Food writer Jordana Rothman goes behind-the-scenes on an overnight trip to New York's historic Fulton Fish Market.
Krystof Zizka is just pulling up to Maison Premiere, his Williamsburg, Brooklyn oyster bar, when I arrive there after midnight one sticky July night. He’s just returned from a trip to a part of LaGuardia Airport few travelers ever see: a vast and cheerless expanse of cargo hangars where, twice a week, Zizka picks up oysters flown directly from West Coast farms. Maison Premiere sells about 11,000 oysters a week; enough to trim a mile of Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg’s pulsing main drag, in empty shells. I consider this while I sip café au lait at the marble bar, waiting for Zizka to finish unpacking his haul in the downstairs kitchen. By 12:45, he’s ready to roll.
Tonight I’m joining Zizka for a weekly tradition he shares with the team behind Bún-Ker Vietnamese, another cultish New York City restaurant. Every Thursday after midnight, Zizka—along with a mix-and-match crew that tonight includes Maison cook Flavio Rosas, and Bún-Ker’s Shea Hsu and Adam Pak—all caravan to the New Fulton Fish Market at Hunts Point in the Bronx. They buy seafood for their restaurants, then return to Bún-Ker at dawn to uncork wines, crack beers and devour shellfish and big platters of sashimi carefully cut from the market spoils. Hsu and Pak call these late-night feasts “quality control.” This is the kind of invitation you don’t refuse.