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Diana’s Seafood – fresh fish, great value (review + pics)

BokChoi Jan 8, 2009 10:36 AM

Happy New Year CHers. It’s been a while since my last post and scan of the board. During my time away I noticed a number of inquiries come up on Diana’s seafood. Sorry I could not make this post earlier to help Googs and others out. Either way, perhaps it can now be of some assistance to others.

Since I wandered into Diana's a little over a year ago, I have never bothered stepping foot into another fishmonger. The seafood they offer is exceptionally fresh and the selection is wondrous. The prices are very reasonable and IMO it is the best value in the city that I have discovered so far. Though I sometimes get live Tilapia from Chinese grocery stores for steaming and Chinese preparations, I go to Diana’s for all other types of fish and shellfish. I appreciate the availability of whole fresh fish, rather than the filets/steaks that SLM offers. The vast selection of oysters is also a lure for me.

When you enter the store, it has a pleasant fresh aroma. No heavy solvent smell, nor stale fish smell. You face a giant lobster tank when you first enter (I believe they are going for $9.99/lb currently) and a display of whole certified organic salmon at about $5.99/lb (prices are subject to change of course, but this was the price on my most recent visit):

Salmon: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

There are two columns of fridges/fish kept on ice. In the whole fish section there are porgies (several different varieties), red snapper, mackerels, flounder, striped bass, black cod, etc. They also offer the whole fish in a filet form on the other side. If you buy the whole fish, you can have them prepare it (filet, clean, etc.) after you pay for the fish at the cleaning counter.

Whole fish selection with prices: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Photo 2 with prices: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Some prices: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Fillet/fish steak section (with prices): http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Salmon filet/steaks: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Filets with prices: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
More fish with prices: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Shrimp and Squids: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Clams with prices: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Oyster selection: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
More oysters: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

They supply the oysters to Starfish and to Rodney’s as well (the owner did a plug for Starfish when I was there and the Rodney’s car is often parked outside when I go). So if there is an oyster you ‘discover’ you love on a visit to Starfish, head to Diana’s the next day and pick up some for home shucking. It’s a great deal, provided you’re a good 'shucker'. They sell shuckers at the cash register if you need one. I received a lesson on my first visit to Diana's, but I have yet to master it with the quick flick of the wrist like the pros do it.

Recently, I have noticed that they stock sea urchin regularly – both in their shells and with the roe/gonads removed and put into trays. I believe the trays are a great deal and having done price comparisons with Sakana-ya and Taro’s, I believe that Diana’s offers the best deal. The quality is also exceptional. Great texture since it isn’t just mushy, but has a nice ‘shell’ around the silky smooth milky interior. On my last visit, the owner (a great guy that always tries to remember his customers) mentioned that they were just flown in yesterday. If you prefer the live/fresher urchins and do the cleaning yourself (not too difficult once you get the hang of it), they have the whole urchins – but don’t think you’re getting much of a better deal on those. I believe the fresh urchins were around $6/lb and about 1.5lbs each. At $20 for that tray, I would definitely go with the trays (it is the equivalent of 2 urchins per tray).

Fresh Uni and scallops in shell: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Here is a photo of a red snapper I bought a little while ago. You can see the freshness of the fish in this close-up. The eyes are exceptionally clear.

Red Snapper: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

The fish was then steamed and turned into this soba dish: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
The flesh was incredibly sweet and succulent.
Another snapper was stuffed and then grilled: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-... stuffed: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Do pay Diana’s Seafood a visit because I definitely believe it is worth the drive to Scarborough. And while you’re there, do the combo visit that I often do: stop by Arz for some baklava and baked goods. Though the baklavas have slipped a bit recently (IMO), they are still a nice treat.

Arz Baklava: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Photo 2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

If anyone has any other suggestions for fishmongers in the Scarborough area, please let me know. I would always like to discover something new. TIA.

I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday and may 2009 bring more happy eats for all!

Cheers and Happy Eating!

Diana's Seafood Delight
2101 Lawrence Ave. East
Toronto, Ontario
M1R 3C3
416.288.9286

Hours of operation:
Sunday 10am - 5pm
Monday 9am - 6pm
Tuesday 9am - 7pm
Wednesday 9am - 7pm
Thursday 9am - 7pm
Friday 9am - 7pm
Saturday 9am - 6pm
http://www.dianasseafood.com/contact....

Arz

1909 Lawrence Ave. E. (at Warden
)416-755-5084

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  1. c
    CoffeeAddict416 RE: BokChoi Jan 8, 2009 10:50 AM

    If there's something i miss more living downtown than having access to good Chinese food it's not being able to visit Diana's more often or that Lawrence Ave strip. I'm within walking distance of SLM but it's just not the same as Diana's!

    5 Replies
    1. re: CoffeeAddict416
      BokChoi RE: CoffeeAddict416 Jan 8, 2009 11:06 AM

      It is definitely on my list of places that I wish were always near my home wherever I may move to in the future. So I would definitely agree with you.

      Places to take with me if and when I move:
      Grand Chinese Cuisine
      Diana's Seafood
      Ruby Chinese Restaurant
      Fantasy Eatery
      SLM
      J-Town/Zen
      Lotus Pond

      1. re: BokChoi
        sugarcube RE: BokChoi Jan 19, 2009 08:32 PM

        Hi BokChoi,

        What does SLM stand for and what type of cuisine do they serve?

        Thanks
        SC

        1. re: sugarcube
          t
          tjr RE: sugarcube Jan 19, 2009 09:04 PM

          Allow me to answer... St. Lawrence Market.

