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12 Impressive Whole Fish Dishes to Try in New York City

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For seafood purists, there is nothing better than a whole fish. Whether oven roasted, steamed, or charcoal grilled, fish cooked without being fileted keeps its full flavor. So for those who don't mind the bones, here's a list of 12 great whole fish dishes around the city. Some are simple, made with little more than herbs and a grill, while others involve more elaborate preparations. Go the Asian route and eat the cheeks and eyes, or, if you prefer not to stare into the face of their dinner, ask for it to be presented with just the tail.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Limani

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45 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10111
(212) 858-9200
At this highly designed, huge new addition to Rockefeller Center, former Milos executive chef MJ Alam manages to get most pristine fish around, and in the Greek fashion, displays a daily selection of whole catch on ice. There are a couple whole fish options here, including a Dover sole and a pink snapper for two. Plus there's a glowing infinity pool in the middle of the restaurant, so it's practically like being in Mykonos.

2. All’onda

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22 E 13th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 231-2236
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At his creative Venetian-Japanese hit, Chris Jaeckle offers a two-pound plus Mediterranean branzino for two, grilled whole with ginger, garlic, lemon, and stuffed with parsley, mint and chervil. It’s deboned and served with house-made, barrel-aged fish sauce. And just thanks to size along, the resulting fish is meatier and more flavorful that its smaller counterparts. [Krieger]

3. Barchetta

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461 W 23rd St
New York, NY 10011
(212) 255-7400
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Chef David Pasternack, an expert in the realm of seafood, grills his “Orata Americana” (otherwise known as local porgy) over lava rocks. The fish prepared simply, stuffed with lemon, Italian parsley, and rosemary. [Yelp]

4. Khe-Yo

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157 Duane St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 587-1089
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At Marc Forgione's Laotian-leaning restaurant, whole Sea Bream is scored, floured and fried until the skin is super crisp, then glazed with a caramel fish sauce and served with tamarind-peanut sauce and crispy shallots. It also comes with a mound of lettuce leaves, which diners are meant to wrap chunks of fish with. [Photo courtesy Khe-Yo]

5. The Sea Fire Grill

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158 E 48th St
New York, NY 10017
(212) 935-3785
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Remarkably fresh, oversized Mediterranean branzino is grilled simply with olive oil and capers, then fileted tableside at this cozy restaurant. As a bonus for these winter months, the dining room has a roaring fire in the back.

6. Bustan

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487 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024
Though open less than a year, this Mediterranean restaurant has already become one of the most popular spots on the Upper West Side. Whole, meaty branzino flown in from the Mediterranean are stuffed with rosemary and garlic, drizzled with a lemon and olive oil dressing, sprinkled with sea salt, and finally roast in a clay oven. [Photo courtesy of Bustan]

7. 212 Steakhouse

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316 E 53rd St
New York, NY 10022
(212) 858-0646
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A steakhouse may seem like an odd choice as one of the standout whole fish establishments, but Chef Christos Kalamvokis sources his branzino and dorade from his native Greece, and, at $27 per pound, it’s a great deal. He grills is whole and offers it up deboned with lemon, dill and capers. [Photo courtesy of 212 Steakhouse]

8. Sachi Asian Bistro

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713 2nd Avenue
New York, NY
(212) 297-1883
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Pichet Ong’s new pan-Asian restaurant flash fries whole red snapper, then glazes it with tamarind chili jam made with basil, pineapple and shishito peppers. The whole thing gets served with ginger vinaigrette over jasmine brown rice. [Photo courtesy Sachi Asian Bistro]

9. 21 Club

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21 W 52nd St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 582-7200
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Among the old school classics on the menu at this legendary restaurant is a whole New Zealand pink snapper, cooked a la plancha. It's served butterflied, and finished in a lemon caper butter, alongside smashed and roasted fingerlings and a leek fondue. [Krieger]

10. Lure Fishbar

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142 Mercer St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 431-7676
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Dorade flown in twice a week from the Mediterranean is the whole fish of choice at this Soho favorite, which is still hopping after ten years. Chef Josh Capon removes the inner skeleton and rubs the inside with fresh herbs and olive oil. He then seasons the skin, grills it, and finishes the fish with lemon shallot vinaigrette and fresh thyme. [Krieger]

11. M. Wells Steakhouse

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43-15 Crescent St
Long Island City, NY 11101
(718) 786-9060
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It's hard to find a fresher fish dinner than the truite au bleu at Hugue Dufour's Montreal-style Long Island CIty steakhouse, where trout is kept swimming in a cement tank in the kitchen. Once ordered, a chef fishes one out, kills and cleans it, then bathes it in white wine vinegar, which reacts with enzymes in the skin and turns it blue. The trout is poached with court bouillon, potatoes, and cabbage, then dressed with brown butter, remoulade, and chives. [Marguerite Preston]

