The key to seafood is fresh, fresh fresh. No “packed-in-ice-and-shipped-in-cargo” will do. The best seafood smells of the ocean, and is eaten in sight of the shores from whence it came.
So your pursuit of the best seafood begins with getting yourself to a coastline. But which coastline? You need to be in a place with an existing culinary history of treasuring ingredients and respecting flavors. Anybody can bread and fry a piece of fish, serve it with tartar sauce and be done. At that point, you could be eating anything at all under those toppings, and you’d never know the difference.
No. Keep it simple. Let freshness and quality speak for itself. Honor the source. Spices and sauces should augment the natural flavors, not overwhelm them. The best seafood, and the best seafood restaurants, allow the quality of the ingredients to carry the dish.
At Gessato, we believe in respecting the natural environment and our fragile ocean ecosystems. We believe that it’s possible to enjoy the best foods in the world, sourced responsibly and sustainably. We believe that a bit of education can help us consume responsibly, and protect these resources for future generations.
For a truly decadent seafood experience, visit the world’s top seafood cities and indulge your tastebuds.
Durban, South Africa
Durban is a busy port city on the Indian Ocean and the third-largest city in South Africa. The local history of influences from Africa, India, and Europe make it a unique destination and create a distinctive local cuisine.
With flavors that span the world’s palates as well as fostering exciting fusions, Durban has a thriving restaurant scene. And adventurous travelers can book seafaring adventures that involve catching, cleaning, and cooking your own fish right on the beach in the local style. The city lives and breathes on the ocean, and lucky visitors dine on it as well.
Representative restaurants: Jack Salmon and Moyo
No list of this sort can exclude Italy. Italians make an art of elevating natural ingredients, natural flavors, cooking simply, and making every meal an experience. Taranto was originally founded by the Spartans, and remains an important port city.
The cuisine of Puglia hasn’t changed much over the centuries, with the notable exception of the introduction of the tomato. But with ingredients so fresh, techniques so simple, and flavors so pungent, nobody is crying for innovation around here.
Representative restaurants: Trattoria Ristorante Gesu Cristo, Trattoria del Pescatore Murianni, Al Faro, Trattoria L’Orologio
The youngest city on our list, Vancouver boasts ready access to some of the most fruitful oceans in the world. And the culinary scene is an exciting hybrid of old-meets-new, east-meets-west, tradition-meets-innovation. Asian influences permeate Vancouver cuisine, and local chefs borrow liberally from a broad flavor vocabulary. This combination of access to incredible seafood, exotic and domestic ingredients, and diverse palates makes Vancouver an incredible place to indulge.
Representative restaurants: Blue Water Cafe, Joe Fortes, Bridges
While many people in the west only know Sapporo for the local beer, it’s the fourth largest city in Japan and gracefully unites sea and mountains. In the winter, the abundant snowfall is celebrated with an annual festival, and the balmy summers are cheered with numerous beer festivals.
Sapporo is the birthplace of miso ramen and has a distinctive local cuisine. Famous for a local curry and snow crab dishes, Sapporo adheres to Japanese traditions of preparing foods simply and allowing natural flavors to complement each other. And for the Japanese, Sapporo is widely considered to boast the best sushi in the country.
Representative restaurants: Sushi Hanamaru, Gotsubo, Nanda Seafood, Susukino Sapporo
Chennai is rapidly becoming a hot tourist and expat destination. It’s the only city in South Asia to make the New York Times’ list of 52 places to go around the world, and in 2015 Lonely Planet named it a top 10 destination. More importantly for our purposes, it’s been ranked by National Geographic as the world’s second best food city.
The South Indian cuisine indigenous to the region celebrates all of the six “flavors” of India, blending sweet, salt, sour, bitter, pungent, and astringent. Foods are traditionally served on a banana leaf due to the ancient belief that it removes toxins from foods.