HOME > Chowhound > Quebec (inc. Montreal) >


any update on the fish situation in Montreal?

I am wondering if anyone has come across new resources of procuring fish. Recent reports on La Mer were pretty discouraging (I think the endless banquet folks also retracted their praise after some unfortunate dead "live crab" experience). Coralli seems to be getting some good reports here, but it is not accesible easily by public transport. I still think there must be fish somewhere that is easily accessible for those who don't have a car or cannot ride a bike.

Most places at JTM sells fillets, which I am not comfortable with. I want to see the beast intact. I had some good sardines from Poissonnerie Antoine at Parc in the past, but that place is not that dependable. During my last visit most fish was limp with that "I've been dead for the last three weeks" eyes, and I had to make an excuse to not to buy and leave. I still try my chance once in a while, but looking and leaving is getting embarrasing.

Is there a secret place that people get their fish? Are there any resources in Chinatown that might sell fish to a whitey that only speaks English? With so many Greek and Portuguese immigrants in town, one would assume that there are some resources to get fresh fish. Somewhere out there. Share me your secret, pretty please!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. There is a fish monger in Chinatwon. on St. Laurent, east side, below LaGauchetierre. The store is below street level next to a Korean place. They'll sell to anyone. I often times see grouper, striper, and snapper on ice. They're big on live carp, tilapia, eel, and what looks like large-mouth bass (all in tanks).
    They always have lobster (usually $2 cheaper than other places) and vancouver crab. Ocasionally they have bullfrog, swimming shrimp, and live king crab.

    For a much better selection, there's Kim Phat on Taschereau. They have much more types of whole fish (both iced and in the tank), also fresh whelks, snails, giant oysters, rock crab (a great, cheap alternative to vancouver) clams, and more.
    It may be out of the way, but sometimes worth the trip.

    Speaking of which, we were in Toronto's chinatown a few weeks ago. Stopped in a whare-house looking market on Spadina. The fish selection was stupendous! The whole time, I'm yelling at the wife "look at this...look AT THIS...and THIS"
    All the time wondering why Toronto, a good 600km farther from the sea that MTL has such great selection....

    Then there was NYC...
    or 2 days spent in Sydney's fish market...

    2 Replies
    1. re: porker

      I'm from NYC and thought La Mer was pretty good, but things can change fast, I have not been to Chinatown for years but back then I thought it would be like Chinatown here with dozens of markets but could not find one, but thanks for the info , I will definately venture there next summer.
      What subway is near Khim Phat?

      1. re: porker

        The fishmonger on St. Laurent east side just below de la Gauchetiere, is in fact a traditional Chinese fishmonger. This place is not for the faint of heart, as they split live fish, and you will notice the iced split fish will still have a pumping heart.

        Once the organs stop, the gut the fish and sell it as cleaned, then if not sold, becomes a fillet.

        I can assure you that if you do but the fish with the pumping organs, that it is truly fresh. .... or robotic....

      2. How could someone purchase a dead "live"
        crab? In a bushel there may be one or 2 but,
        feistiness rather then sloth should decide freshness as in lobsters as well, the more violent the better.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tombombadillo

          See http://endlessbanquet.blogspot.com/20... and scroll down to entry No. 122.

          This coincides exactly with my experiences at La Mer. Sometimes it's fabulous, other times appalling.

          The only consistently good source of fish I'm aware of these days is Les Délices de la Mer at JTM. But the selection is very limited and nearly all the fish is in the form of fillets or steaks.

        2. Coralli is still not accessible "easily" by public transport, however service on the 54 bus (before just extended rush-hours) has been expanded throughout the day, though it is not frequent: see stm.info - that is also useful from a foodie standpoint for people who want to pick up vin en vrac at the SAQ Dépôt (and, I suppose, to go to Costco, but their large formats are very unfriendly for the carfree). SAQ Dépôt now sells bulk wine by 6s.

          1. I recently heard about the fishmonger "Nouveau Falero" on Parc (5726 Ave Parc, just before Bernard). The fish is very fresh, and there is a wide variety. I recommend the halibut, absolutely delicious...

            1 Reply
            1. re: english muffin

              We had some wild salmon from Nouveau Falero a few weeks back. it was fantastic!