12. Mission Chinese Food

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171 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002
(212) 529-8800
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Along with cheese pizzas and naan, Danny Bowien is cooking whole fish in the wood fired oven at the newly opened Mission Chinese. It's cooked "drunken style," dressed with charred, pickled chilies, fresh turmeric, and Szechuan peppercorn oil. [Ben Jay]

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1. Limani

45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111
At this highly designed, huge new addition to Rockefeller Center, former Milos executive chef MJ Alam manages to get most pristine fish around, and in the Greek fashion, displays a daily selection of whole catch on ice. There are a couple whole fish options here, including a Dover sole and a pink snapper for two. Plus there's a glowing infinity pool in the middle of the restaurant, so it's practically like being in Mykonos.
45 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10111

2. All’onda

22 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003
Read Review |
At his creative Venetian-Japanese hit, Chris Jaeckle offers a two-pound plus Mediterranean branzino for two, grilled whole with ginger, garlic, lemon, and stuffed with parsley, mint and chervil. It’s deboned and served with house-made, barrel-aged fish sauce. And just thanks to size along, the resulting fish is meatier and more flavorful that its smaller counterparts. [Krieger]
22 E 13th St
New York, NY 10003

3. Barchetta

461 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011
Chef David Pasternack, an expert in the realm of seafood, grills his “Orata Americana” (otherwise known as local porgy) over lava rocks. The fish prepared simply, stuffed with lemon, Italian parsley, and rosemary. [Yelp]
461 W 23rd St
New York, NY 10011

4. Khe-Yo

157 Duane St, New York, NY 10013
At Marc Forgione's Laotian-leaning restaurant, whole Sea Bream is scored, floured and fried until the skin is super crisp, then glazed with a caramel fish sauce and served with tamarind-peanut sauce and crispy shallots. It also comes with a mound of lettuce leaves, which diners are meant to wrap chunks of fish with. [Photo courtesy Khe-Yo]
157 Duane St
New York, NY 10013

5. The Sea Fire Grill

158 E 48th St, New York, NY 10017
Remarkably fresh, oversized Mediterranean branzino is grilled simply with olive oil and capers, then fileted tableside at this cozy restaurant. As a bonus for these winter months, the dining room has a roaring fire in the back.
158 E 48th St
New York, NY 10017

6. Bustan

487 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
Though open less than a year, this Mediterranean restaurant has already become one of the most popular spots on the Upper West Side. Whole, meaty branzino flown in from the Mediterranean are stuffed with rosemary and garlic, drizzled with a lemon and olive oil dressing, sprinkled with sea salt, and finally roast in a clay oven. [Photo courtesy of Bustan]
487 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024

7. 212 Steakhouse

316 E 53rd St, New York, NY 10022
A steakhouse may seem like an odd choice as one of the standout whole fish establishments, but Chef Christos Kalamvokis sources his branzino and dorade from his native Greece, and, at $27 per pound, it’s a great deal. He grills is whole and offers it up deboned with lemon, dill and capers. [Photo courtesy of 212 Steakhouse]
316 E 53rd St
New York, NY 10022

8. Sachi Asian Bistro

713 2nd Avenue, New York, NY
Pichet Ong’s new pan-Asian restaurant flash fries whole red snapper, then glazes it with tamarind chili jam made with basil, pineapple and shishito peppers. The whole thing gets served with ginger vinaigrette over jasmine brown rice. [Photo courtesy Sachi Asian Bistro]
713 2nd Avenue
New York, NY

9. 21 Club

21 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019
Among the old school classics on the menu at this legendary restaurant is a whole New Zealand pink snapper, cooked a la plancha. It's served butterflied, and finished in a lemon caper butter, alongside smashed and roasted fingerlings and a leek fondue. [Krieger]
21 W 52nd St
New York, NY 10019

10. Lure Fishbar

142 Mercer St, New York, NY 10012
Dorade flown in twice a week from the Mediterranean is the whole fish of choice at this Soho favorite, which is still hopping after ten years. Chef Josh Capon removes the inner skeleton and rubs the inside with fresh herbs and olive oil. He then seasons the skin, grills it, and finishes the fish with lemon shallot vinaigrette and fresh thyme. [Krieger]
142 Mercer St
New York, NY 10012

11. M. Wells Steakhouse

43-15 Crescent St, Long Island City, NY 11101
It's hard to find a fresher fish dinner than the truite au bleu at Hugue Dufour's Montreal-style Long Island CIty steakhouse, where trout is kept swimming in a cement tank in the kitchen. Once ordered, a chef fishes one out, kills and cleans it, then bathes it in white wine vinegar, which reacts with enzymes in the skin and turns it blue. The trout is poached with court bouillon, potatoes, and cabbage, then dressed with brown butter, remoulade, and chives. [Marguerite Preston]
43-15 Crescent St
Long Island City, NY 11101

12. Mission Chinese Food

171 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002
Along with cheese pizzas and naan, Danny Bowien is cooking whole fish in the wood fired oven at the newly opened Mission Chinese. It's cooked "drunken style," dressed with charred, pickled chilies, fresh turmeric, and Szechuan peppercorn oil. [Ben Jay]
171 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002

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