Lunch under $5 in North Brooklyn’s fried-fish triangle

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King Fish, photo by Eric Reichbaum.

Everyone in New York seems to like hidden secrets, even if they aren’t all that secret. This is because New Yorkers are full of shit. I’m no different. My current find is a fried fish sandwich at a certain fresh fish store in Bed-Stuy. The sandwich is a “secret” because it’s sold at the kind of place that looks like nothing more than a fish market (it is a fish market, but the shop’s awning and the neon window light clearly say “Fried Fish” in bold lettering). The grub itself is tasty enough, but the real hook here is the price: $3, American. That’s right, dear reader, $3—hardly enough for some Boar’s Head bodega cold-cuts—gets you one fresh sandwich at King Fish Market. And the place isn’t alone in the little-known North Brooklyn fried fish triangle.

The sandwich at King Fish Market II (950 Broadway at Myrtle Ave., 718-573-9466) isn’t fancy, mind you: just three fresh whiting filets tossed into a bubbling deep fryer and slapped on to your choice of white or wheat bread. But don’t worry about it being dry—the massive squeeze bottles of tartar sauce (I recommend lots of this), ketchup and hot sauce on the counter take care of that. Use these to dress your sandwich sometime before the fry-master places the second piece of bread atop the fish and wraps it all up in much-needed wax paper. Then… enjoy. But be careful with that first bite. I suffered a lisp-inducing tongue burn my first time there from a hidden pocket of oil lodged in my flounder filets. The flounder is $5, by the way, but it’s well worth it—the bottom-feeder is much tastier than the whiting.

King Fish Market actually has quite a variety of fish sandwiches and fish & chip combos. There are salmon sandwiches, squid sandwiches, porgie sandwiches, blue fish sandwiches, soft shell crab sandwiches and something called crab sticks, which look like—and presumably taste like—sticks of crab, though they’re made of cod. Everything is cheap and deep-fried.

The cheap fish at King is hardly the only such stuff in the area. A bit farther down Broadway, towards Gates Ave., is Angel Fish Market (1255 Broadway, 718-452-3527), where the $2.95 whiting sandwich just undercuts the one at King. Angel’s sandwich, the day I had it, consisted of two massive whiting filets barely contained by two slices of bread. Like at King, you’re encouraged to dress the sandwich yourself. Hint: the hot sauce is in what looks like a mustard bottle. There really is no appreciable difference between the whiting sandwiches at King and Angel, but the two places’ menus are surprisingly different. Angel Fish Market has fewer sandwich offerings—just whiting and porgie—but they make up for it with fancier fare like steamed lobster tail and crab legs.

One more to go. Walk down Greene Avenue, past the pawn shop, to Malcolm X Boulevard, and you’ll find Brooklyn Fish N Take (98 Malcolm X Blvd, 718-443-0470) where fish intake is the name of the game (though the “Million Man Burgers” also are worth note. Man burgers?). Fish N Take was far and away the friendliest fish joint of the three, and the most hospitable, given that it doesn’t double as a fresh fish market. Here, $4 gets you two massive, crispy fried whiting filets on a couple of pieces of wheat bread. Again, you have to dress the sandwich yourself. The fish here was both crunchier and tastier than at King and Angel. I suppose there’s a small lesson here, about maybe not eating at places that hose down the floor, but I’m not listening. For a fried fish sandwich, any of the Bed-Stuy joints is worth the trip.

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  1. I love those shops. I live nearby and when I don’t feel like cooking, I walk over and get a filling meal for very little money.

  2. the Chinese take out up the street is also great lets not leave out Popeye’s. Brooklyn fish markets have always sold fried fish the one downtown Brooklyn behind Macy’s is the best offering the greatest deep fried veggies every

  3. What the hell is “a diarrhea” you might ask?

    Well, back in the old days there was a tale that sailors would tell land lovers about “Dire Rhea Splotzkin”. Not all the sailors would be able to pronounce Rhea’s last name, especially the Irish settlers in Boston, so the name was shortened to just “Dire Rhea”.

    You see, Rhea Splotzkin was a sailor’s wife who chased after him when he set out to sea. She had a unique perfume that she used that drove her husband crazy-go-nuts. She wore it that day to try and attract him back to land like a siren, but little did she know that the smell her husband loved was that of fish bait! Once she was out to sea far enough in a rowboat, she realized that the current had taken her too far out and her husband had slipped into the night’s fog over the ocean.

    She tried to get back to land, and she was spotted by the man who ran the local lighthouse. What that man saw, was Rhea, in dire straights trying to row back to the beaches, but she wasn’t strong enough. Smelling her perfume, the fish of the sea pounced, and the lighthouse man watched in horror as the carp in the waters killed and ate Rhea.

    The lighthouse man started telling the story of Dire Rhea, and all the carp from then on fished from those seas were called Dire Rhea. The commenter clearly is from this area of the world, but the story and name of the fish has been diluted to a poop joke.

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