To get a sense of a new place, visit some of its markets. Ducivan explores Sydney’s giant fish market and finds something to write home about
When I mentioned that I was going to Sydney, Australia, a friend advised me to visit the city’s amazing fish market. It’s the second largest fish market in the world after Tsukiji Market in Tokyo.
Located on the shore of Blackwattle Bay, the Sydney Fish Market was founded in the middle of the 20th century. Originally managed by the local government, it was privatized in 1994 and developed into a tourism spot.
In the early mornings, like at any fish market around the world, Sydney’s Fish Market is crowded with fishing boats. Auctions get underway and the market is busy and noisy. Hundreds of species of fish are on display. An estimated 20 tons of freshly-caught seafood is sold each hour.
Touring around the market I was impressed by the scale and professionalism of the seafood industry and the tourism business. The market is home to a cooking school, a sushi bar, bakeries, a tavern, beverage outlets, a florist, a vegetable and fruit market, and a gift shop. Visitors are led on an interesting tour to see the seafood auctions, meet fishermen, watch the processing of seafood, learn how to cook, and see the seafood being packaged. Big signs hang from the roof advertising types of seafood and prices.
On the weekends, local people often come here to buy fresh seafood and eat. Just as Hanoians are proud to introduce visitors to local dishes like Pho and Bun Cha, Sydney residents are eager to show visitors their impressive fish market. Australia is famous for its fresh and deliciously prepared seafood.
The market is stocked with so many species of seafood, both alive and processed. I even found Vietnamese catfish. The food stalls looked very attractive. I saw mouth-watering displays of cooked lobsters and stone crabs put on ice to keep them fresh. Everything is very hygienic. Seafood that doesn’t sell within one day is thrown out.
Worth the wait
People who love raw seafood should try freshly caught rock oysters from Coffin Bay. The raw salmon was amazing too. I doubt that any fancy restaurant could serve raw oysters and salmon as fresh and as sweet as those that I ate in this market. The stalls selling raw oysters and salmon were so popular that they had long queues out front. Because there weren’t enough chairs many people had to eat standing up, or squeeze several people onto a single seat. But the food was so good that nobody seemed to mind too much.
Outdoor seats along the shore are favorite places for visitors, although finding a place isn’t easy. Sitting by the seashore, in the shade of green palm trees rustling in the wind, you can gaze out at the bay while feasting on grilled lobster with mayonnaise, oyster cocktails and sushi. Just beware of the seagulls and other birds circling around, while they look pretty, these birds are so brazen that experienced diners have learned to cover their dinner with one hand. A moment of inattention can result in robbery as a bird dives for your plate, seizes a chunk of food and flies off in search of somewhere safe to eat, trailed by its noisy and jealous fellows.
A standard city tour of Sydney takes you to the Opera House, Sydney Bridge, Darling Harbour, the Rocks and Taronga Zoo. While all of these sites are worth visiting, I would add the Fish Market to the must-see list.