Wicked view of Murrells Inlet with a menu to match

For Weekly SurgeMay 27, 2013 

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    Wicked Tuna is at 4123 U.S. 17 Business in Murrells Inlet, and the number is 651-9987. It opens daily at 11 a.m.

Setting the Table

The million-dollar renovation completed at Wicked Tuna, at Crazy Sister Marina in Murrells Inlet in the former Spud’s Waterfront Dining building, has resulted in a gorgeous space where the food befits the setting.

The restaurant is elevated, which makes the waterfront view of Murrells Inlet dramatically memorable. At the entrance the ceiling soars over the hostess stand and contains a stainless steel sculpture by local artist Robert Sadlemire comprised of 400 fish that look like they’re swimming in a whirling school.

To the right is a lovely dining area iced in reflective blues and cool whites, and to the left is a spacious sushi bar with dramatic blue lighting and a handsome ceiling of ancient pine and cypress.

Behind the hostess stand are two more dining areas. To the right is a partially covered deck, and to the left is a covered open-sided bar. Smoking is allowed in the bar, and it’s more spacious than the non-smoking deck.

Down the Hatch

Head chef Dylan Foster says he and his kitchen staff of 15 are proud of the fresh seafood they purchase from local fisherman who dock behind the restaurant.

My son and I visited twice, once for sushi and again for lunch. On both visits the food was outrageously delicious. The complete sushi, lunch and dinner menus, which are extensive, are online at www.thewickedtuna.com.

We both selected sushi with tempura, and mine also had fresh raw seafood on top. Each roll was $13, and the serving was so generous I took three pieces home. My son polished those off and said, “Damn! That was good sushi!”

The sushi menu has dozens of choices including nigiri, sashimi, maki rolls, tataki rolls and specialty rolls. There are sushi appetizers ($11-$16) like Tuna Tartare, Tuna Pizza (which a chef friend tried and said he thoroughly enjoyed) and Dragon Egg, which is a halved avocado stuffed with a mixture of cream cheese, smoked salmon, blue crab, king crab and spicy crab on a bed of sweet potato tempura. Specialty rolls include the Toro Crunch Roll with shrimp tempura, tuna, scallion, sweet glaze, sweet chili and tempura potato; and Shrimp Mania with tempura sweet potato, tempura shrimp, lobster, ebi shrimp, spicy mayonnaise, sweet glaze and black tobiko.

Our bill for two sushi rolls and two waters was $28.

On the next visit we tried one appetizer and one entrée.

Lunch appetizers are $8-$13 and include Avocado Spring Rolls, Oysters on the Half Shell with three sauces, Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche, White Corn Guacamole, Mussels in creamy tomato broth, Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Chicken Enchiladas and Vietnamese Beef Sliders. I wanted to order Bruschetta with filet of beef, arugula, shaved Parmesan, sesame crusted tuna and torched goat cheese, but they were out.

So I had Crab Cake Bites ($12), which was nine one-bite fried crab balls served with a house-made rémoulade containing a wonderful mix of slightly spicy flavors. Although I think $1.33 for each bite is a bit much, they contained almost pure crab and were the meatiest fried crab balls I’ve ever tasted. They were attractively presented in a white dish that looks like a ladle.

Soups and salads are $6-$13 and include Clam Chowder, Seafood Gumbo, Chopped Chef Salad, Wedge, Chopped Mediterranean and Ginger Salad with greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, chives, candied pecans and crispy wonton strips.

Lunch entrées are divided into seafood ($19-$25), grilled ($18-$27), poultry ($18-$19), 8-ounce burgers ground in-house from sirloin, rib eye and filet ($12-$14, comes with fries), sandwiches ($12-$15, comes with fries) and tacos ($13-$15, comes with Spanish rice).

A few of those dishes are Maryland style (Chef Foster is from Maryland) Crab Cakes, Stir Fry Lobster, St. Louis Ribs, Braised Short Ribs, Mongolian Beef, an 8-ounce Filet Mignon, Szechuan Chicken, Chicken Pad Thai, Southern style Fried Chicken with barbecue sauce, Southwestern Burger with beef short rib on it, the New Yorker Burger with Reuben sandwich toppings, shrimp or oyster Po’ Boy, Basil Chicken Panini, Shrimp Taco, Mahi Mahi Taco and Carne Asada Taco.

My son ordered his $29 entrée from the list of daily specials: Sesame Crusted Tuna with sweet and sour ponzu sauce, vegetable fried rice and lightly dressed Asian slaw. The tuna was premium and melt-in-the-mouth tender, and my son devoured it.

Our lunch of one appetizer, one entrée, one iced tea and one pint of locally-brewed New South ale came to $51.14.

The dinner menu has many of the same dishes as the lunch menu, but some served only at night include Hummus; Grilled Salmon with roasted pepper, sun-dried tomato sauce, balsamic reduction and basil oil; Trigger Fish where pieces are deep-fried and served with chipotle Ranch; and Wahoo Steak with paprika garlic marinade.

Check, please

On our first visit our server told us a pint of New South ale was $9.50, so we had water. On the second visit we did order the New South, but the price was $4.75, not $9.50. There is only one beer that costs $9.50: Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.

A Tiki bar outside by the waterfront features daily live music, and both the Tiki bar and the bar inside the restaurant have happy hour from 4-7 p.m. when domestic bottles are $2.50 and house liquors and wines are discounted by $1. The wine list offers approximately 60 bottles, and several are sold by the glass for $6-$12.

One dessert is made in-house: green tea ice cream rolled in pound cake and sliced like sushi. It’s $12.

Manager Jennifer Hawkins says the menu is soon changing as it is developed to suit customers’ tastes, and the bartender said many drink prices have been reduced since opening. When we visited, a drink special was a $4 raspberry Mojito.

Becky Billingsley serves fresh news daily at MyrtleBeachRestaurantNews.com.

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