Ever since Stevie’s on the Strip closed, there has been a dearth of fried catfish in Studio City. Thank God the Fish Trap opened a few months ago in an unassuming strip mall to save us. This is the Dorsey family’s first establishment, but they are already pros. They used to hold an annual family fish fry and the food was so good that everyone told them they should open a restaurant. I would like to pause here and thank every single one of their relatives.
Fish Trap is set up like the fish markets that dot the South LA and Long Beach areas. The seafood, which is always fresh, never frozen, is sold by the pound. They also cook the fish of your choosing to order. You have several options — grilled or fried, and a variety of sauces and seasoning. Although we have not yet delved deeply into their menu, the food we had on our first visit was unbelievable. To be honest, I may never order anything but catfish anyways.
There are a few soul food restaurants in the valley, but no one has perfected the New Orleans-style cornmeal-crusted fried catfish we love so much. Until now. The fish is mild, and somehow lighter, with a tight crust that is delicate and almost grease-free. My fingers did not even leave grease stains on the paper napkins. The tilapia in a lemon butter sauce was also flavorful and not too fishy. All of their sauces, including the remoulade and tartar sauce, are made fresh in-house.
The side dishes, which are also made in-house, live up to standards set by the fish. The hush puppies are made with jalapeno, which is not that noticeable at first, really packs a punch after the third bite or so. The coleslaw is tossed in a lime-cilantro vinagrette instead of being weighed down with mayonnaise. The red beans and rice are also lightened up, without the burn of andouille sausage. You can add their special hot sauce, though, which is similar to Crystal.
I can’t sign off without talking about the chocolate fudge cake. I am obsessed with this cake. Everything is also baked at Fish Trap, and the freshness of the cake makes it superior to any other. It is layered with cream cheese frosting, which you either love or hate. They also sell cookies and cobbler. That’s right — cobbler.
The sign is a little hard to read, so you can easily miss it. Fish Trap is on the southeast corner of Moorpark and Laurel Canyon. They are open seven days a week. They also cater and deliver. Website.