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Buying fresh seafood in Monmouth County

Hi, hope I'm not wasting valuable space here since the subject is not about eating out, but I learned a valuable lesson this weekend when I found that my favorite seafood market, Klein's (NEVER the restaurant, the market only) was closed for vacation. The problem: from the Belmar area, the pickings are slim as to finding great, quality fresh seafood in the area. Any thoughts? I wound up taking the ride to Wegman's and paid too much for some decent red snapper from Mexico, but I ran through the list in my head for places I liked and it was a short one. Once Klein's comes back next week, we'll be OK, but the point is where to go for quality seafood, especially for domestic product?

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  1. Mr. Shrimp in Belmar has a small selection.

    1. Jody's on route 35 in Neptune is reliable

      7 Replies
      1. re: OGguy

        You will need to cross the bridge, but the best seafood in the area can be found at the Point Lobster Company. Last year (or so), they opened a new store front a few steps from their old location. I find it much better than any other store in the area -- including Klien's.

        1. re: MGZ

          Where is Point Lobster Company located?

          1. re: white light

            I agree Point Lobster Company is the best by far. It is located on St. Louis Ave. in Pt. Pleasant Beach just off of Broadway. I love their sushi grade tuna and fresh scallops. Prices are great!

          2. re: MGZ

            I am in Point Lobster Co. at least once a week! It is the freshest around! If I am around Toms River, then Pieces is great, they will special order for you if you give them a day or two, depending on their market day.

            1. re: shorebilly

              shore - I'm sure you mean Pisces Seafood Market
              3400 Route 37 E
              Toms River, NJ 08753

          3. re: OGguy

            yes, i agree. they even have a little counter where you can order lunch and eat there. crab cakes were pretty good.

          4. I don't have a specific reccomendation. My wife and I moved to Old Bridge and are transplanted NY'ers. We could not find a decent fish market anywhere. While Wegman's is very good but I think they are way too expensive and similiar quality can be found much cheaper. Our goto place for fish is an Asian market on Route 1 in Edison by The Ray Catena car dealership. We found another one too in East Brunswick. These are probably too far out of your way. That said, try a large local Asian market closer to you home. SO far we haven't been dissapppointed.

            3 Replies
            1. re: angelo04

              I would echo the positive feedback for Kleins. About the only bad thing I can say about it is that it is a bit pricey. But with the alternative being the local A&P... One thing I really like about Kleins (besides being 5 min. from my house) is that is always busy. So, one would assume they move a lot of product and it is therefore relatively fresh. They will also go out of their way for you if you ask. So, if I want to grill a whole fish, and give them notice, they are happy to just clean and not fillet it.

              As for the transplanted NYer, I feel for you a bit. When we lived in the UWS, it seemed that were several really great places within walking distance to get fresh fish. Not to mention better fruits and vegatables that I find in the local grocery.

              1. re: angelo04

                I recently moved from Belmar to Woodbridge & I am also having trouble finding good fresh seafood. Could you please send me the name of the Asian market on Route 1 in Edison? I am still learning my way around that area. I tried an internet search, but it was too broad. Thanks!

                1. re: woodbridgesue

                  It's Kam Man Food, at Rt. 1 and Old Post Road, the phone # I have is 732 248 9611

              2. thanks, all... I have actually been to Pt.P. market and it is indeed good, though I like the selection at Klein's much more. BTW... there is no relation!!! That said, Klein's Market moves their product through quickly because it services the restaurant as well (what a sin to have such a good market and such a lousy restaurant).
                However, the small number of responses tells me what I feared was true, that there aren't that many quality seafood markets in the area.

                5 Replies
                1. re: aklein

                  Esposito's on Monmouth Road in West Long Branch has nice fresh fish. The selection isn't as large a Kleins, though.

                  1. re: SusieQQ

                    Esposito's has been in business a long time, however, I never went to the store. I kind of thought that if it stayed in business this long, he has to be decent. I'll stop and buy some fish.