          1. re: tjr
            BokChoi RE: tjr Jan 20, 2009 01:00 PM

            Thanks tjr. SC - sorry for the confusion.

            1. re: BokChoi
              sugarcube RE: BokChoi Jan 20, 2009 07:37 PM

              Thanks for the info Tjr.

              No problem BokChoi.

    2. p
      Pigurd RE: childofthestorm Jan 8, 2009 11:28 AM

      i've also been there recently and bought some scallops, kumamotos and some oysters that cost the same as kumamotoes but forget the name... they were not bad, but one of the oysters were rotten, it smelled like a port-o-potty when i opened it.... is this normal when buying oysters? the counter lady chose them for us....

      i was hoping for more seafoods there that could be eaten raw though... or are these not marked? (can you eat chilean sea bass sashimi???)

      6 Replies
      1. re: Pigurd
        BokChoi RE: Pigurd Jan 8, 2009 11:54 AM

        Smelling like port-o-potty is not normal. Though some do have stronger, more metallic scents. Personally, I prefer the creamier West coast ones (Fanny Bays, Kumos, etc) and they do have a smell about them. I have never had a bad one though. However, one time I didn't finish them on the day I got them, they did start to smell a bit (and taste was off).

        It is best to ask them - though I have heard some fish mongers claim that all their fish are sushi quality (like Seafront at SLM). So I have snuck in a few pieces of Sea Bass into a sashimi platter I made for myself and I did not have any adverse consequences. But who knows... I don't want to think about what could have happened. I find it odd though that they would label some fish as "sushi quality" (such as salmon or tuna) and not bother with any of the other fish sitting next door to them. Makes me think that they are not.

        1. re: BokChoi
          c
          CoffeeAddict416 RE: BokChoi Jan 8, 2009 12:12 PM

          just as an aside i haven't yet found any information regarding any regulations the ontario or canadian government have for restaurants or supermarkets labelling items as "sushi/sashimi quality". I did a search on the Dept of Oceans and Fisheries site and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and couldn't find anything at all about this term.

          Anyone have some new info on this or if it's purely a marketing term only?

          1. re: CoffeeAddict416
            t
            tjr RE: CoffeeAddict416 Jan 8, 2009 09:42 PM

            There was a posting at some point a few months ago with links regarding "sashimi-grade" fish. It basically means that the fish were frozen to the appropriate temperature for parasite destruction. Unless you're buying live fish, most fish in Canada is frozen to specification so that it is "safe for consumption."

          2. re: BokChoi
            p
            Pigurd RE: BokChoi Jan 8, 2009 07:45 PM

            yea, this oyster was rotten, colour was off and stinky.. which was disapointing considering i bought a box of 30something pieces of really cheap malpalques from loblaws and didnt have any bad ones.. but the rest were very goood even without any acid (forgot to get...)...

            the most metallic oyster i have ever had is the galway bay flats, it was like eating steel, no wonder starfish is the only place in north america with it.. its for like enthusiast or something...

            1. re: Pigurd
              BokChoi RE: Pigurd Jan 9, 2009 10:16 AM

              Pigurd, that name sounds so familiar (galway bay flats) - I think I had the pleasure of sampling one of those several years ago at Rodneys. Let's just say I had a metallic aftertaste in my mouth for almost 24 hrs afterward. Wow. I don't think that type of oyster is for me. It was a recommendation from the oyster shucker as his favourite oyster type. Kudos for him for being able to enjoy that.

          3. re: Pigurd
            aser RE: Pigurd Jan 19, 2009 07:08 PM

            Yes this is normal, it's a luck of the draw with shellfish. Just like when you buy mussels/clams to cook at home and some of them won't open after cooking.

            At all reputable restaurants serving oysters, shuckers will give each one a sniff test after opening to ensure it's fresh. They will chuck out the odd one that is iffy.

            Oysters can last for several weeks if stored properly. By properly, I'm talking about a preforated hotel pan lined w/ ice and covered by damp cloth/paper towel. The oysters should have the flat side facing up and excess water drained frequently.

          4. t
            tjr RE: BokChoi Jan 8, 2009 09:47 PM

            If only it weren't so far! One thing I like about Diana's is that they know the proper way to store seafood (whole, filets, steaks, etc.) in their displays, which is not only a sign that they know what they're doing, but also that their product can likely be trusted. You don't really see the same thing at a supermarket!

            Nice photos too, that soba dish looks delicious.

            17 Replies
            1. re: tjr
              BokChoi RE: tjr Jan 9, 2009 10:27 AM

              Thanks tjr.

              The red snapper turned out really well actually. Steamed it under a saran wrap to lock in the moisture. The fish was incredibly fresh which really lent to the texture.

              Ahh the gems in Scarborough. Foodie (budget) paradise.

              1. re: BokChoi
                s
                spine64 RE: BokChoi Jan 9, 2009 10:56 AM

                Just returned from Diana's, thanks for the rec. Bought a dozen oysters, $20, had to do a little work, but well worth it. They do not shuck for you, as I would have ate them on the spot. Perused the fish on display, will return tomorrow for some fresh fish. Very friendly staff.

                1. re: spine64
                  BokChoi RE: spine64 Jan 9, 2009 07:20 PM

                  Great deal on the 'less than perfect' oysters, no? I keep thinking I'll try to muscle through them, but then the west coast oysters always call out to me.

                  I'll be heading over soon for some more fresh fish as well. Great folks working the counters over there. Always makes for a pleasant experience.

