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Best Smoked Fish selection - Brooklyn

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Would love to know chowhounders favorite choices for smoked fish and salads in Brooklyn.

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    uncle moishy

    The days when every nominally Jewish neighborhood had an "appetizing" store (and a deli) are long gone. In Brooklyn, you get what you can at the bagel stores, which are mostly erratic, in my opinion.

    The Kosher Bagel Hole, with 2 branches in my neighborhood (Flatbush/Midwood) offers reasonable lox, sable and whitefish. Since lox-slicing is a mysterious and apparently lost art, they pre-slice it in the rear of the store into (approx.) 1/4-pound packages. This means that if business is slow, you might buy a package that was sliced a while ago; the lox might be a little dried out. I've also found that if you buy a whitefish and have them filet it for you, the results are sometimes not so boneless. As for salads, I can only speak to their tuna, which they buy elsewhere (Sally Sherman, perhaps?). It is extremely wet -- mucho mayo. I used to buy a small portion, bring it home, then add an extra can of tuna from my cupboard.

    Least impressive about the KB Hole is their catering. They use prepackaged inferior style lox (the kind you can buy in a supermarket anywhere), even if you ask specifically that they don't (as I did at my son's bris many moons ago). The last time I ate one of their fish platters (more recently), they were still using it, plus the whitefish was small, dry and closer to brown than white.

    So all and all, the KB Hole is a pale imitation of a real appetizing store, but it's also the only game in town where I live.

    There used to be a cheese store on Av J that sold smoked fish too. It was dirty and run by surly people, but the food wasn't that bad. There was also a cheese store on Av M. It was horrible. For all I know it might still be there.

    Also on Av. M (off E 19 St) is the Meichel Master. It has some really good stuff, but mostly prepared dairy and pareve food. Only a small selection of fish and cheese in the back of the store. But I can heartily endorse their blintzes, bourekas, knishes, kugels, vegicutlets and their tuna salad, which they clearly make themselves (easy on the celery, with a good dose of dill). They also have some very good-looking baked goods, which I don't buy. They don't have a "name-brand" hashgacha (I don't remember who it is, to be honest), but judging by their clientele, that doesn't seem to be as big an issue for dairy places as it is for meat (see also Cafe K).

    So the bottom line is: I hope someone can give you a better answer to your question than I have. And if anyone out there knows where to find decent vegetable farmer cheese, I'd like to know that too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: uncle moishy

      I always get my appetizing at the original Kosher Bagel Hole branch, on Coney Island Avenue, between Aves. J and K.
      For some reason, I like it better than the Avenue J branch. The items that I regularly buy, are the (novie) lox, sable, herring filets in cream sauce, chive cream cheese, and bagels. I have been very satisfied with the taste, freshness, and quality of these foods, 99+ percent of the time. Once in a blue moon, I have found the sable overly salty, but it's usually delicious, and very fresh. I can't comment about the salads, as I've never purchased them.

    2. There is a Schwart's Appetizing on Avenue M. at Nostrand Avenue. Don't know about quality but Shwartz's is famous.

      1. I recommend Altogether Appetizing on Avenue P and E. 4th St.

        1. My shul gets fish platters from the kollel store, and they always seem quite nice.

          1. schwartz' still slices the lox for you. They are most famous for their herring.

            I like bagel hole on coney as well, but I'm not a huge fish person.

            Meichel master is closed.

            Flaum's in Williamsburgh is good as well.

            1. Packaged smoked fish is better than ever. Acme fish is the best and biggest and it's in Brooklyn. You can get it at Fairway and many other supermarkets in the NY area.

              1. You can also go to Acme Fridays (30 Gem St) and buy directly from them. Totally agree that their stuff is great.

                1. The reality is that the new kosher consumers are not as smoked-fish oriented as those of years ago. Today smoked fish is more of popular specialty among American Jews who don't keep koshe than among the strictly orthodox. The "heimishe" criowd doesn't take their lox as seriously. Flaum was sold a few years ago and the new guys are closer to mass production and less of an artisanal herring company. Cheese d'Lox in Boro Park was very good, but has just been renovated under new ownership and has yet to build a reputation. I think everyone is buying from a few producers, Acme, Banner, Service, Blue Ribbon, Lasco and a couple of otehrs nobody smokes their own. Some people think the fresh Scotch Salmon (which is available with hashgocho) to be better than any of them, but that is a matter of taste. A few caterers have excellent gravlax, but I have never seen it in a grocery or appetizing store.

                  1. buy a fresh smoked whitefish and make your own smokefish salad.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: smartie

                      Seeing as DeeDee asked this over two years ago, I'm thinking that she's probably gotten her smoked fish by now.

                      That Acme suggestion above interested me -- I've seen their truck parked outside some really good takeout places, and now I'm thinking that they're the ones who make that really good whitefish salad. Too bad I can't buy their stuff directly here in Manhattan and eliminate the middleman.

                      (Just noticed the post above about being able to get it directly at Fairway. I'm going to get it there this Sunday. Thanks!)

                    2. I make my own Gravlax and I prefer it to any smoked salmon that I've ever had. I agree with Smartie. Make your own whitefish salad from a smoked whitefish.
                      I don't think that the commercial smoked fish is as good as it used to be. Or maybe I associate smoked fish with happy family dinners and I have euphoric recall.

                      1. thanks Sharon. I make whitefish salad by pulling the fish off the bones, finely chopping some white onions and mixing a little Hellmans, salt and pepper.

                        1. I think white fish has enough natural oils that you don't need Hellmann's.

                          1. a small amount of Hellmans binds it