                  2. re: aklein

                    What about Spikes in Pt. Beach? Like Klein's, their market serves a restaurant as well.

                    1. re: bgut1

                      Spike's is popular but has lousey prices on old fish, do yourself a favor and go around the corner to point lobster company.

                      1. re: shorebilly

                        Shore - Spike's serves the same fish it sells from its counter and I can confidently say from my many meals there that the fish is very fresh.

                    1. re: bobfxd

                      Far for me to go to get fish, but I have done it. It's a very good market.

                      1. re: MGZ

                        Woolley's is adding a fish shack to its existing market. I'm not sure when its slated to open (I believe construction has begun). Perhaps it will make the trip more worth it if the fish shack is good.

                      2. re: bobfxd

                        Tried Wolleys a few times. Thought it was just OK. The last trip, the store had that fishy smell. We bought some fish and we were less than thrilled. Haven't been back since.

                        1. re: angelo04

                          angelo04 and all

                          I have family in Monmouth county, Manasquan to be specific, so I am aware of most of the previous recommendations. My thoughts are they are all expensive compared to what you can purchase elsewhere...

                          So my recommendation is with you (angelo04). I cannot attest to the Asian Market in Edison, but if it is like any Asian Market like here in Northern New Jersey, I am sure it is SUPERIOR to the ones mentioned above. The selection is excellent and the quality is equal if not better.........The prices.......the best and not unusual to be half of the others mentioned on a daily basis.

                          1. re: fourunder

                            In case I didn't stress it in my post, fourunder says it best. The prices at the Asian markets are in most cases half of what you would find elsewhere. We frequently roast whole fish for dinner. It was 4.99 a pound for striped bass, $5.49 a pound from the live tank. Shrimp were something like 7.99 a pound.

                            1. re: angelo04

                              angelo04, this sounds wonderful, except that last time I checked, Edison and Northern NJ are not in Monmouth Country, and an 80 mile drive for seafood isn't really practical. That being said, are there Asian markets in MC? I would love to find a place that was more reasonably priced than Kleins, but...

                              1. re: bnemes3343


                                Traveling short distances for any item on on a regular basis may be practical, but not necessarily always the best option. Shopping in general is relative to what is important to the buyer and for what occasion the meal is for. Living in Bergen County, i know many families that travel to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx for Christmas Eve Fish dinners. The total distance to and back may be only 30 mile, but the actual time for shopping may take an entire day.

                                Let's not forget, as not previously mentioned, Asian markets stock pantry items and traditional Western items as well. As for produce, you will not find better quality anywhere, including the likes of Whole foods or Wegman's. Combine this with A bakery and Unique Prepared Foods, and for me, 80 miles of travel does in fact seem practical and reasonable to me for excellent quality of food.

                                1. re: fourunder

                                  fourunder, I am with you to a point. I thoroughly enjoy a trip into NYC to stop by the farmers markets, ethnic stores, etc., and we can certainly make a day of it. That being said, I was trying to be a bit more focused on the OP. We eat fish in MC at least a few times every week, and an 80 mile trek isn't even remotely practical. I was kind of hoping that someone would respond that there was a reasonably priced fish market, Asian or otherwise that was actually in MC.

                                2. re: bnemes3343

                                  The Asian market in Edison has a sister store in Middletown on Rte 35 They are very well stocked and priced also.

                                  1. re: Eric in NJ

                                    Excellent! Do you have an address or a name? Middletown is more doable.

                                    1. re: bnemes3343

                                      bnemes and eric,

                                      Thank you on behalf of solving the problem for MC fish lovers.


                                      not to beat a dead horse, but angelo and my comment were to suggest and imply their are better options for everyone seeking quality fish if they expand their minds to what is available, even if it was outside the OP's original query.

                                      For a family of four......5 lbs fish @ 19.99 three times a week or

                                      5 lbs of fish @ 4-99.........the answer for many is obvious.

