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Tin Fish
Imperial Beach Pier, 910 Seacoast Drive, Imperial Beach
www.thetinfish.net

There are a lot of crab cakes in the naked city -- crumby crab cakes, fancy crab cakes tasting of too much green pepper, dried-out crab cakes the size of a Sacajawea dollar coin. But the essence of a good crab cake is crab, good crab, and lots of it. The challenge of coming up with an original take on the cake leads many high-end chefs astray into making dainty little highfalutin' ovals with too much breading and garnish and veggies -- and not nearly enough crustacean. At Tin Fish, for just $4 apiece, you get a hearty peasant crab cake -- a six-ouncer the size of a fist. Because of the thickness of the cake, the exterior surface fries up thoroughly crisp but the center stays soft and moist and full of crab flavor. When you cut into this monster, you quickly learn that there's not much "cake" in it -- minimal vegetation, a little liquid, and a whole passel of crab.

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