            2. Howdy!

              Currently we are switching between the fish folk at the Atwater market (when we're feeling rich) Nouveau Falero (when we're in the neighborhood) and Les délices de la mer at the Jean Talon Market (the rest of the time).

              I'd also suggest emailing the current 'king' of seafood, Taras Grescoe ( http://www.tarasgrescoe.com ) he is local, knowledgeable and accessible.

              That all said, I will be trying Porker's Chinatown suggestion... it sounds great.

              3 Replies
              1. re: zekesgallery

                So when did Nouveau Falero stop being, to use the technical term, yucky?

                1. re: carswell


                  About two months ago.

                  As I noted in my original response, it is 'currently,' things with fish change, sometimes quite quickly.

                  1. re: zekesgallery

                    Falero is still hit and miss, I find, but it's my neighbourhood fish place so that's where I go. Sometimes their wild salmon looks pretty rough, for instance, like the bears might have had first shot, and I imagine they sell more salmon than anything. Mostly in the handling I think. Still, it's more hit than miss these days. The whole fish often look good. I do get tired of the need to occasionally be aggressive with a few of the guys working there. It's like you need to get engaged in some macho fish-buying routine and prove yourself to them. "I want fish and I'm not taking any sh** from you, buddy, or you're gonna wake up with a monkfish head in your bed." I actually saw one guy toss some very surprised Outremont lady her little bag of shrimp or shellfish across the counter once. I thought, "Did I just see that?" To be fair, there seems to be less of that style these days, maybe part of the recent improvement.

                    I believe Grescoe mentioned Falero recently in a Gazoo interview as a place he goes, again because it's his local joint, though he pointed out that he wished they'd stop selling Chilean sea bass.

                    I was in the store across from Thai Hour the other day, Marché Oriental, at Jean Talon and St. Denis. They have a small fish counter at the back and I saw whole tilapia, pompano, some other fish I didn't know. The whole fish looked pretty good but I wasn't shopping for fish so didn't look too closely. Anyone buy fish there?

              2. I've noticed that nobody ever mentions Waldman's in a discussion about fish shops, is there a reason for this? Is it considered to be bad?

                I usually go there for skate and muscles and for these things at least, it seems decent enough.

                6 Replies
                1. re: The Chemist

                  Waldman's used to ROCK, I used to go there instead of the aquarium, just to look around and not buy anything - what happened, I don't know.
                  I have a vague recollection that it was bought out (could it have been IGA or something?)
                  It was closed for quite awhile and was very different upon re-opening.

                  I have since returned, but was so saddened that I don't go anymore.

                  Hey Tombo, if you're used to NYC chinatown fish shops (I'm thinking Canal near Center or Mulberry) Montreal will pale in comparison.
                  Like I said the ones at Kim Phat on Taschereau are much better than that of chinatown.
                  There are two Kim Phats (actually a "Kim Phat" and "Marche Kim Phat") on Taschereau in Brossard, although my friends tell me they will be joined when the new chinese shopping pavillion is built. I like the one at 8080 Taschereau, there's another near The Scratch just north of the 10.

                  Both, I think, are far from any metro stop. Not having used the system for years, I'm assuming you gotta get to Longueuil then a bus ride.

                  1. re: porker

                    What's this about a chinese shopping pavillion? When, when??

                    1. re: hungryann

                      I've e-mailed a guy, waiting for more specifics, will get back.

                      1. re: hungryann

                        They are building a new Chinese strip mall on Taschereau right before highway 10, it will include a larger Kim Phat (they will merge their 2 locations in Brossard in only one) a Maison Kam Fung restaurant and probably some other asian shops.

                        As for the when, the construction is in the final stages i'd say, so expect an opening in the upcoming months

                          1. re: hungryann

                            Isn't there also a project in Old Chinatown, with a rooftop restaurant and asian shops? (food and otherwise).

                            Very hard for me to get to Brossard - sure it is technically cyclable, but I don't see bringing back perishable foodstuffs. And it is too expensive by public transport.

                  2. I'm no expert but, I've trekked up to United Seafood, at the top of Langelier Blvd/des Grand Prairies and found the prices good, selection excellent, store really clean and fish seemingly fresh.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: HungryLurker

                      Speaking about United reminded me about Norref. They used to be on de Lorimier and only did wholesaling. They moved to new digs on Molson (near Iberville and St. Josepf E.) and opened a retail shop - big selectioon and quite fresh.
                      I don't use that many product these days and its out of the way for me, so I rarely go there, but it is pretty good.