                                      BTW, if you travel each time to purchase your fish separately, the time and distance becomes less practical than to do it in one trip. Also, if you purchase fish for consumption for more than one day, if you store it properly, you can purchase fish to be served a couple of days in advance for later preparation............all you need is ice a drip pan and a pan underneath to catch the melting ice...this can be purchased in stainless steel commercial quality equipment....or simply made by taking plastic Tupperware, matching or not, and poking/cutting holes into one container to catch the water in the second. It's an excellent way to utilize a container you have lost a lid or has been stained by reheating of tomato sauce.

                                    2. re: Eric in NJ

                                      The Asian Market is next door to the Crown Palace restaurant on Rt 35 northbound, in Middletown near the intersection of New Monmouth Rd.

                                      I've never bought fish there. I do like the ribs from the barbecue counter. Some of the bakery items are good. And I've bought nice produce at good prices.

                                      Asian Food Center of Middletown
                                      1281 State Route 35, Middletown, NJ

                                      1. re: val ann c

                                        Thanks Val I bought about a 1 pound bag of shallots there for less than $2.

                                      2. re: Eric in NJ

                                        They also have a store on 79 in Marlboro, right off of Rt 18...it has a larger selection than Middletown. I agree about Point Lobster Co...hands down my favorite place to get fresh seafood!

                                      3. re: bnemes3343

                                        I agree, its a long drive. You missed my point. My experience has been that Asian markets are the hidden secret where you can find cheap and fresh fish. Hoping that someone from Monmouth could suggest one. I am sure there are several. And I should have read all the posts before posting, seems the answer is popping up just as I had hope. Ihope all the Asian people do not get mad at me for giving away their well kept secret.

                              2. Go to the docks (Belmar) and establish a relationship with some of the mates and you'll be suprised with some of the freshest catch you'll find out there...

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: Brandl

                                  now, that's not a bad idea, going to the docks... which leaves me with local fish only (not nec. a bad thing).. when I'm up for striper, blue, flounder, cod and whatever comes in from the Mud Hole or Canyon, that's what I should do... but if I'm hoping for fresh snapper, grouper, salmon, mahi, halibut (you know the drill), the choices are limited for retail shopping... guess you can't tell me who your fishmonger is...

                                  1. re: Brandl

                                    Good idea, I did it some time ago and got black fish. What time do the boats come in to grab some fish?

                                    1. re: Barbarella

                                      As a note, the mates may be hesitant to develop a relationship at first. Fish and Game have been active in the area, and this practice of selling fish is, how do you say it,...unlawful. That said, you will get the freshest possible fish. This time of year, you're basically limited to blackfish, a delicious, sweet, white fleshed fish. The boats will stop going when the water temps drop, but they're still going strong for now.

                                      1. re: TomT


                                        I am curious as I am sure others are about your comments being unlawful to purchase fish off the docks. Are you saying this as a practice in general or due to some form of licensing or health code with the Township or State?

                                        Over the years, I know of many restaurant owners that purchased fish and lobsters from the docks in the PPB or Brielle areas. I know of one owner in particular that lived in Holmdel, that used to purchase Ling/Whiting for 10 cents a pound on the docks and offer it for an All-You-Can-Eat Fish Fry at his restaurant in Northern NJ......this was in the mid-80's.

                                        Any references would be appreciated

                                        1. re: fourunder

                                          It's been a while since I bought fish on the docks from the incoming party boats. Not since before the 2000.

                                          I used to go there and see people waiting in the parking lot with plastic supermarket shopping bags hanging out of their pockets.

                                          We'd just go and see if anyone had some of their catch to sell. $5 used to get me a couple nice bluefish or a dozen mackeral. Throw in another $5 and they would clean them for me.

                                          Never thought it was illegal. just fisherman or crew making a few bucks from their surplus catch.

                                          1. re: BillHoo

                                            Sorry I missed these way back when. I'm not sure of the exact reasoning why the selling of fish is not allowed. I'm sure it's a combination of licensing, and health code. Weighing in as well is the fact that these boats fish under recreational as opposed to commercial restrictions. Rec fisherman are, by the letter of the law, not allowed to sell their catch.

