The corner of 24th and Mission streets is a unique pockets of San Francisco. Along 24th are some of the best Mexican restaurants, bakeries, and retail shops, a chunk of “old San Francisco” amid newer places like Wise Sons Deli, the Blind Cat, and that most unlikely of gems in this chest of treasures, Basa Seafood Express.
It’s the best fish market in San Francisco that you’ve never noticed. The little sibling of the Mission’s famous Sun Fat Seafood Co., Basa uses local ingredients to craft everyone’s fishy favorites. Whether patrons are looking for ceviche, nigiri, fish-and-chips, or fish tacos, the odds are that Basa has it and it’s good. I first stumbled in when I found myself craving a good cup of clam chowder. Without the patience for Swan Oyster Depot’s line or the time to wait until Bar Crudo opened at 5 p.m., Basa was next on the list. While there are other New England-style clam chowders in San Francisco, Basa’s is the closest to the original. It’s thick and creamy, with crunchy chunks of celery and soft bits of potato. It’s also chock-full of tender clams. The random grains of sand every once in a while remind me of home and how fresh the seafood that Basa uses really is. Ranging from $3.49 for a cup up to $6.49 for a bread bowl, the taste and price are as New England as it gets.
For a second course, go for any one of the sandwiches similar to those served in a clam shack. They’re complete with a hamburger bun, some lettuce, a big slice of tomato, a dab of mayo, and whatever fried fish your heart desires. I love fried oysters, shrimp, and scallops just as much as the next guy, but for only $7.99, the soft shell crab is the way to go. The crispy fried shell of the crab’s body and legs crack and crumble with every bite. There’s nothing like piping hot crab wrapped around cool and refreshing veggies and squished between two soft buns to take you right to the beach.
The third and final must-try is the spicy salmon poke. Unlike any other poke I’ve ever tasted, theirs is smooth and buttery, with a little spicy kick. The $6 dish comes in a little sushi tray, garnished with green onion, black sesame seeds, and both black and orange tobiko that pop and burst in your mouth. I can’t think of a more perfect way to finish off a little seafood buffet.
Next time you’re doing a taco crawl around the mission, take a break for a quick half-dozen oysters and a cup of chowda.
Basa Seafood Express, 3064 24th St., 415-550-2388 or basaseafood.com