in the business of mass-producing snack food, but because they completely overhaul the menu every single night, which makes you essentially a taste-tester for each dish that comes out of the kitchen.

As the name implies, this small BYOB in Queen Village is a seafood place - as in, every single dish here incorporates water animals in some way. But besides that element, there’s almost nothing else that ties the dishes together. The menu changes daily and you’ll see everything from a miniature ahi tuna poke bowl that looks like it was zapped by the machine from Honey I Shrunk The Kids, to a spicy jambalaya, to a single raw scallop sitting in a pool of Sichuan chili oil and topped with peanuts and cilantro. It’s like the chefs roll a bunch of special dice with ingredients and cuisines listed on them every day, and then somehow put together a menu based on the results.

Rachel Lerro

But since Little Fish is essentially inventing new dishes on what seems like a whim, some things are better than others. Whether you come here for one of their Sunday night tasting menu-only dinners, or just a normal Tuesday date night when everything is served a la carte, you should expect to eat things that range from excellent to just okay. A perfectly seared, crispy skate wing sitting on top of a parmesan broth might be followed by a bland piece of smoked salmon, which is then tailed by a citrusy squid salad with cabbage slaw that’s somehow equally light and flavorful. Even though some of the dishes are unbalanced or boring, though, it’s still exciting to be one of the few people that gets to try them before they’re ultimately chucked into the recipe graveyard at the end of the night.

For a place with such a complex and inventive menu, Little Fish is a surprisingly easy spot to grab a meal. The open kitchen takes up most of the room and although all 10 or so tables are usually filled with couples on their 300th date, drinking a $14 bottle of pinot grigio from the back of their fridge and sharing some oysters, it’s still usually possible to get a reservation the day of. And while the portions can be pretty small, everything is reasonably priced - the most expensive dishes on the menu are around $20 and the five-course tasting menu is $48 per person. It’s a place you can go back to over and over again without getting bored of the same few dishes on repeat, and unlike hoisin sauce-flavored chips, most of the creations that come out of the kitchen here will make you happy you volunteered to be their taste tester for the night.

Food Rundown

As the menu changes every single night, it’s tough to predict what you may see on any given visit. However, here are some examples of dishes that have come out of the kitchen.

Hamachi, Avocado, Ssamjang, Puffed Wild Rice, Kombu Oil
Raw Scallop, Ginger, Cilantro, Sichuan Chili Oil, Peanuts, Crispy Shallots
Shima Aji, Pickled Rhubarb, Peas, Banyuls Vinaigrette
Crispy Pan-Roasted Skate, Broccoli Rabe, Beech Mushroom, Parmesan Broth
Cured Verlasso Salmon, Chickpea, Cucumber, Mint, Pickled Shallot
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