                                            In the past this was not regulated as closely, but now...at least in Belmar, it's a little harder to get fish from the mates. That said, it can still be done and the guys definitely appreciate the couple extra dollars in their pocket.

                                            1. re: TomT

                                              Yes. It's kinda sad when we live in a state that has to overlegislate something as simple as selling off your excess catch. Otherwise, where does it go? In the trash bin? Bait bucket?

                                              I live in DC now, but some of the best seafood industries in the country were formed by fisherman selling their surplus at the docks. DCs Maine St. Wharf originally started that way, and now it is a small commerce hub that employs a few hundred people.

                                              Someone should invite Gov. Christie to a fish fry and see if he can pull some strings and repeal such a stupid law!

                                    2. re: Brandl

                                      Amen. This is the best way to get the freshest fish in this area.

                                    3. Speaking of fish market, is the East Brunswick Seafood Market on Rt 18 Northbound, across from the TJ Maxx, Lowes, etc..., any good? I have been living in East Brusnwick for years but never visited that place. I just usually go to the Asian market for seafood...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: yCf

                                        Went here once for my CHristmas Eve Fish dinner. Placed an order well ahead of time and the $300+ order appeared to have been put together without much care or thought. I understand it is a busy time. Shrimp was half cleaned. I ordered clams on the half shell. They were full of sand and shell. My one bad expereince turned me off to them.

                                      2. Not exactly very close to Belmar, but The Keyport Fishery has great, fresh fish.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: JenniS

                                          I love the fried fish platters at Keyport Fishery. Now Keyport has a nice covered fishing pier, with benches. I plan to be out there in Spring, enjoying a fish platter.

                                        2. 80 miles each way for fresh fish? Gas and tolls would set you back $25+ plus 5 hours of your day. There's got to be other options.
                                          Navesink Fishery
                                          Keyport Fishery
                                          Jody's Neptune
                                          Ray's Seafood Little Silver
                                          Pt Lobster
                                          And now the Asian Market in Middletown.
                                          I think there is a decent selection in the area just may need to drive a few extra miles instead of the 80.

                                          13 Replies
                                          1. re: tom porc

                                            Yes, that was exactly my point... Not to mention the state the fish would be in without $10 worth of ice to pack it in. Your list looks like a good one and I will check some out. But I am so close to Kleins and their product is very good. My only complaint is that they are a bit pricey (but def. cheaper than driving 80 miles).

                                            1. re: bnemes3343

                                              tom porc and bnemes,

                                              Let's just clear up a few things for others. angelo04 originally recommended the Asian market in Edison......Edison is approximately 40 miles from Wall township.

                                              1. That's an 80 mile round trip
                                              2. assuming 15mi/gallon highway....@ $3/gallon......just over $15
                                              3. Travel time is 90 minutes
                                              4. Shopping time 30 minute......2 hours, not 5
                                              5. $10 for ice?..........If you ask for it, they give it to you for free.

                                              This is all moot, because without the original suggestion from angelo04, the information about the Asian market in Middletown would not have been revealed and known to others.......and saving a little time, expenses and travel......

                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                Sorry, I was refering to your Bronx seafood store not the Asian Edison location.

                                                Btw, I just happened to be in their Middletown store today and looked at their fish. They had about 8-10 choices and everything seemed fresh. The prices were very good. I've never bought fish there so I cant say much more. I usu go there for their selection of green tea, bakery and produce.

                                                1. re: tom porc

                                                  TP and all,

                                                  Even though I am an advocate of Asian Markets for shopping for: meats, produce, seafoods and dry goods..........

                                                  When it does come to fillets of fish.........as do all the markets mentioned thus far.....sometimes, even daily fish offerings are previously frozen, so a discerning eye would be prudent. It's quite easy to tell the difference. All previously frozen fish is dull and stiff in appearance, where as fresh fillet fish has a shimmer and is softer.......I can only surmise it is due to saline solutions or the freezing process and subsequent thaw of the fish.

