Forget the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building , for a true slice of the real, living New York City, visitors ... More
New Fulton Fish Market (The)
Forget the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building , for a true slice of the real, living New York City, visitors need to check out the New Fulton Fish Market which has recently been relocated. The massive (two huge open air buildings) wholesale fish market not only provides fish for all the city's great restaurants and markets, but also supplies much of the U.S.'s East Coast. On a trip to the market, you'll see fishermen haggling with buyers from Nobu and LeCirque , slicing up the day's catch and yelling obscene epithets at anyone who gets in their way. It's difficult, if not impossible, for a lay person to purchase fish here, but it's worth a look, anyway. There's nothing else like it anywhere.
Firstly, there is nothing in the world quite like Fulton Fish Market, bustling and alive with a culture of seafood people as exotic as some of the fish that they sell. This particular evening I came to the market to just follow around my friend and favorite restauranteur, Bun Lai of Miya's Sushi of New Haven, Connecticut. After he picked out and ordered hundreds of pounds of tuna, salmon, red snapper and octopus to be delivered the next day to Miya Japanese Restaurant, we spent the next three hours seeking out the most unusual seafood; live lung fish; live eel; whole live sea urchin; live escargot; live bull frogs and painted turtles. In the end, most of my time with Bun was spent watching him so obviously enjoy the people who make Fulton tick. Fulton Fish Market is every bit as interesting for people watching as it is for seafood seeking.
The Market is only open Monday morning to Friday morning so don't trek there on the weekends and expect a bustling crowd of anything. By morning I mean 1am-9am. 4am is the peak hour of excitement, New York restaurant and grocery owners and chefs purchasing their day's fresh fish. By 8 and 9am, people start unwinding, closing shop, cleaning up, etc. Considerations: Do mind the forklifts, Do keep a mindful eye of the foot traffic, Don't treat these guys like zoo animals. They're great people and they'll treat you with respect if you treat them with respect. For added exploration, stop by The Market Bar and Grill on Peck Slip, hidden along the loading zone and next door to Paris Bar. It's seedy and rude and intimidating and wonderful. And on Fridays after work, it fills with fishmongers celebrating the end of the week with cigarettes and booze at 10 in the morning.
Unlike anything in New York. I've been "working" there for almost a year there, and by that I mean photographing for a book about its history, not just because it won't be around come early next year, but also because it's almost 200 year existence is hardly a blip on the radar of recorded New York. The past is still very much alive in its ethnic insular culture, 3rd and 4th generation businesses, and wiseguy accents. Come see it. You won't be disappointed.
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