                  Cheers and glad you enjoyed Diana's

                2. re: BokChoi
                  jayt90 RE: BokChoi Jan 9, 2009 11:31 AM

                  Fortunately Diana's is close to me too, as well as Arz, Nasr, the nut place, T&T, Soon Lee, P.A.T.and the ubiquitous Costco. With a little more travel I can get to the halal place in Thorncliffe Park, and fresh Japanese style seafood at Taro, Leslie and Finch. Perhaps I could equal all of this at SLM, but with parking and congestion problems.

                  1. re: jayt90
                    Full tummy RE: jayt90 Jan 9, 2009 06:38 PM

                    A lot of those are regular destinations for me, too. No thanks on trading it all for SLM, tho. Maybe if SLM Saturdays really were filled with farmers... THAT I might consider.

                    1. re: Full tummy
                      b
                      bigos70 RE: Full tummy Jan 9, 2009 07:05 PM

                      Just went to Diana's for the first time last week. I bought 3 lbs of black cod fillets @ $14.99/lb. Later that day I was at the Harvest Wagon, so out of curiosity I popped into Pisces, where it sold for $29.99/lb! I think Mike's in SLM sells it for $21.99/lb. So while I don't always shop solely on price, it's definitely worth the drive from downtown for me, especially if I'm buying larger quantities. And to top it off, the staff were super friendly!

                      1. re: bigos70
                        Full tummy RE: bigos70 Jan 9, 2009 07:19 PM

                        Wow! Thanks for the price comparison. Wonder if anyone else has had a similar experience...

                        1. re: bigos70
                          BokChoi RE: bigos70 Jan 9, 2009 07:24 PM

                          The black cod is of exceptional quality there, is it not? I bought a filet a month or so ago and turned it into this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-... . SO swore that they would never order another miso glazed black cod at a restaurant ever again. Guess that's a good thing. Need to perfect the skin though.

                          1. re: BokChoi
                            y
                            ywgyyz RE: BokChoi Feb 27, 2009 04:44 PM

                            The Black Cod photo looks amazing. I have been a huge fan of Seafood Depot but I think I will go the extra few kms to Dianas on my next outing.

                            1. re: ywgyyz
                              BokChoi RE: ywgyyz Mar 4, 2009 08:42 AM

                              Thanks for the compliment, ywgyyz. It tasted great as well. Fantastic product they carry at Diana's. They don't have black cod everyday though, so do call ahead.

                      2. re: jayt90
                        BokChoi RE: jayt90 Jan 9, 2009 07:22 PM

                        Nasr is great for my spice needs. Stopped by a while back to stock, so I'm good for a while. Thanks for the reminder. Haven't tried out Soon Lee yet - what do you recommend to get there? Anything stand out?

                        1. re: BokChoi
                          jayt90 RE: BokChoi Jan 9, 2009 08:36 PM

                          The sable cod plate is really enticing. Must try that.
                          Soon Lee is great for so many things, plus the pan-ethnic crowd for entertainment! I look for beef ribs, pork bellies, marrow bones for stock, and fresh ducks with head and feet. When I needed pho spice sacs (like tea bags) they had it, 5/$1.

                          1. re: jayt90
                            BokChoi RE: jayt90 Jan 10, 2009 07:42 AM

                            Sounds great. I found two locations on google. Are they similar, do you know? I guess the one you frequent is on Kennedy and Eglinton. How does it compare to the regular T&T experience? The ducks I usually get from T&T do not come with head and feet. How do you prepare these extra appendages? Together with the body, or separate the feet?
                            Cheers!

                        2. re: jayt90
                          Googs RE: jayt90 Jan 11, 2009 09:06 AM

                          Okay so I'm not the only one who's forgotten. Can anyone name the nut place with the big pink sign in the same plaza as Shawarma Empire? Soooo, so good.

                          1. re: Googs
                            JamieK RE: Googs Jan 11, 2009 10:48 AM

                            Basse?

                            1. re: JamieK
                              Googs RE: JamieK Jan 11, 2009 11:28 AM

                              Figuring you let your fingers do the walking I tried the same. It's Samara Roasted Nuts. For sure that's the place because when I googled it, I came up with this visual aid:
                              http://www.streeteatstv.com/video/113...

                              Thanks so much JamieK. You led me to my answer. Now if only I can remember the name 5 minutes from now...

                              1. re: Googs
                                e
                                embee RE: Googs Jan 11, 2009 11:39 AM

                                I was last at Samara a few weeks ago, following a meal at Nasib's. Very disappointing. Cashews, pistachios and a few other things I've since forgotten were boring. Some were stale.

                                Is there any place that still roasts on site?

                    2. b
                      budeeez RE: BokChoi Jan 9, 2009 07:47 PM

                      Thanks for the pics. Since the previous post about it, I have been meaning to go but hard for me with 2 young children and freezing winters. I am closer to SLM but from your pictures and some of the prices I see on it, the prices are much more affordable at Diana's. Would love to a nice fresh fish and steam with ginger/onions with oil/soy sauce. The sea urchin looks great too. I agree $20 is great.

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: budeeez
                        BokChoi RE: budeeez Jan 9, 2009 07:55 PM

                        You're very welcome and glad the photos could help you visualize the store.

