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Nov 10, 2001 02:16 PM

Fish market in Chinatown

  • s

i'm ashamed to say i live in north beach and have never shopped for fish in chinatown. the smell has daunted me, but i know there must be a few clean places where the staff is helpful and the fish is fresh. any recommendations?


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  1. I think you will find that notwithstanding the sometimes exotic smells, most Chinatown fish markets have the freshest fish in town. Chinese are incredibly meticulous where fish freshness is concerned...that is why you see so many live things in Chinese Markets. If you live in North Beach, you are very close to the block of Grant Ave between Pacific and Broadway. Several good fish markets, and you can try Stockton St...look for crowds of Chinese women. They have their favorites.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Jim H.
      Sneedy McCreedy

      thanks jim. i know i'm being overcautious, but i used to have to walk down grant at 5 in the morning on my way to work and the smell (from the water used to rinse the sidewalks in front of the fish markets, now standing in the cratered street at the curb) was so godawful i've never been brave enough to shop there for something as perishable as fresh fish. but i'm going to get over it and take a stab.

      anyone have any specific recommendations?

      1. re: Sneedy McCreedy

        It is daunting--partly because few vendors speak enough English for non-Cantonese speakers to be able to communicate very well. (And one has to learn to speak up or regulars will push ahead and clerks ignore you.) I often shout out, "Does anyone speak English please?"

        One hint: In the past I've made the mistake of buying fish that were not particularly popular with Chinese and having them less than pristine (salmon comes to mind).

        I finally switched to shopping on Clement, where the shops are newer and seem a bit cleaner and less smelly.

        For live anything, there's no comparison. One pretty much has to shop at Chinese fish markets. For "dead fish," I tend to patronize Western places.

        1. re: Fine

          If language is a problem, just point to the fish you want. You probably want the freshest fish available, which are the live ones in the tanks.

          In general, the most common fish I see in these tanks are:

          Black bass (~$8 lb)
          Catfish ($3 lb)
          Tilapia ($2.50-3 lb)
          Rock Cod

        2. re: Sneedy McCreedy

          I don't get into Chinatown much anymore, but an old standby was what used to be the Dupont Market. Grant Ave. used to be called "Dupont Gai". I think it is now the Canton Market. Corner of Grant and Pacific. Unless it has gone downhill in the past few years, you can't go wrong there. Another thing that amazes me is how we non-Chinese ignore the great buys at these markets of prepared Chinese food. Last time I looked, Canton had crab in black bean sauce for about $4.00 per pound...uncleaned crab will cost that. You can put on a great Chinese banquet for ten people for about $75.00, including roast duck.