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The anchor to Chinatown for decades, Central Fish is not only the best place to buy fresh fish, it's one of the best places to eat fresh fish.
Even on a hot Fresno day, a bustling lunchtime crowd packs the little eating area on the south side of the store to chow down on noodle soup or a heaping pile of fish and chips. Government officials, librarians, office workers, and elderly regulars pack the seat-yourself dining room during the peak lunch hours of 11am to 1pm.
The special of the day is gyoza, stuffed with seasoned pork and lightly fried to perfection. The dumplings are served with a thick, spicy dipping sauce flavored with chopped green onions that adds a kick to the savory snack. For $4.95, the special includes 8 gyoza served on a bed of lettuce with a generous portion of rice.
The regular menu has a wide selection of quick Japanese favorites. Chicken, beef, or salmon teriyaki, squid, fish, chicken, or plain noodles, shrimp and vegetable tempura, and fish and chips. Carefully balanced on a heaping serving of French fries, the six huge fillets of fish are a bargain at less than $6.
For those looking for something not dipped in hot oil, Central Fish offers noodle soups and a can't-go-wrong, meal-sized cup of delicious miso soup for only $1.30, in what has to be the best health-conscious deal in town. Pre-packaged- but made on the premises- sushi is also on offer at the front of the store, easily snagged by the main entrance. American-sized California rolls are made with ripe avocado and expertly flavored rice, and won't break the bank at $6.50. If you have to buy pre-packed sushi, shouldn't it be from the Japanese?
It would be silly to opt for a fountain soda to wash down your meal when there are a wide variety of Asian whistle-wetters stocked in the grocery section. Take a beverage from the refrigerated selection: green teas, milk in a bottle, fruity sodas, or the standard American fare. "Pocari Sweat", a Japanese Gatorade-like beverage that supposedly replaces electrolytes, tastes surprisingly like sweat, with just a twist of lemon and sugar. This salty, lemonade thirst-quencher is the perfect companion to your pound-plus order of fish and chips. Just think of how dehydrated you can get walking to your car. Better get two.
No trip to Central Fish is complete without picking up a box of mochi ice cream- vanilla, green tea, or red bean ice cream wrapped in sweet, sticky rice dough. Take some back to the office.
Central Fish is located at 1535 Kern St, at G Street, in Chinatown. Open for lunch from 10:30am to 6pm Monday through Saturday, 11am to 5pm Sunday. Phone: 237-2049