                        Glad that Diana's does not have a problem with me taking photos, unlike many other establishments (Healthy Butcher, Cumbrae's) that do not allow photos. I would think the free promo would be a plus for them, but I guess they have their reasons. If anyone understands this, can you please explain it to me? And I don't really buy the explanation of 'espionage'. I doubt a spy would bring a giant SLR into a store to 'steal' ideas. A camera phone would be much more subtle. Too bad, I would have probably liked to make a post about Cumbrae's - my favourite steak purveyor.

                        Cheers!

                        1. re: BokChoi
                          s
                          spine64 RE: BokChoi Jan 10, 2009 05:56 AM

                          BokChoi, great reviews and photo's. Your recipe for the black cod would be appreciated? Toss up between Diana's or Cumbrae's fro tonights dinner. Soon Lee? Location?
                          Cheers

                          1. re: spine64
                            jayt90 RE: spine64 Jan 10, 2009 06:25 AM

                            Soon Lee is on Markham at Lawrence

                            -----
                            Soon Lee
                            629 Markham Rd, Toronto, ON M1J, CA

                            1. re: spine64
                              BokChoi RE: spine64 Jan 10, 2009 07:55 AM

                              Thanks for the compliment spine64.

                              Soon Lee - I have not visited (as far as I know - though I do tend to walk into grocery stores without checking the store front name). Perhaps jayt90 can answer questions on that one. Here is a map: http://www.weblocal.ca/soon-lee-supermarket-toronto-on.html

                              I did a combo recipe and combined these two:
                              http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Miso-Glazed-Sea-Bass-102851
                              http://www.rasamalaysia.com/2007/04/r...
                              but I leaned toward the epicurious one. I enjoyed leaving the sake flavour in the sauce and it really came out in the final product.

                              Note: I cut down the brown sugar to about 2tbsp (and it was perfect. Any more and it would have been too sweet for me.) As well, you should note that you should start marinating about 6 hrs ahead of time. I only had time for an hour one time and it tasted great still.

                              You can buy the ingredients at JTown, and the sake at LCBO. I found mirin at T&T, but it was not of good quality (but was cheap).

                              Cumbrae's is great for a nice steak. Everything is well marbled and the aging gives it flavour unlike any other steak I have found easily. The prices are a bit more, but worth it IMO. I did a side by side comparison between Cumrae's and a normal Black Angus from the grocery store (just to see if I could tell the difference and if it was worth the price premium) and it blew the BA out of the water. The grains of the meat were completely different and the taste was beyond compare.

                              Make sure you keep the sauce from the miso marinade. There is a lot and I put it in the fridge to reuse it the next day with some fresh salmon. Tasted great as well (the sauce is a bit expensive for single use).
                              cheers!

                              1. re: BokChoi
                                jayt90 RE: BokChoi Jan 10, 2009 08:28 AM

                                Apparently there are two Soon Lee's, possibly more. I didn't know about the one at Kennedy and Eglinton.
                                Here is short review in Toronto Life on the Markham location http://www.torontolife.com/guide/food...

                                1. re: jayt90
                                  BokChoi RE: jayt90 Jan 10, 2009 05:23 PM

                                  That's why it sounds so familiar. I was intrigued because I wanted to go there for the balut. I have heard that it does not taste that great though - have you tried it?

                                  1. re: BokChoi
                                    jayt90 RE: BokChoi Jan 10, 2009 05:40 PM

                                    yes. To my western palate, raised on farm fresh eggs, it was disgusting, but if Bourdain would do it, so would I! But there was lots more things there, including good brown eggs for $2.50/doz.

                                    1. re: jayt90
                                      BokChoi RE: jayt90 Jan 10, 2009 05:45 PM

                                      Thanks jayt90. I will probably not enjoy it either then.

                                      1. re: BokChoi
                                        t
                                        tjr RE: BokChoi Jan 10, 2009 09:22 PM

                                        It wasn't awful, but it certainly wasn't something I'd bother eating again. It's more of a conversation starter, I suppose. Most of my Filipino and Vietnamese friends won't touch it either.

                                2. re: BokChoi
                                  t
                                  tjr RE: BokChoi Jan 10, 2009 09:40 AM

                                  I am fond of Nobu's Saikyo Miso black cod, which is also a really simple recipe. T&T carries several varieties of mirin. It's difficult to find really good mirin, or true hon-mirin, but as long as you look for the ones with the least ingredients, it will usually be okay (rice, water, koji, salt). Avoid ones using corn syrups and strange chemicals.

                                  1. re: tjr
                                    BokChoi RE: tjr Jan 10, 2009 05:24 PM

                                    Fantastic and simple - I would agree. I like to not boil the alcohol flavouring away though, I find it adds a bit of je ne sais quoi - but I like it. An interesting mouth feel from the evaporating alcohol on top of the sweet marinade.

                                  2. re: BokChoi
                                    s
                                    spine64 RE: BokChoi Jan 10, 2009 10:35 AM

                                    Thank you, I would like to marinate for as long as I can, so I am opting for Cumbrae's. Girlfriend enjoys the filet, I usually opt for the NY, or Rib Eye. The Rib can sometimes border on being too fatty. Last time we had a bone in veal chop.
                                    Tomorrow dim sum. have read your review on the dim sum at the Doubletree near the airport. It is definitely on my radar. Looking for something in the vicinity of Leslie/Finch/Don Mills area. We are at York Mills and Leslie.
                                    Thanks again,
                                    Scott

                                    1. re: spine64
                                      BokChoi RE: spine64 Jan 10, 2009 05:32 PM

                                      Grand is fantastic - I just returned from another fantastic dim sum meal this afternoon. It really is my favourite dim sum place in the city because I feel like I get a lot of bang for my buck. The quality is superb, and it is affordable. Too bad it is so far.