                      Their site shows they apparently have 'Odessa' locations as well, but don't know about these.


                      1. re: HungryLurker

                        United is great. They do wholesale to supermarkets and serve restaurants too. The quality, I've witnessed at their retail store was impeccable every time. I always make sure I go when I go through the area.

                      2. We've always sworn by La Mer, although I must say that we don't go with a request for specific fish--we always ask the guys what they recommend. Maybe its because we are loyal, but they will absolutely let us know (ie, we ask for tuna, they say "why don't you try the swordfish tonight *wink*"). I've certainly never had a bad experience there, but I will watch this thread to see if there are other relatively central suggestions.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: foodismyfriend

                          I'll stick with La Mer too. Fish is iffy more as a result of the supply chain rather than the outlet. Although for the most part I find that if you go without a specific fish in mind and just pick what's super fresh, La Mer will generally deliver. I did get some wormy cod once from there. Put me off cod for a while, but that is a common problem with cod apparently. I don't know anywhere else that has such a variety on offer , and items such a skate, mackerel, rascasse, striped bass and such like tend to be regularly fresh.

                          1. re: neilmcg

                            All cod is wormy, evidently, but a skilled fishmonger should be able to see worms against the light and remove them.

                            Anybody been to Norref?

                        2. I know this is heretic, and probably will make me lose my chow-cred but I recently had surprisingly good fish from (cough) Provigo (cough). A very chowish friend had suggested this before, and I remember looking at him in horror when I hear him say this; but apparently he was right. Provigo (and I guess Loblaws too, but I don't live close to one) could be a good resource if you don't have the wheels. The key is going there on the day their fish arrives, and for my local one this is Mondays and Thursdays (looks like the generic "fish arrival" dates, but YMMW). More importantly, you should know how to identify fresh fish (fillets do not need to apply)

                          Let me tell you guys how I was enlightened. I was eyeing the fish while passing by one Monday noon. I honestly had no hope, my motives were insidious. "Let me look at this pathetic fish and bitch a little bit more for my own pleasure", I thought. Then I saw it. Five large mackerels, with the blackest eyes and firmest skin, and one particularly more handsome than the others. My eyes met his clear eyes. It was a e-harmony moment, and at that point I knew it. A few minutes later, I had in my hand the freshest mackerel that I have seen on this side of the ocean. The whole beast cost me 3 bucks and change, and fed two very hungry people after being simply grilled on a cast iron griddle and drizzled with a light lemon/olive oil/ oregano sauce. Following weeks, I wasn't that lucky, or never made it on time, but I realized that there is hope. Of course some of the remaining mackerels stayed there for the next 10 days or so, waiting for a clueless person to buy them; but as long as you know what you are doing, unexpected places such as Provigo could be a source.

                          Is Provigo reliable? No, like almost all fishmongers in town, you cannot simply drop by and get out with something that you need for a planned recipe. You need to be there on the day fish arrives, and you need to be open minded about the species you get to ensure that you get the freshest one, but that I guess is given for a Chowhound.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: emerilcantcook

                            I thought the Parc Loblaws was fairly unique due to the Greek, Italian, South Aian and East Asian clients carefully eyeing the fish, but I've bought lovely fish there. I still find Atkins is better, for the limited choice they have, but that is sometimes too expensive for me. I've had lovely fish there - mostly fillets, but also smaller fish such as mackerel.

                            But I've heard bad stories about some other Loblaws and Provigo outlets. Guess it depends on the clientele, and the turnover.

                            1. re: lagatta

                              Yup, as I said, I wasn't always lucky, and some of the fish they sell in my local one look really pathetic (but so as some that are sold in "fishmongers"). I once saw the same salmon half sitting on the ice for 4-5 consecutive visits. The fish was turning into some grey glob on my last visit, god knows what they did with it afterwards (salmon burgers anyone? yuck). But then sometimes, if you are there on the right time, you can score a good one at Provigo. And since I treat my local one as a depanneur and stop by almost every day, I always check if there is anything new. However, I don't think I can trust them with fillets. I have an unnatural aversion towards previously cut/filleted fish and supermarket fish fillets sound very scary.