On 116th Street just east of Malcolm X Boulevard (aka Lenox Avenue) —and abutting the West Africa Market—is Sea & Sea, a busy, important Harlem fish shop.
Inside, on one hand you have the long, self-serve fish counter iced and piled deep with Porgies, Whiting, Bass, Snapper (red, white and blue), Blue Fish, Catfish, Salmon, Tile Fish and Flounder followed by stacks of most of those same fish, filleted. At the back is shellfish and crustaceans (showing oysters at $1 each).
On the other hand is the grill/steamer with a menu that includes almost any fish from the opposite wall served with chips (deep fried potatoes) or onion rings or vegetables (either fried or steamed).
My whole Porgie came as two large pieces covered with a beautifully browned coarse crust—crunchy and hot, clinging tightly to the steaming fish it contained. Be warned: every fish retains its bones, which contributed to its cooked full flavour.
This is a traditional-looking fish shop with wet, tiled floors, cool air, grated ice on every hand and busy with customers from neighbourhoods near and far.
There is no seating inside or even outside on the sidewalk, or for some distance in any direction. It’s a stand-and-eat operation offering huge portions at a comically affordable price. My Porgie and chips—much more than I could eat—was $7, cash only, please.
The nearest trash can is on the corner of 116th and Lenox.