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New May Wah - How Are The Prices Possible?

Kenois Sep 9, 2008 11:50 AM

This weekend I went to New May Wah in the Richmond District of SF and picked up some absolutely stunning sea scallops, head-on prawns, and whole snappers. The quality was staggering - absolutely fresh, no fishy smells, and cooked up wonderfully. What I do not understand is that the prices are so low as to be almost worrisome. How is this seafood priced so low, when 15 blocks up the street in Laurel Heights, the prices are stratospheric? Am I missing something? Help!

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  1. Robert Lauriston RE: Kenois Sep 9, 2008 12:05 PM

    Laurel Heights is one of the most expensive places to buy fish, and Chinese markets are among the cheapest.

    What were the prices, exactly?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston
      Kenois RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 9, 2008 12:08 PM

      They had jumbo sea scallops for $5.99 a pound. I think the snapper and prawns were even less expensive.

      1. re: Kenois
        Xiao Yang RE: Kenois Sep 10, 2008 10:53 AM

        Were the scallops so labeled in English? They may have been imitation scallops, cut from skate or some other fish.

    2. PeterL RE: Kenois Sep 9, 2008 01:08 PM

      Razor thin margins. Or maybe they are loss leaders.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PeterL
        ML8000 RE: PeterL Sep 9, 2008 01:24 PM

        Yes, plus super-low overhead and zero spoilage model (buy less or under demand). For most Chinese markets I don't think the loss leader thing works...most will simply buy that item and leave.

      2. Civil Bear RE: Kenois Sep 9, 2008 02:15 PM

        I go to NMW all the time for beef, pork, and live crabs in season, but have never felt comfortable purchasing the fish laying out on the ice beds all day. The seafood area typically smells a tad fishy to me.

        1. Chandavkl RE: Kenois Sep 9, 2008 02:21 PM

          A similar observation can be made regarding fresh produce, meat and seafood in Chinatown, and I think the answer is that most of these places are high volume, low margin enterprises. You'll see produce in a small market Chinatown that sometimes sells for two to three times the price at a chain supermarket. But you'll look around the market and see eight or ten workers continuously bringing out and perhaps packaging new produce, not to mention a dozen guys working the meat and seafood counter, three cashiers, and a line of customers six deep waiting to check out.

          1. singleguychef RE: Kenois Sep 9, 2008 03:47 PM

            Most Asian markets don't rely on marketing so they don't have that overhead cost of spending thousands for advertising, etc., which eventually finds its way into prices. And they're also often in neighborhoods that don't have really high lease costs for the space. So don't worry about the quality if the price is right for you. Price is not always equivalent to quality.

            2 Replies
            1. re: singleguychef
              Robert Lauriston RE: singleguychef Sep 10, 2008 09:41 AM

              That may all be true, but $6 a pound for sea scallops would be low for wholesale.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                Kenois RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 18, 2008 01:18 PM

                Update: I went home and checked my receipt. I was charged the price for bay scallops by accident. A friend stopped by and noticed that the sea scallops were actually $9.99/pound, which is still really cheap but makes much more sense. To Xiao Yang's point above, they were definitely sea scallops, but I was charged incorrectly. Now I feel guilty. Great stuff, tho!

            2. t
              theSauce RE: Kenois Sep 18, 2008 02:13 PM

              Not to be political because this is not the right platform for it, but NMW probably don't have to deal with union workers pay and other overhead expenses like health care and other benefits. Thus, like everyone said less overhead and prices are low.

              1 Reply
              1. re: theSauce
                Xiao Yang RE: theSauce Sep 18, 2008 05:45 PM

                Whole Foods doesn't have to deal with unon contracts, either. NMW has to follow City law re:living wages and health care benefits. They appear to be big enough to have been required to follow the paper shopping bag law, so it's evident they aren't flying under the City's radar.

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