                                      Some closer ones to you (and I) that I sometimes frequent would be Yang's Chinese Cuisine on Bayview just north of Hwy 16 and Empire Court at Hwy 7 and Warden :

                                      Here are some flickr sets to get your taste buds going. I have been to Empire court off and on for about a year and their quality is consistent. Yang's I have been only 3 times, but each time it seems to be quite good, though I prefer Grand by quite a bit (perhaps because I know what to order and the tastes are more inline with my preferences).

                                      Here are some flickr sites to get you salivating:

                                      Empire Court: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/sets/72157608165273165/
                                      Yang's: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/sets/72157610742743380/

                                      To be honest, I don't really frequent too many other dim sum restaurants because I found many of them do not live up to my expectations. These ones are quite good - tried, tested and true. Another favourite of mine is Lotus Pond - but it is a vegetarian restaurant (and thus not for everyone). Great value though.

                                      Lotus Pond: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                      Cheers!

                            2. t
                              Tatai RE: BokChoi Jan 10, 2009 09:57 AM

                              I was impressed upon my first visit to Diana's a few days ago. It's impeccably clean and the fish is gorgeous (I needed some ahi for a Poke recipe). What really impressed me that, while I was there, I figured I'd buy some live lobster, but was told that the two remaining lobsters in the tank were not for sale as they needed to stay there to keep the water in perfect condition (they were expecting a shipment the next day). This alone, to me, is a sign of fishmongers who cares a great deal about the quality of the fish/seafood they sell, whether dead or alive.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Tatai
                                BokChoi RE: Tatai Jan 10, 2009 05:35 PM

                                I called them today and asked if they had black cod available and the sales lady was nice enough to inform me that what was left was not of top quality and that I should wait until a fresh shipment arrives on Monday. Now THAT is customer service. Bravo - more place should operate like Diana's. I will be going on Monday probably to pick up a few fresh filets.

                                1. re: BokChoi
                                  s
                                  spine64 RE: BokChoi Jan 11, 2009 04:56 AM

                                  Thanks, my mouth is watering. Empire Court looks quite comfortable. My mouth is watering. Picked up another dozen oysters,west coast kumamotos (sic) , and two filets from Cumbrae's. Excellent evening. Now it is off for some dim sum,
                                  Cjeers

                                  1. re: spine64
                                    BokChoi RE: spine64 Jan 11, 2009 09:39 AM

                                    Do let me know how the dim sum experience went and what you decided on. Cheers

                              2. m
                                msprnt RE: BokChoi Jan 12, 2009 09:17 AM

                                i started going to diana's near thanksgiving and haven't been back to SLM for seafood since! ... (unless i plan on being downtown saturday night and try to scoop up "less than ideal" $10 trays at 4pm)

                                the reason for that is probably because it's closer to me (i'm from markham) .. and there's an excellent selection of oysters ... a tip with oysters: if you've never had a specific type, they'll shuck one for you to try (under the assumption that you'll buy at least a dozen of that or another type) ... but for courtesy sake, don't ask for it if there are other customers around

                                a question about their boxed malpaques, caraquettes, and beausoleils ... has anyone tried them?...i'm assuming they're quite small .... but at $10 for a box of 33 malpaques, how can anyone go wrong??

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: msprnt
                                  BokChoi RE: msprnt Jan 13, 2009 08:37 AM

                                  I have asked about those oysters and they said that they're are 'seconds' - in other words the they are not as deep (thus the oysters are less fleshy) and they are jagged-edged making them even more difficult to shuck. But if you are a master at it, then I am sure it is worth the trouble. I could not imagine shucking 33 or more in an evening. It would be a workout for me and afterward I would need more than a few measly oysters to satiate me. The quality is supposed to be good besides those few aforementioned points.

                                  1. re: BokChoi
                                    m
                                    msprnt RE: BokChoi Jan 13, 2009 08:55 AM

                                    hmmm, maybe i'll give it a shot next time there's a big group! and get 3 shuckers going at once....

                                    thanks bokchoi!

                                    1. re: msprnt
                                      BokChoi RE: msprnt Jan 13, 2009 09:04 AM

                                      no problem as always, msprnt. Good luck and let me know how the oyster party goes.

                                      1. re: BokChoi
                                        a
                                        Asuran RE: BokChoi Jan 13, 2009 10:39 AM

                                        not too sure about the quality differences between the boxed oysters and the ones that arent but i have only bought the boxed ones and shucking them is not a problem... its keeping others from slurping away as i'm shucking them... this is making me want to go for an oyster run..

                                        1. re: Asuran
                                          BokChoi RE: Asuran Jan 15, 2009 11:06 AM

                                          Good to know. I should get a box on my next visit. Cheers!

                                          1. re: BokChoi
                                            m
                                            msprnt RE: BokChoi Jan 19, 2009 08:36 AM

                                            hey guys,

                                            so i went this weekend to grab a box of malpaques ... on sat. jan. 17, the boxes in the fridge were marked as packed on thurs. jan. 15....pretty good i think!

                                            also, of the 33 i opened, about 5-7 were dead and were all brown and nasty inside ... still, it's a good deal i think...and the rest were fine!

                                            another thing to note....the week before, i saw that the boxes of 33s were only 9.99....and this weekend, they were 11.99 ...so i guess it's priced at current market rates?

                                            just an fyi!

