Walton Way is a main artery through Augusta, Georgia, featuring countless fast food franchises and a smattering of actually interesting places to eat. In the latter category is Augusta Fish Market & Restaurant. It is indeed a fish market, selling raw shellfish and flatfish for cooking elsewhere; but at lunch and supper, neighborhood folks come to either take out cooked meals in Styrofoam containers or to eat at tables and booths in the restaurant (where, also, meals are served in Styrofoam containers).
Most of what’s cooked is fried: shrimp, scallops, oysters, flounder, whiting, mullet, catfish. I’ve enjoyed much of what I’ve eaten: good nutty shrimp, luscious flounder, decent oysters; but will not again be ordering the too-fishy scallops or whiting that seemed to have enough bones for two skeletons. Perfunctory hushpuppies are available on the side; and the fry kettles also yield chicken wings in various flavors and degrees of heat.
A page of the menu is devoted to boilerplate Chinese fare, including lo mein, sesame chicken, fried rice, and all kinds of stir-fries cooked in large woks behind the fresh-fish cases. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I am a sucker for the bastardized Chinese-American dish, unknown in China — General Tso’s chicken. It is here listed as General Tao’s chicken, but Tao is the same formula as Tso: squiggles of dark meat that get thickly battered and fried to a crisp then heavily glazed with sauce that is candy-sweet and pepper-hot and about as nutritionally incorrect at a food can be. Although the menu shows a little red pepper next to its listing, General Tao in this place is quite mild mannered. I do recommend the Fish Market’s unctuous wok-fried rice, laced with reefs of scrambled egg and sweet little onion petals and containing beef, shrimp, pork, chicken, vegetables or — my favorite — little cubes of ham.
As you might guess from the disposable dishware, prices are low. Fish plates are $10 or less, as are all but the most deluxe Chinese dishes. The fried seafood is fine (most of it), but I keep this place in reserve for when the occasional craving for vintage Chinese-American food strikes and only the most démodé meal will do.