Hungry for seafood on a college budget? The prospect of Morton Williams make you ill? Bwog correspondent David Iscoe has found a solution in the form of the New Young Fish Market.  

The first time I saw the New Young Fish Market, I thought the sign said “Neil Young
Fish Market,” but the real name is almost as strange.  Behind the strange title, unassuming sign, and bland facade at 108th and Amsterdam is a horde of seafood that beats anything in the neighborhood. I first went inside about a year ago, and found out what I’d been missing.

    For a small place, the selection is huge. Take today’s choices, for example. 27 different fillets and steaks. Seven types of raw shrimp. Conch, oysters, sea scallops, bay scallops, clams and mussels. 19 different kinds of whole fish, as well as squid, octopus, and assorted fish heads. In the front, a stack of tanks houses live lobsters and crabs, and in the back coolers are stocked with dozens of extra items, from cooked shrimp and imitation crab meat to lobster tails and king crab legs.

The place has all the signs of a good honest fish market. The air is clean, without a strong fishy smell, and everything is nestled in a huge bed of ice. Behind each item is a card which, along with the price, says whether the seafood is wild or farmed, and what country it comes from (the cephalopods are from Mexico – most fish are from the U.S.). New Young has some excellent bargains, with whole bluefish going for $1.49 a pound, red snapper for $3.99 a pound, and wild kingfish and farmed salmon steaks for $5.99 a pound each.  There are expensive items, like 12.99/lb wild salmon filets, and $10.99/lb. monkfish filets (but where else in Morningside Heights can you cop monkfish?), but you can also get whole carp, croaker, or tilapia for $1.99 a pound.

    Amazingly, that’s just one side of the market. While the men run the fresh fish counter on the right, the ladies hold down the cooked fish counter on the left, where they boast a selection of fried and steamed seafood and steamed vegetables. The #1 meal is the $3.00 fish sandwich. The recipe is simple: 3 fried whiting filets, served with two pieces of white or wheat bread: add your lemon
juice, spices, and sauces. The sandwich is a lot of food for $3.00, and if you’re down with fried whiting (some people don’t trust it), is pretty tasty. The fish is fresh and is fried so that, while it’s crispy on the outside, it stays juicy, soft and flaky on the inside. The fillets let out steam when you bite into them. The breading is just standard-issue fish fry, but that’s why you have the sauces—I like tartar and hot sauce (they have a sort of weak cayenne-based sauce, but does the job in large quantities).

    As well as a crowd of mainly non-college locals, New Young Fish Market supplies area restaurants like 108th Mini-Café, the tiny (and excellent) Haitian restaurant next door. It’s something Columbia students can use, too, especially if you’ve got one of those big kitchens in your fancy suites or your Woodbridge doubles. It ain’t the Fulton Fish Market, or the Maine Avenue Fish Market, but it’s pretty damn good for Morningside Heights.

Pictures by David Iscoe