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Feb 15, 2001 11:09 AM

Fish on Sunday?

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If the Fulton Fish Market is closed on Sunday, then it would follow that most restaurants serving fish on Sunday are serving fish that is at least a day old. Restaurants that have fish delivered from alternative sources would not be included, of course, but do those sources deliver on Sunday? Probably not.

Am I incorrect to be suspicious that fish served on Sunday may not be as fresh as during the week? Am I wrong to cringe when walking past a sushi restaurant and seeing patrons eating raw fish that is not the freshest it could, or should, be?

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  1. Hate to break it to you, but the fish you're eating on Monday is at least a day old, and probably more than that. Commercial fishing boats stay out for days, sometimes weeks, at a time, and the fish often sits around for a few days after that before it even gets to the restaurants. I've heard that restaurants used to buy a week's supply of fish on Mondays, so that by Sunday the fish was on its last legs (so to speak), but I don't know if that's any longer true (if it ever was). My point is, eat fish whenever you want, because one day ain't going to make much difference.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Bill Bock

      I have always heard that it is best not to eat sushi on Sunday b/c of the 'freshness factor.' The fact that 3 of Manhattan's best sushi joints (Sushihatsu, Iso, and Kuruma Zushi) are all closed on Sunday happens to give this lore some credence. On the other hand, given that Nobu is open for biz on Sundays, who knows??!

      For what it's worth (beyond the sushi realm),Oceana, Le Bernardin, and Union Pacific are also closed on Sundays. Hmmmmm. Coincidence??

      Would love to get to the bottom of this.

      1. re: Jimmy Z.

        While it is true that you are not going to get fresh fish on Sundays (nor produce, nor meat, for that matter), the primary reason many restaurants are closed on Sundays is that we restaurant workers need our day of rest like the rest of you. It is rather depressing to be heading off to work when the rest of the world is taking 5 hours to read the Times. Ever notice that when you do eat out on Sundays the service is slightly less than enthusiastic?

        1. re: becky

          As a former restaurant waiter/btender/manager, I would have to disagree about the level of service on Sundays. Personally I enjoy dining out on Sunday nights because, for the most part, you avoid all the people who consider dining out on Friday or Saturday night as part of the "scene" of the evening (the bar at Olives comes to mind!). Most people eating on Sunday are there for the food. This clientele combined with a more relaxed staff have made for some very nice meals for me and friends.

          And on the other side of the coin, as a waiter I preferred taking care of people on Sunday night as there was more time to do so and the atmosphere was more relaxed.

          1. re: Barry

            Thats funny, because what Bourdain said in his book (Kitchen Condifiential) was that (in Manhattan I presume) weekend diners are considered tourists while weeknight diners are considered thier client base and therefor are looked upon better. Ack, some of the stuff they foist stuff off on weekend brunch diners.... (seafood fritatas again)...


            1. re: Jayask

              Having not read the book, i can't comment exactly, but i would agree with that. However I don't consider Sunday dinner (which is what I was speaking of) to be a "weekend" meal where tourists would be the primary customer. By that point in the weekend, most of the tourists have presumably left.

              1. re: Jayask

                The weekday/locals and weekend/tourists theory seems illogical to me. One would think that since the locals work during the week, they would wait until the weekend to kick back and enjoy a restaurant meal. Tourists, on the other hand, are on vacation and dine out all week long.

                1. re: Boswell

                  Seasoned NYers know that avoiding things when they're at their most crowded is key. I can't remember the last time I went to a movie on a saturday night. And more than that, seasoned eaters know that they are going to get the freshest food and the most interesting specials and the best service Tues-Thurs.

      2. Does anyone recall which day of the week Anthony Bourdain warns patrons away from mussels? pat

        5 Replies
        1. re: pat hammond

          I think he advises staying away from mussels at all times unless you know that the restaurant stores them properly. Otherwise they sit around in a trough of nastiness. I think his rule about seafood in general is to avoid it from Sundays through Tuesdays, but my memory might be faulty.

          1. re: Lauren

            Your memory of his caveat about mussels is right--seems to me that he said he would NEVER order mussels unless it was going to be prepared by a close friend. No kitchen will be willing to take the time to go through the bucket, mussel by mussel, to insure that you were not going to get a bad one. The alternative is to scoop, sauce, and plunk it out for the customer--the quickest and easiest way to turn a profit.

            He also said that some companies deliver on Saturday, but they still deliver Friday's fish. That kills the weekend, fishwise. He mentioned fritatta at Sunday brunch (oh, beware), and vividly brought back a memory of a seafood fritatta that I had at the old Hotel Dorset, and it's aftermath.

          2. re: pat hammond

            From what I can recall (from the New Yorker article from a couple years back), Bourdain recommends to avoid the seafood items on sundays, or better yet, eat chinese. Apparently, many restaurants receive a good bulk of their deliveries on Tuesdays and Fridays, which make those days ideal for freshness. He especially recommends Tuesdays for dinner since most chefs take Mondays off and tend to be more relaxed and likely to have the creative juices flowing. And if I remember correctly, Sundays are especially deplorable after a frenzied weekend, and the possible mishandling of delicate ingredients like seafood.

            1. re: pat hammond

              He recommended against mussels in rests. because "they were sitting in their own piss all day." It was Monday that he felt was the worst time for "fresh" fish.

              1. re: bryan

                Bryan: I thought it was Monday but second-guessed myself because so many places close on Monday. I recall reading in the NYTimes about a Monday special of all-you-can-eat mussels at a bistro in Manhattan for, I think it was, 12.95. I had just read Bourdain's book and grimaced at the thought of this
                "bargain". pat

            2. Having worked immediately adjacent to the Fulton Fish Market for 17 years I can assure you that almost none of the fish bought there on any day is fresher than two days out of the water. While some deliveries are made on every weekday, the vast majority of deliveries to the Fulton Fish Market are made on Mondays and Thursdays. The fish being delivered may have been caught as much as a week earleir.

              What is important is that the fish --whenever it was caught -- was handled and stored properly and is still "fresh", meaning firm and fresh smelling, when it is cooked.