Pro Tips on Ordering Seafood in a Restaurant

Mohamed Farzad

It’s time to propose to your fiancée. Imagine booking a private dining room in a fine dining restaurant where the house specialty is not steaks. Instead of slabs of red meat, you are treated to a wealth of treasures from the sea.

The rules for ordering seafood are different from that of other meats. There is an expectation that diners should know how to order. But staring at the menu, you are no longer sure.

To help you effortlessly navigate seafood menus, our experts have provided a few useful tips to make ordering at a seafood restaurant easier for you. Take note of these tips, whether for an upcoming marriage proposal, a family dinner, or a corporate function.

Get suggestions from the wait staff

Have you ever browsed through a menu at a grill restaurant and ended up scratching your head at the names of the dishes listed? You are not alone. It is a standard method for dining establishments to give their dishes names that make them sound more sophisticated or foreign.

What is a salloum, ortreliche? Find the best dishes by making the wait staff your best friend during your night out. With their help and suggestions, you will undoubtedly feel more confident about your orders.

They can also inform you on how dishes are prepared. By letting the wait staff know about any allergies, you can better decide which dishes are safe for your health. Wait staff want to make your dining experience enjoyable and may suggest alternatives or inform the chef of your sensitivities.

Know about the local fishes

If you can, do some research before you go. Restaurants near a popular fishing area tend to take advantage of what’s in season. As such, at certain times of the year, they may offer dishes that make use of seasonal ingredients.

Living in Dubai, the steamy summer months between June and September are the best times to enjoy queenfish and sailfish. For king mackerel and tuna, the best times to find them on menus are between October and May. If crab or lobster is what you are looking for, it may be worth determining when the peak season is to get the freshest harvest.

An alternative is to check the menu and ask the wait staff. The catch of the day typically includes ingredients from their newest delivery. It may be worth adding to your order if you want to gauge their skill and creativity, especially when it comes to seasonal items.

Consider the specials

Some people erroneously believe that specials include seafood or ingredients that may go bad soon. That is not the case, especially in high-end restaurants. There are many reasons behind the specials, depending on the restaurant’s definition or local regulations.

At times, specials are similar to catch of the day dishes. Both make use of the freshest seasonal ingredients. Menu offerings may be labeled as specials if the elements are neither common in the area nor available throughout the year.

Specials can sometimes refer to menu items that are not permanent. The chef, perhaps, wants to experiment with an uncommon species of mushroom or a new preparation technique. Although the dishes may be different from their tried and tested offerings, they provide loyal patrons something new to try out.

Trial dishes may take more time to prepare than the other dishes on the menu. As a result, preparation times may be longer, or the meals may be priced higher than non-specials.

The label may also refer to dishes that the establishment is planning to add to their current menu. By offering it as a special, the management can see how well the recipe performs with customers and make adjustments. If you are feeling adventurous, specials may be worth trying out.

Be cautious of raw seafood

A plate of raw oysters, ceviche, or a few bites of sushi may be tempting, but only order these if you already have experience eating these and if you have total confidence in the restaurant. If it’s your first time to try raw seafood in a restaurant, ask them how these are prepared. The best restaurants won’t take offense, and would happily answer.

Preparing and storing raw seafood requires following procedures and standards to the tee. Committing mistakes in this arena is not an option, as this could lead to people getting sick.

Improper preparation techniques, substandard storage equipment, or other unhygienic practices in the restaurant can result in food contamination and an increase in bacteria. The chances of getting sick due to food poisoning rise exponentially when you eat raw food that has not been properly prepared or stored. As much as you can, stick to thoroughly cooked food until you are confident enough to order it at your favorite restaurant.

Know the food source

Asking the waiter or management about where they get the food from may be an uncommon practice among customers, but it may be necessary in some cases. When dining in a seafood restaurant for the first time, there is no way of knowing the food source and how the dishes are prepared. This can make a difference, especially when it comes to raw food.

For instance, some farm-raised fish contain a lot of chemicals to make them grow bigger at a faster rate. Consuming seafood pumped full of antibiotics may not be good for your health. Unless you are dining in a reputable restaurant specializing in seafood, it would be best to know as much about what you are eating before you order.

Know when the delivery comes

Most restaurants get their supplies only on certain days, especially if they are located far from fishing ports or coastal areas. In one restaurant, it could be on a Thursday to coincide with a boost in diners during the weekend, while another may choose Monday to start the week with a fresh batch. Whatever the case may be, knowing when the supplies arrive is advantageous for you and your guests as this lets you know when seafood is freshest.

If you know the delivery days for seafood, make it a point to dine there on the day itself or the day after. This may not be standard practice in high-end or established seafood restaurants, but it pays to be sure you can taste the freshest ingredients the place can offer.

Dining in a seafood restaurant is always a treat, but ordering can be a headache. With these tips, you can feel more confident in choosing the best seafood dishes. Apply them during your next night out and see how much it can change your dining experience.

 

Mohamed Farzad
Author: Mohamed Farzad

Mohamed Farzad is the Director of Nippon Group of Companies. One of the Nippon Hospitality Division’s premium projects is Doors Freestyle Grill, a premium steakhouse and international fusion cuisine-lifestyle dining concept set across the spellbinding Al Seef heritage district in Dubai.

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