                                            1. re: msprnt
                                              BokChoi RE: msprnt Jan 20, 2009 01:01 PM

                                              Thanks for the update msprnt. Not bad for such a great price.

                                2. pinstripeprincess RE: BokChoi Feb 9, 2009 07:27 AM

                                  haven't had the patience to read through all these posts... but i was incredibly disappointed with what i got from diana's.

                                  i don't know what anyone is talking about pleasant aromas or what not because the place smells fishy. there is no two ways about it and most places dedicated to seafood are the same way but i can definitely say it smelled much worse than a place like bill's lobster.

                                  the products were perfectly fine looking and the selection a rather decent variety for toronto though it didn't seem like there was anything really unique in the fish area. i was attracted to the oysters and picked a box of 33 malpeques, half a doz belons, half a doz beach angels, 3 inshell large scallop from BC and a tray of shelled uni. the overall impression i got was, never again.

                                  there was no particular awful odour around anything (well except the shelled oysters, fishy....) but after tasting everything the conclusion was either bland, sour or chalky. we barely made it through my typically loved belons as i spit out half of one while chewing, it was so disgusting tasting... and after about 3 malpeques i'm absolutely stumped as to what i'm going to do with the rest of the box of these mediocre pieces of meat. this was by far my WORST oyster experience i have ever had... next time i'll stick to either going into starfish or shucking my own from oysterboy. the uni wasn't as horrendous... just.. completely lacking in any flavour. i noticed that they made a very direct effort to place the more pale, plump and larger pieces of uni over dark flaccid ones. interestingly, the dark flaccid ones contained the most flavour (none were very bitter thankfully) but still got a declaration of "meh".

                                  it is not worth the drive from downtown.

                                  17 Replies
                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                    BokChoi RE: pinstripeprincess Feb 10, 2009 05:42 AM

                                    Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy your oysters from Diana's pinstripprincess. Just as a note, they supply the oysters to starfish, rodney's and if I'm not mistaken, oysterboy as well (I am sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong). I've never tried the boxed ones, I only get the piece by piece ones from the counter, but it's unfortunate that you had a bad experience. I found they tasted exactly the same as the starfish oysters I had had just the day before my visit to Diana's. Also, I once asked about those ridiculously priced boxed oysters, and the owner did mention they were 'seconds' - meaning that they were not top quality (the cup was not as deep, hence flesh not as plump), but the quality was still supposed to be top rate. Either way, I believe they were priced at about 40cents an oyster, which is a great deal if they taste fine. Still have to try them though.

                                    1. re: BokChoi
                                      pinstripeprincess RE: BokChoi Feb 10, 2009 06:42 AM

                                      we got a mix, boxed and pieces and found that they all had some sort of unpleasantness to them. seconds are fine and all, i don't expect them to be stunning but they were virtually inedible because of their atrociously bad flavour and didn't represent what i know malpeques or belons to be.

                                      my understanding is that oysterboy is their own supplier with a focus on east coast/canadian shellfish and supplies to many other restos in toronto and across the country.

                                      1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                        aser RE: pinstripeprincess Feb 10, 2009 07:14 PM

                                        Yes oysterboy is its own distro, adam has personal relationships w/ a lot of the farmers on the east coast (ie. visiting in person). Restaurants like Canoe source their oysters from him.

                                        Starfish also used to get their oysters from Fisherman's Brother in Thornhill. I'm not sure of their retail side as their location closed down. They probably still do wholesale to restaurants.

                                        1. re: aser
                                          m
                                          msprnt RE: aser Feb 11, 2009 08:53 AM

                                          what happend to fisherman's brother? i went by aroud christmas time and the place looked abandoned. i wanted to give it a shot since i live nearby. did they move or shutdown permanently?

                                          1. re: msprnt
                                            aser RE: msprnt Feb 11, 2009 09:46 AM

                                            They told me they were moving to a location on Yonge, in the plaza w/ Licks, where the lcbo used to be. That still hasn't happened. I tried calling but nobody picks up the phone. :(

                                            They were definitely my reliable source for oysters.

                                            http://fishmancomp.com/

                                            1. re: aser
                                              m
                                              msprnt RE: aser Feb 12, 2009 08:42 AM

                                              how long ago did they tell you that? were they going to move to the thornhill lick's plaza? ....that's even closer to me!

                                              i tried calling in december too....to no avail; their website seems terribly outdated as well...

                                              1. re: msprnt
                                                aser RE: msprnt Feb 12, 2009 10:52 AM

                                                Yup that one...

                                                They told me when I went in on their last week of operation at the old location. The lobster tank was taken down already, packing was under way. The workers told me they'll be moving to the new location soon.

                                                It's been half a year since, so needless to say, I've already given up hope. I tried calling them again after yesterday's post and their #'s are out of service. :(

                                                I'll really miss this place, the only great seafood vendor I know of in thornhill/markham/richmond hill.

                                                1. re: aser
                                                  m
                                                  msprnt RE: aser Feb 13, 2009 08:58 AM

                                                  aww, thanks for trying! ...

                                                  have u ever been to the place on main st. (north of hwy 7) in markham?....i've never been, but i wanted to stop in one day ...they sell fish, meat, and produce i believe....small joint

                                    2. re: pinstripeprincess
                                      d
                                      Derksen RE: pinstripeprincess Feb 10, 2009 07:16 AM

                                      I had a little bash on the weekend for some friends. 7 varieties of oysters, 12 dozen total. We shucked all but one dozen (too full!!!), and only came across one oyster that a guest thought was off. I smelled it, and it was a tad off, but not what I would consider a 'bad' oyster. I've had a bad oyster.... I definitely know that smell... ugh.

