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Jan 26, 2008 11:55 AM

Seafood Markets in Kansas City

I am often looking to purchase good seafood in Kansas City, but more often than not, I'm stuck with Whole Foods Market, who invariably thaws out frozen fish and leaves it sit all day, then charges a 200% mark-up, calling it "fresh", or braving the stench of the "Seafood Counter" at any of the chain grocery stores.

Other than the Asian marketplaces, where the origin, health, and containing facilities are of question, are there any good places in KC to buy something other than Catfish, Cod, Tilapia, and the occasional Orange Roughy? Frozen is fact, it's better than fine, since the fish had darned-well better have been frozen for its trip to Kansas City in the first place, and I'm perfectly capable of thawing it at my leisure.

I'd like to find some Patagonian Toothfish (Chilean Sea Bass), or some Grey Mullet, but the closest thing I've found to Grey Mullet in KC happens to be perched atop Jack Harry's head.

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  1. I'm going to suggest something, but if you go, you have to promise to report back.

    There is this place called Seattle Fish, down in the East Bottoms, near Knuckleheads. They look like a seafood importer/wholesaler, but I think I've seen a sign up saying they sell to the general public. I have always been intrigued.

    Seattle Fish
    2800 Guinotte Ave
    Kansas City, MO 64120

    (816) 920-7070

    Another wholesaler isFabulous Fish in Columbus Park. You might try calling them as well.

    Fabulous Fish
    311 Charlotte St
    Kansas City, MO 64106

    (816) 221-0033

    6 Replies
    1. re: heatherkay

      Yes - you better report out on Seattle Fish!

      Does McGonigals have seafood? On Ward Parkway?

      1. re: stellamystar

        They do have seafood and occasionally they have something other than tilapia, etc. I'm not always that impressed.

      2. re: heatherkay

        Unfortunately Heatherkay is correct. Seattle & Fabulous are the 2 fish companies in KC. There is also Morey’s in the industrial district in NKC. The problem is ALL the grocery stores in the Metro get their fish from these three companies. Some may ship in from other cities but probably not many. I’ll bet even Whole Foods buys from them too.

        The problem with the fish companies here is they freeze almost everything. You can tell when you press the flesh that it has been compromised. I don’t blame them either. Fish is a tough business. Imagine guessing how much VERY expensive product your customers are going to order in a weekend and having to make sure you don’t run out. Almost every nice restaurant in KC flies their fish in from either the East or West coast or even Chicago.

        You will hear chefs and fish people say the Midwest gets all the good fish and the coast restaurants get the second pick. If that’s true, they are sending it to Chicago or other MW towns because it’s not coming here!!!! And if it is, the fish companies really need to learn how to handle their product. Cause it sucks right now. Other than that you might want to talk to the restaurants you frequent and see if they will order for you. I have been known to do that in the past.

        BTW, Sirregular you might want to check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium and their sustainable seafood program. It will tell what fish is good to buy and which ones are endangered. Patagonian Toothfish (Chilean Sea Bass) is highly endangered and should not be consumed.
        The funny thing is any restaurant worth its salt should know that and I am constantly surprised when I see it on menus.

        Happy eating!

        1. re: KCMOChef

          CSB is not endangered! Your info is about twenty years old. There used to be huge problems with poaching and over fishing, but the Chilean government cracked down hard on the culprits and stocks have replenished. As a matter of fact the Marine Stewardship Council has recently certified one of the CSB fisheries as sustainable. This is a designation that only 25 other fisheries including Alaskan salmon and halibut have obtained. Read current studies don't rely on past misinformation. The Monterey Bay guide is all black and white, fish issues are grey at best.

          1. re: fishface

            Chilean sea bass takes nine to 10 years to reach maturity and has a lifespan of 40 years. A sustainable fish like the sardine, by contrast, matures in less than 15 months.

            The notion of an oasis of sustainable, productive Chilean sea bass can be compared to hitting oil in your Alaskan backyard, selling it in controlled amounts, and saying it is different because you are pumping it at regulated amounts. It still doesn't solve the overall energy/global warming problem.

