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Mar 20, 2008 07:08 PM

Seafood shopping in Chinatown

Does anyone shop for seafood in Chinatown? The fish and shellfish at many of the street side stores look fresh and the prices seem better than Chelsea Lobster Co or Citarella's. But I've never gone beyond produce, dried bin goods, and bottled/canned things in my Chinatown shopping.

So, any thoughts on the lobsters, fish, etc in that area and any particularly good stores (or ones to stay away from)?

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  1. Chinese demand for fresh seafood is very high and Chinatown offers excellent quality all around at much cheaper prices. Fresh seafood shops abound on Canal, Mott and Grand.
    On weekends scores of cars/vans with out-of-state plates (NJ, and PA) can be seen stocking up.

    2 Replies
    1. re: scoopG


      I'm one of those Jersey plates. I do not get into the city as much as I used to, but when I do my excursions to Chinatown, I usually purchase some Sea Foods and Whole Fish on the south side of Canal and Mulberry Streets.

      If I do not go to Chinatown for a meal, but strictly shopping, I will go down to the LES and shop on Grand Street. The prices are comparable or a couple of dimes cheaper. the same would hold true for produce and dried goods....or at the very least, it is what I believe.

      All in all, the quality is very good and I feel all the stores handle the fish properly.

      My only words of caution are not all the fish or fish fillet are fresh. You can easily tell which fish has been frozen if it is not marked. Previously frozen fish is more opaque and the fresh fish has more sheen. If you intend to shop in either area I have mentioned, simply walk the blocks first and make notations. All the stores are close enough where it is not an inconvenience. In fact, I would say it is a learning experience for future references and the proper way to see what is the best fish available.

      BTW....never buy any lobsters not alive and kicking. When a lobster dies, due to nature, the intestines deteriorate quickly and whatever scientific process that is, is the reason why lobster meat becomes soft. The same would hold true for shrimp.
      Saving a few dollars to what appears to be a good buy really is not if you have to throw it out later.

      1. re: fourunder

        I buy lobster from this wholesale place on Allen between Hester and Canal. They hold up the lobster to show you how alive and kicking it is, and if it seems a little listless, you can always request another. They have tanks and tanks of lobster. I've gotten snapper from Tan My My before and it's been good.

    2. A place on Grand, just east of Bowery, has some misspelled tilapia (talabia, maybe?) for $2.80 a pound. I haven't eaten the straight filets, but I've mixed it into stews and smothering sauces and it works just fine. Other prices there are very good, and so is the freshness.

      4 Replies
      1. re: douglas525

        Do you mean Tan My My just *west* of Bowery @ 249 Grand? Was just there yesterday and bought a gorgeous sea bass for about one-third what I would pay at Citarella. It's usually quite reliable, but as fourunder says you really have to take a good look at the fish and make sure it's fresh. I usually prefer Hong Keung Seafood Market @ 75 Mulberry between Bayard and Canal. Their fish is generally fresher and prices somewhat better, although they don't have as large a selection.

        Tan My My
        249 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

        Hong Keung
        75 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

        1. re: JoanN

          'West' may be right, now that I think about it.

          1. re: douglas525

            Now that I look at my own map (D'uh!), I see you were right. It *is* east, not west, and the place that djk is referring to below on Grand & Chrystie.

            1. re: JoanN

              So it's confirmed...Grand NEAR

      2. I bought some lovely huge shrimp at a seafood market on Bayard - just where it intersects with Elizabeth - next to the butcher at Number 57. I thought the fish looked quite nice as well (the live toads and eels were also interesting), and I bought pork belly and ground pork at that butcher.

        2 Replies
        1. re: MMRuth

          the place everyone on these boards used to love is the one on chrystie and grand on the corner. haven't been in a long while but it used to be great.

          1. re: djk

            Yes, that's Tan My My that I mentioned above. I just got my east/west mixed up. As I mentioned above, I was just there yesterday and it looked different to me. Narrrower storefront, most shellfish way in the back instead of up front as it used to be, a new produce section on the street (but you pay for your fish and produce separately so I'm assuming it's separate owners), and a butcher shop over on the side. Did Tan My My ever have a butcher shop? Is it even Tan My My any more? It didn't look as good to me as it used to, but I was just picking up a couple of things quickly and really didn't check it out all that carefully. Anyone know more than what I'm just guessing at?