                                      Overall, the oysters were very tasty and enjoyed by all (even a few non-eaters were converted at the party). I will definitely be going back to Diana’s.

                                      The previous weekend, I tried a fresh whole snapper, and a few types of oysters. The fish was very fresh and tasty. I did notice some of the snappers eyes appeared a tad foggy, but I picked one with a nice fresh look. They all looked good, but the one I picked looked the best of the bunch.

                                      I did notice the smell in the store (who couldn't…like most fish stores), but the fresh product I found very fresh. I also tried a fresh opened scallop and clam while I was there. Both fresh and very tasty (especially the scallop). For me, I’m ok with a little fishy odour in the store, as long as the product is top notch.

                                      It's too bad you didn't have a pleasant experience. I have bought quite a lot from Oyster Boy, and find these are of equal quality. I did not try the box of malpeques, so maybe that is where our reviews differ. Did you find they lacked freshness? Some of Oyster Boy's product comes from the same regions, so I don't think it would any fault of Diana's if you got a bad one.... unless of course if they weren't fresh! I have had bad oysters from Oyster Boy. I don't blame them, as their product is also very fresh. It's the nature of the beast.

                                      Happy shucking.

                                      1. re: Derksen
                                        pinstripeprincess RE: Derksen Feb 10, 2009 08:43 AM

                                        this is exactly what baffles me... malpeques are malpeques... ubiquitous and familiar. nothing smelled off when we opened them but they just didn't taste good or right. even my malpeque loving co-shucker was turned off only 2 oysters in. they were all the same and all just tasted.. wrong. chalky is the best way i can put it. they were reasonably plump and reasonably filled with liquor.

                                        i doubt oysterboy is very different from diana's and while i've had a miserable shucker i haven't had bad oysters or even just odd tasting ones from oysterboy (i only take oysters for shucking at home now). maybe it was just a perfect anomaly but even the fishy fresh scallop wasn't worth it... not naturally sweet nor creamy.. barely flavourful.

                                        1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                          d
                                          Derksen RE: pinstripeprincess Feb 10, 2009 12:25 PM

                                          I just got an email from Chris at Diana's. They do supply Oyster Boy, as well as Pure Spirits and Big Daddy's (I only asked about downtown resto's). He said they do not supply Rodney's (I find Rodney's much more expensive as well!).

                                          Re: the malpeques.... maybe an off batch/box? Either waited around a little too long on the shipping or receiving end perhaps? I definitely think it would be worth while mentioning to Chris, or someone else in mgmt there. He seems like a very helpful person.

                                          The scallop.... that was the first raw scallop I ever had. It was truly delicious. Fresh, sweet. Yummy.

                                          1. re: Derksen
                                            pinstripeprincess RE: Derksen Feb 10, 2009 01:05 PM

                                            i will contact diana's to give them a fair shake on things.

                                            as for oysterboy, i'm pretty sure my info is correct. diana's might supply them for fish but i'm pretty darn sure they bring in their own oysters, if not most of their own oysters, unless they've stopped that side of the business. adam spends his summers on the east coast and brings some of his staff with him so that they can get to know the farmers out there. i would earnestly be surprised if they're coming from diana's. i'll have to ask him the next time i see him as diana's claim doesn't seem quite right.

                                            1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                              d
                                              Derksen RE: pinstripeprincess Feb 10, 2009 04:26 PM

                                              A quote from Chris' email (hope you don't mind Chris); "I do sell some oysters to oyster boy but not rodneys. You could go to pure spirits in the distillery district or big daddys crab shack on king. They also carry my oysters".

                                              So yes, "some" may be a key word here.

                                            2. re: Derksen
                                              BokChoi RE: Derksen Feb 12, 2009 06:06 AM

                                              OK I might have been mistaken about Rodneys. I just assumed since I almost always see a Rodney's logo'd car there when I go visit. They buy mainly some frozen seafood items when I did spy on their purchases one time, so maybe not the oysters. Thanks for the info

                                              1. re: BokChoi
                                                a
                                                acd123 RE: BokChoi Feb 12, 2009 11:56 AM

                                                The smell in Diana's if from the salt cod. It's the same at any fishmonger that sells salt cod. Take that away and you wouldn't smell a thing. If Bill's had salt cod, it would smell the same way.

                                                1. re: acd123
                                                  jayt90 RE: acd123 Feb 12, 2009 05:59 PM

                                                  Perceptive observation. There was a thread in Chow Toronto about the fishmonger at Ossington and Dundas (Portuguese), and the complaints were about the smell, which was basically salt cod. But only the persnickety found it objectionable. Salt cod has been a foundation food for many nations, from Norway to Brazil, and across the Mediterranean.

                                                  1. re: acd123
                                                    BokChoi RE: acd123 Feb 15, 2009 05:41 AM

                                                    Ah the salt cod smell. I really enjoy that smell and it is right near the door. A welcome scent when I enter the store.

                                        2. r
                                          Raquel RE: BokChoi Feb 13, 2009 12:37 PM

                                          Went to Diana's today and bought 2lbs of fresh halibut. It cost $41. Got 4 deck size pieces out of it. It was the FRESHEST and most excellent piece of fish I remember eating in recent history. Thoroughly enjoyed it. If anyone is a halibut fan out there, go and get some today; I enjoyed it that much.

                                          And yes, I've eaten dinner at 4:30. Just one of those days....