        2. re: heatherkay

          to follow up -- I drove past Seattle Fish today. They do share a parking lot with Central Produce and Village Gardens Florists, both wholesalers that sell to the general public. However, Seattle Fish did NOT have any indication that they retail. Wouldn't hurt to call though and see if you can get something that "fell off the truck."

        3. i think your quest find fish that meets your requirments might be easier said than done...but check out the folks at Cal-Ann (The living basil people - you can get that product at HenHouse) the also raise talipia and sell it locally at a couple of markets (they were profiled in a past issue of the Star food section.)

          1 Reply
          1. re: goroe

            I think their tilapia is available at 888 market on 87th St. east of I-35 a mile (?) or so, on the north side of the street. It's in a shopping center that sits back from the road, so please have a look at the map if you go. I haven't bought fish there, but remember hearing positive reviews from another KC CH.

            888 Market
            9848 W 87th St, Overland Park, KS

            1. re: jdl98

              i have never heard anything good about the seafood from Costco from people who should know- a chef/restau rantconsultant here in KC told me to never eat anything from there. I'm a costco customer but just not the seafood- i don't see how a distribution company that large, working on low margin could offer food at a quality worth considering. its about price for them.

              1. re: goroe

                ok, maybe i stand corrected. to me, the seafood at costco (and it's usually "fresh") looks much better than what I see at most stores around here.

                1. re: goroe

                  Costco IS about quality much more so than Wal*Mart etc. + they're based in Kirkland Washington so I'm not sure your theory holds.

                  1. re: bbqboy

                    as far as I'm concerned Costco has good seafood,for the last 2 years on my yearly trip to Kansas,I bought fresh seafood,and it was brought in fresh,I bought fresh haddock, the trout is also fresh,I would open the package though to smell it,due only to the refridgeration system they have once they put it out, call to speak to the fish manager and ask what day they get their fresh fish,I worked for a trucking company one of many I'm sure who hauled their food, believe me Costco is very very picky about their food and how it arrives,my company had many a claims filed when the products arrived not up to their standards and we had to pay as Costco would not accept the food,having said that, i would not be making a 200 mile trip every year to load up on my food from them.

                    1. re: mutti

                      Glad to hear this and it's what I would expect from Costco. It appears to be good quality and what I've had is always great. Most of what I've seen at the grocery stores around here looks unedible. If fact, we picked up some snapper at Hen House last and ended up returning b/c it smelled so awful.

                    2. re: bbqboy

                      whats being based in Kirkland WA have to do with it? COSTCO was a customer of ours (not seafood) so I do know a little about how they operate. I've been to that office quite a few times and there's no fish growing/catching facility there. They are concerned with quality, more than other retailers, but they are moving their seafood as far as anyone else.
                      There is a growing shrimp industry in Missouri (as well as IN, IL, AR, KY, TN) its not as easy to find but it is worth it. The Malaysian Fresh Water Prawns that we purchased were delicious- and the shrimp stock we made, made for unreal risotto. you can see a video we took of last years harvest on youtube.

                2. Any updates on this? Last night I spent $17 at Whole Foods for trout that was inedible.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: SFLisa

                    Yeah, I don't like that when you ask WFM seafood employees what came in today, they sigh and say "everything." Yeah, sure. That's why they have so much value added product like salmn burgers. Eh.

                    I've had good luck thus far with Costco fish. but have only tried the Alaskan halibut and Pacific cod thus far. Both were fresh and quite good. I will add that I only buy fish on the day they put it out. I generally shop in the morning, so I know it's only been out a couple hours at most, and I put it on ice in a chest for the ride home, then cook it that evening. It does leach a lot of liquid, from thawing, no doubt, but the flesh has been firm and tasty on both purchases, no complaints. I'll probably try the trout next.

                    1. re: amyzan

                      I wanted to add to this previous post that the Pacific cod has declined in quality at Costco. The last time I bought it, the fillets were almost all tail end, and pretty scrawny.

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