Little Fried Fish from Nopa

Categories: SFoodie's 92
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We've never known them to sog, even under assault from lemon.
As a daily windup to the Weekly's Best of S.F. 2010 on May 19, we've teased out 92 of our favorite local dishes that taste like here. All the tasty details after the jump.
Number 35: Little Fried Fish from Nopa

There's no doubt that Nopa is an all-around great restaurant. People talk about the cocktails, the white beans, the pork chop, the Friday-night thicket of Marc Jacobs jeans that has transformed this corner of "Western Addition" into a stylish acronym. What we talk about when we talk about Nopa: the little fried fish.

SFoodie grew up on fried smelt dinners, the proto popcorn chicken. The thought of eating fish heads disgusted us for a while, what with that brief foray into vegetarianism (i.e., cheese pizza and bad stir-fries), but we returned to our senses in our mid-20s. We remember that moment of rediscovery every time we order up this appetizer, and fall for fish heads all over again.

The fish are always impeccably fresh, with the clean salt of the sea and none of its lurid funk. Suitably, the night that SFoodie went to Nopa to shoot photos of the lil' fish, Jossel had switched them out for strips of peak-season sand dabs. Initially, we assumed we'd miss that interior crunch from the lil' bones popping as we bit through, but the translucent golden shells kept the fish crackling. The batter's two parts tempura, one part onion ring, delicate and never oily. In fact, we've never seen it sog, even after we squirt the lemon wedge over top.

Nopa 560 Divisadero (at Fell), 864-8643; dinner only


Craving more? Check out these previous links to our countdown:

No. 92: Cracked Half Dungeness from Swan Oyster Depot
No. 91: Pastrami Sandwich from Orson
No. 90: Coconut Bun from Out the Door on Bush
No. 89: Brown Sugar-Black Pepper Biscuits from Little
Skillet

No. 87: Indian Pizza from Zante
No. 86: Tamales from All-Star
No. 85: Chilaquiles from Nopalito
No. 84: Poc Chuc from Poc-Chuc
No. 83: Chocolate Beignet from Arlequin Cafe
No. 82: Scallop Crêpe from Ti Couz
No. 81: Gin and Tonic from Pizzaiolo/Boot and Shoe
Service

No. 80: Quesadilla from Rico Pan
No. 79: Turkey Kati Rolls from Kasa
No. 78: Emperor's Pancake from Suppenküche
No. 77: Lasagna from Zuppa
No. 76: Chicharrones from 4505 Meats
No. 75: Langka Ice Cream from Mitchell's
No. 74: Bacon Potato Chips from Who's Your Daddy
No. 73: Lamb Dumplings from Kingdom of Dumpling
No. 72: Chile-Braised Carnitas Sandwich from Bento 415
No. 71: Chili from Mission Burger
No. 70: Croissants from La Farine
No. 69: Xiu Mai Banh Mi from Saigon Sandwich
No. 68: Creme Brulee from Sweet.
No. 67: Limon Cebiche from Limon
No. 66: Chicken and Waffles from Brown Sugar Kitchen
No. 65: Brioche Bread Pudding from Tartine Bakery
No. 64: Turkish Salad from Old Jerusalem
No. 63: Ribs from Bruno's
No. 62: Prupisceddu in Umidu (Stewed Octopus)
from
La Ciccia

No. 61: Hot and Spicy Beef Jerky from Marin Sun Farms
No. 60: Pozole from Chilango
No. 59: Lobster Roll from Sam's ChowderMobile
No. 58: Dry-Fried Chicken Wings from San Tung
No. 57: John Campbell's Scones from Lovejoy's Tea Room
No. 56: Prahok from Angkor Borei
No. 55: The Garden-Fresh Pie from Pizzetta 211
No. 54: Pata Negra Ham from Contigo
No. 53: Stone Bowl Bibimbap at Han Il Kwan
No. 52: Green Papaya Salad from Green Papaya Deli
No. 51: Egg Puffs from Shanghai Dumpling King
No. 50: Cactus Tortillas from La Palma
No 49: Thai Barbecue Chicken from Manivanh
No. 48: Salt and Pepper Crab from R&G Lounge
No. 47: Aztec Chocolate Cupcakes from Mission Minis
No. 46: Octopus Tostada from Mariscos La Costa
No. 45: Pan con Chicharron from El Perol
No.
44: Burmese chicken-noodle soup at Yamo

No. 43: Roast Duck from Cheung Hing
No.
42: Rotisserie Bird from Goood Frickin' Chicken

No.
41: Franklin's Teleme Cheese

No. 40: Pho Dac Biet from Turtle Tower
No. 39: Sea Salted Dark Chocolate Caramels from Hooker's
No. 38: Dottie's Famous Pancakes from Dottie's True Blue Cafe
No. 37: XXX Chocolate Cake from Baker and Banker
No. 36: Carnitas Burrito from La Taqueria

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