Morgan the Egyptian

17 Jan

Morgan Fish Restaurant
2801 John F. Kennedy Blvd
Jersey City.

The temperature was dropping as I left my apartment on the way to the number 2 train. At 72nd Street I switched to the number 1 train. Two stops later I got off at 59th and onto the B train downtown. At 34th, I walked through the tunnel to the PATH train where I found Zio fumbling with a Metrocard/PATH vending machine. He was not clear what it took to gain entry on the PATH. He didn’t know that all it took was his Metrocard. Our next stop was our destination: Jersey City.

One of the several trains it took to get to Jersey City.

This journey was orchestrated by Gerry who, predictably, had chosen a place that would not be easy to get to. We were headed to a seafood place called Morgan Fish Restaurant. I think Morgan being the generic Captain Morgan because it certainly isn’t an Egyptian name and Morgan’s was most certainly an Egyptian establishment and one of the excuses Gerry used to drag us to Jersey City as he said: “To show solidarity with our Egyptian brothers and sisters.”

Zio and I arrived first and besides a woman sweeping the floor and another in the kitchen, we were the only people in Morgan’s. There were fresh fish displayed under a glass counter along with a platter of potato salad and small, pickled eggplants. The woman sweeping offered many friendly smiles, but either didn’t have much to say, or was hesitant because of language difficulties.

The fish of Morgan Fish

A man appeared. He did speak English and also possessed a friendly smile. He pointed to the fish; tilapia, striped sea bass, and branzino. There were also large, full-bodied shrimp and a few flattened pieces of uncooked calamari minus the tentacles. He could prepare the fish, he said, either fried or grilled.

We were hungry and while Gerry and the rest of the Westchester contingent were circling John F. Kennedy Blvd trying to locate Morgan Fish with Mike from Yonkers’ faulty GPS device, Zio and I hoped to get started with the ordering. The menu promised shrimp and/or seafood soup but our male host shook his head sadly: “Soup run out,” he said.

As we were about to order hummus and baba ganoush, (spelled humos and papa ghanoosh on the menu) the rest of the group, Rick included, entered. We found a table suitable for six and our host followed us in to commence with the ordering. We figured hummus, baba ganoush, and some of those tiny eggplants would be a good start. He concurred.

Before he could even get his winter coat off, Eugene was expounding on his Punta Cana vacation where the food at the all-inclusive Bavaro Beach resort was “incredible.” None of us, all stuck in this miserable New York winter, could debate his claim. I shut him off to concentrate on the menu.

Morgan’s menu

It was all simple enough. The question was how much to order and whether the fish should be fried or grilled. We compromised on fried shrimp and calamari along with one fried fish and one grilled. I don’t think we specified which fish should be fried or grilled; the branzino or the sea bass,  and when they arrived, none of us could tell the difference.

Fried shrimp and calamari

Our host brought not one, but two platters each of fried shrimp and fried calamari. Both were lightly crisped; the batter containing a distinctive dusting of some unidentifiable, but clearly Middle Eastern, spice. We picked through the calamari rings and shrimp, but, knowing we had two whole fish to also contend with, went slow and restrained ourselves from devouring them all.

Fish before

The fish was served with a brown (not health food brown) rice and a sofrito-like sauce. We took turns excising the flesh from the bones until all that remained were their skeletons.

Fish after

Once we were finished,  Zio, just making small talk,  mentioned his admiration for the movie, The Black Swan.

“Did you like the dance scenes,” Gerry asked.

“Huh,” Zio seemed surprised by the question. “No, the sex scenes,” he said with noticeable longing.

Eugene was studying his phone and then began to read from its tiny screen. “Natalie Portman. Born June 9, 1981 in Israel. Attended the Solomon Schecter Day School of Glen Cove, New York. First movie, “The Professional…”

What’s a nice girl from Glen Cove doing making Zio’s heart race?

Thankfully the check came and the Natalie Portman biography, as read by Eugene, was cut short. All that seafood and we were still a few dollars under our allotted $20 per person budget. Morgan Fish was a worthy choice, but just not one where it took four trains to get to. There had to be another way to show solidarity with our Egyptian brothers and sisters.

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