                                                  Any one who doubts this, I would use Orange Roughy as an example. If you believe it is fresh at any market.......The Brooklyn Bridge is available for sale and I am the exclusive broker.

                                                2. re: fourunder

                                                  So we just got back from a trip to the Asian market in Middletown (I'm goofing off today). First, let's dispense with the notion that it would make any sense to go there from Belmar to pick up a pound of fish. If course it doesn't. It's a 40 mile round trip, whereas I can practically walk to Kleins. BUT....

                                                  This place is really great!!! They have EVERYTHING. Some things that I find very difficult to locate closer to home were all there (black vinegar, the type of pot sticker wrappers that I prefer, etc. etc.) And the prices are really amazing. Baby bok choy for .99/lb must be about 1/3 what I pay in Wegmans. Both the meats and fish looked great to me and the prices probably 1/2 of what I would pay at Kleins. Lots of whole fish as well, so I am pretty sure I will make a trip once the weather gets warm again to get some whole fish for grilling. Today we picked up some nice shrimp, snow peas and noodles for a quick stir fry tonight. Lunch (scallion buns and pork bbq buns) are warming now. DEFINETLY worth the trip and something I will do again from time to time.

                                                  1. re: bnemes3343

                                                    Don't wait for the grilling weather. Roast a whole fish in the oven. Not as good as the grill but still excellent.

                                                    1. re: angelo04

                                                      I may try that. Never done it before, but it would seem easy enough. And, it would give me an excuse to go back to this place. The buns for lunch were very good and they practially give them away (.80 for a pork bbq bun - how can you go wrong).

                                                      1. re: bnemes3343

                                                        .80.........they are only .60 in Bergen County!!!!!!!!

                                                      2. re: angelo04

                                                        bnemes, angelo and all,

                                                        The Classic Chinese Whole Fish dish:

                                                        Steamed/Poached Black Sea Bass Fish Whole in a Wok, remove to a platter.

                                                        Very thin julienne of Scallion and Ginger and preferred Soy Sauce spread over the top of the fish.

                                                        Heat Vegetable, Corn or Canola oil in a wok with smashed whole garlic cloves, very hot until it just begins to smoke. Pour over fish with a ladle, wilting all the ginger and scallions. Serve, and go straight for the cheeks.

                                                        You can also do this by putting the fish in a covered wok and steaming with the ingredients on a platter. Pan Fried or Steamed Flounder is another favorite alternative using the same methods. I would suggest the flounder be cut into 1.5-2.0 strips bones included from head to tail.....and please do eat the dorsel fins surrounding the fillets.....this is very food eating, and if you pan fry, crisp the outer fins and you can eat them like potatoe hips....and very healthy for you.

                                                        No need to go out to a restaurant or Chinatown and the $30-40 price tag. Cooking this at home is $10-12.........

                                                        1. re: fourunder

                                                          This thread has been forwarded to my wife. Can't wait to try this. Oh and if you don't have a wok another reason to go to a a good Asian market. You can get a great one for like $10 instead of some overpriced one from a department store. BTW - These discoveries are a result of my wife going to a Chinese food class.

                                                          1. re: fourunder

                                                            potatoe hips???????? I meant potato chips.

                                                            1.5-20.......inch cuts/chops/pieces/portions

                                                            head/fish/fish/fish/fish/fish/tail/.........//////....are knife cuts.

                                                  2. re: tom porc

                                                    The Belford or Port Monmouth fishery is about 5 miles from the Asian Market which is in Middletown on Route 35 also sells plenty of fish. I swear in the one shed alone there are 25-40 tanks of lobsters swimming around. Its close to the Pirates Cove restaurant which I might add is very good. As for prices they were comparable to what you would pay just about anywhere else for whatever you want.


                                                    1. re: F77

                                                      Try Wooley's Fish Market on Rt9 in Freehold/Howell