Slice of the Good Life
by Remy Tumin
Tucked away overlooking the Menemsha commercial fishing fleet, a pop-up sashimi shack is open for business under the tutelage of fishmonger Karsten Larsen.
Karsten, who has fished Vineyard waters for more than 40 years, only serves what he catches, so the fish dictate the hours. “I’m not always open, but when I’m open it’s always fresh,” he says.
Yellowfin, big eye and bluefin tuna will rotate on the menu depending on availability.
The yellowfin sells for $10 a box, and comes with pickled ginger, wasabi, soy sauce, and chopsticks. The big eye and bluefin cost a little more “but it’s worth it,” the fisherman assures.
For fishermen, or anyone out on the wa- ter, sashimi is a regular (and handy) snack.
“I love it, I always eat it out fishing,” Karsten says.
He built the 4 x 8 shack off-site, and brought it onto his lot sitting above the Dutcher Dock bulkhead. The shack door dates back to 1762, according to Karsten, and the original hardware on the wide board door is still in fine shape.
“I didn’t want it to look brand new, but I had no way to turn the shingles gray,” he says.
Karsten comes from a storied legacy of great fishermen with deep Island roots. He began sword fishing with his father when he was 6 years old. “He died when I was 12 and I kept fishing with my family…one thing led to another and I was running big offshore boats the last few years,” he remembers.
These days he can be seen helping out his cousin Betsy at Larsen’s Fish Market, or mingling with his brother Stanley, who owns Menemsha Fish Market just a few doors down the dock.
Back at his pop-up on a recent summer evening, Karsten keeps an eye on the sky as winds pick up and large clouds dip in front of the sun.
“The sun’s really bright all of a sudden, which means we’ve got a wicked storm coming, but maybe not,” he says. “I’ve been watching the weather radar and it looks like it’s going to be pretty swanky.”
Karsten only sells sashimi, no rolls or variations, per town rules. The shack opens around 5 p.m. and is open until dark.
“Honestly, I did it because I thought people would like it,” Larsen says of the new endeavor.
Customers can enjoy their fresh fish on the sawhorses or use the small counter space at the shack. But wherever you choose to eat your seafood snack, cold and right away tastes best.