One thing I've noticed, both on this thread, and also from personal experience, is how valuable it is for a restaurant to be close to LAX airport. After a long day of travel, you just don't want to deal with Los Angeles traffic on your first night - I've found you the perfect restaurant.
Fishing With Dynamite is a raw bar and seafood specialist in Manhattan Beach, about a 7 mile drive from the airport hotels. The Chef de Cuisine is David LeFevre, who has spent time at Charlie Trotters, Le Moulins de Mougins, Water Grill, as well as a couple years hoping all over Asia (and his Asian influence shows at Fishing With Dynamite). We have a common friend in Josh Raynolds (a wine writer for The International Wine Cellar). Look for Fishing With Dynamite to be a James Beard Award contestant in the future.
Since we're 3 hours behind on the east coast, I got there at around 5:30, and it was still empty on a Wednesday. The menus online are current, save for handwritten daily specials (which should interest you).
I started out with a pint of Jamaica Red Ale ($6.50) by Mad River Brewing Company in Blue Lake, CA while I perused the menu.
Wanting to see what Chef Lefevre could do with the "Traditional" section, I started with a bowl of New England Clam Chowdah ($9), a sensational bowl of chowder made with littlenecks in shell (and comes with a bucket for the shells), made with Neuske's bacon, Weiser Farm Potatoes (both thinly sliced baby whites and, I believe, sweets (although those could have been squash), and some lovely house made oyster crackers which you should try one of, dry, then immediately dump the rest in. This could have used the smallest pinch of salt, although it might have been my body chemistry; not the soup - other than that, it was just about the perfect bowl of chowder.
Knowing I'd get seafood with some type of lemon in it, I switched over to a 6-ounce glass of Seguinot-Bordet "Reserve Sainte-Victoire - Vielles Vignes" Chablis ($14.50) - they also offer 3-ounce pours at a discount.
"Can you vouch for your crab cake?" I asked my knowledgable bartender (who, from overhearing him, is clearly a cocktail expert).
"Of course I can," he said.
"What if I told you I just woke up in Baltimore this morning?" I asked.
The staff all laughed.
Maryland Blue Crab Cake ($16) was delicious blue crab, the whole crab, lump and fin meat, but not in a traditional Maryland style at all. Breaded with what was seemingly a lemony panko and served atop a whole grain mustard remoulade, and served alongside a salad of red cabbage and house made dill pickle slices, this was a delicious, somewhat acidic, virtuoso presentation of Maryland Crab that you should not hesitate to order. Alongside it: Chef David's Mom's New England Squash Rolls ($5) - I had *no* idea about what the presentation of these would be - it turns out they're something resembling Parker House rolls, but with squash, and much denser, served with rosemary butter for spreading and dipping. An order of four was too much, so I took two home the next morning to have with my coffee.
(As of April 3rd, 2014, if you go to their homepage, the 2nd and 3rd pictures are reasonable facsimiles of my chowder and crab cake, the chowder is slightly different (especially the oyster crackers), but the crab cake is almost a dead ringer for what I had.)
Despite the name, and informality, and location just off the Pacific Ocean, this is a deadly serious seafood restaurant that you're going to be hearing about in the future, and I would return in a minute, next time going for the "Modern" section of the menu since I've already seen how Chef Lefevre can succeed with the more traditional items. If you're tired, and in a LAX hotel with a car, your spirits will be awakened if you come to Fishing With Dynamite - although the menu is small, there's plenty more to explore here than I did on my brief visit.
This restaurant is owned by the same people who own Manhattan Beach Post.