To get everyone through the dog days of summer, we've asked a handful of New York City literary types to write about a favorite, somewhat oddball restaurant, bar, or place of note that perhaps exists mostly off the radar. Here now, New Yorker cartoonist Farley Katz.
At the corner of Columbia and Degraw in Red Hook, among bars named after condiments and hip antique and ephemera shops, you’ll find Yeung Sun Live, a slaughterhouse. Out on the street it smells like death, and buckets of blood are strewn everywhere. But you can’t beat the prices if you’re looking for fresh duck, fowl, or rabbit.
Don’t be intimidated by the clan of scruffy cats milling around outside. They are just here to take in the smells and swipe the occasional stray piece of meat that washes out their way. Make sure not to pet them (see photo 2).
Affixed to the side of the slaughterhouse is a wooden menu (see photo 3), though it is rarely updated and is usually wrong. The only way to know for sure what is available on any given day is to walk in and see.
Once you acclimate to the smell, the first thing you’ll notice is how loud a hundred and fifty uncomfortable birds can be. For this reason, it’s probably not a great spot for a first date. It’s more of a third date, seal-the-deal type place.
If you asked me for a critique in the form of a bad pun, I’d tell you that the service here isn’t “killer.” After many minutes, when someone does eventually come out to help you, just point to the thing you want to eat, and a man in a yellow rubber suit will take this animal into the back room. When he reemerges, the critter has been relieved of his feathers (or fur) and is either whole or in convenient portion-sized pieces. It’s like a pet store for your stomach (see photo 4).
Yeung Sun caters primarily to restaurants, but the secret is they are more than happy to sell to civilians in any quantity, small or large. While I was there, I spoke with a family that operates a restaurant in Chinatown. They swear by Yeung Sun for all their poultry needs, noting that the slaughterhouses in Chinatown have all become too expensive. Plus, Yeung Sun has recently had some significant achievement, the kind that merits an official certificate (see photo 5).
If you have the urge to cook some birds, this is the place to go. Just get there early because the slaughtering in this house stops at 4PM. Oh, and don’t make the mistake of wearing flip-flops into the killing room. It’s not as sanitary as the name would lead you to believe.
— Farley Katz