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: Raquel
                                            JamieK RE: Raquel Feb 13, 2009 01:40 PM

                                            Raquel - you should try the black cod next time you go to Diana's, also fresh and excellent and a fantastic price.

                                            1. re: Raquel
                                              jayt90 RE: Raquel Feb 13, 2009 01:56 PM

                                              I'll check out Diana's fresh halibut on Saturday. For the sake of convenience I am going to pick up a pound of halibut fillets, IQF at sea, from the respected Orca firm, at Costco for the same price. $21/lb. I like to keep these, or haddock, for fish and chips, or shrink wrapped lunches.

                                              1. re: jayt90
                                                BokChoi RE: jayt90 Feb 15, 2009 05:44 AM

                                                jayt90, did you do a taste comparison? I would be interested to see how each of them fared.

                                                1. re: BokChoi
                                                  jayt90 RE: BokChoi Feb 15, 2009 02:25 PM

                                                  I will do! I didn't get to Diana's yet, but will early this week, even Monday if they are open. I'll definitely check out the smell factor, to see what pinstripeprincess has encountered. There are certain fish markets that absolutely do not smell; Sobey's, Loblaws, and Costco, because they pressure clean at the end of the day. They don't have the extensive selection or service as Diana's, but I haver never been put off by the smell there.

                                                  1. re: jayt90
                                                    BokChoi RE: jayt90 Feb 15, 2009 05:56 PM

                                                    Thanks jayt90. I look forward to reading your review. They are open 7 days as week as far as I know. I remember confirming that on an earlier occasion. Have fun cooking! I know I rely on Costco for nice, cheap salmon and some tilapia fillets when I don't feel like steaming the whole fish from a Chinese grocery store.

                                                    Cheers!

                                                    1. re: jayt90
                                                      pinstripeprincess RE: jayt90 Feb 17, 2009 07:07 AM

                                                      the smell could have just been salt cod, but i didn't really notice or see any (though at no point was i looking for it... mostly was there for shellfish) so i'm still a bit dubious. the fish itself looked fresh.

                                                      i'm just sorely disappointed in the quality of the mollusks. i had someone else try a malpeque and they agree it was surprisingly bitter. i know these were seconds but about 1/4 of the shells split along the length while attempting to shuck, 1 was full of mud and 2 were foul. they were less consistent in shape but that only deters a less confident shucker.... otherwise even a good panko breading and deep fry was boring. if this is consistent with their usual offerings i do not need diana's. btw, i also did do a very quick salt wash/cure on the fresh shucked scallop and still.. fishy with no other redeeming delicious creamy scallop flavour.

                                                      1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                        jayt90 RE: pinstripeprincess Feb 17, 2009 05:29 PM

                                                        Seconds!

                                                        Maybe they should keep these oysters for chowder.

                                                        They have several types of salt cod, some unavailable elsewhere (Gaspe select). I'm sorry you were disappointed in the 'seconds' you chose, but most customers including me have been satisfied by the first rate mollusks, the shellfish, the IQF seafood in the freezer, the fresh fish, canned goods, and the service, at prices lower than most of the competition..

                                                      2. re: jayt90
                                                        c
                                                        CoffeeAddict416 RE: jayt90 Feb 18, 2009 06:11 AM

                                                        I find the loblaws fish section consistently smells fishy. Costco and sobeys don't ever smell fishy in my experience

                                                  2. re: Raquel
                                                    BokChoi RE: Raquel Feb 15, 2009 05:42 AM

                                                    Raquel, the halibut sounds fantastic. A marvelous piece of fish always makes me so incredibly happy. Great prices, great quality. I love Diana's seafood.

                                                  3. r
                                                    ragged25 RE: BokChoi Feb 17, 2009 05:04 PM

                                                    Picked up a box of 33 malpeques on V-Day and my SO and I quite enjoyed them. We are oyster rookies and have had a few oysters in the half shells in the past, and it was my first time shucking them. They were $10.99 and I counted about 35 of them and they all tasted fresh and tasty. We had about half of them on V-day and I had the rest the next day and they still tasted fine. Most importantly, no upset stomach afterwards.

                                                    I would definitely go back to try some of the other varieties.

                                                    What else should I try next for a rookie like myself? I don't want to waste some high end oysters because I don't know how to appreciate it.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: ragged25
                                                      BokChoi RE: ragged25 Feb 20, 2009 06:16 AM

                                                      Talk to the people at the counter. They have fantastic suggestions based on your tastes. I personally prefer West coasters - the big, milky ones. I enjoy the thick taste that envelopes your tongue. Some really detest this taste. Fanny Bays are a nice, safe choice. I like the big ones. Less work with more meat payoff. The Kumomotos used to be my faves, but they do get a bit pricey. They do half dozen increments, so if you have a larger group, you can try a larger selection.

                                                    2. sugarcube RE: BokChoi Feb 17, 2009 09:08 PM

                                                      There was a mention in this thread that all fish here is sashimi grade, is this true?
                                                      Do they also have eel?

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: sugarcube
                                                        JamieK RE: sugarcube Feb 18, 2009 05:55 AM

                                                        The little blurb on their website says they have live eel during the Christmas season -
                                                        http://www.dianasseafood.com/about.html

                                                        1. re: JamieK
                                                          t
                                                          tjr RE: JamieK Feb 20, 2009 06:52 AM

                                                          Chinese supermarkets sometimes have live eel as well; I'm not sure if it's a seasonal or just a random thing though, perhaps someone else can clarify on availability at places like T&T.

                                                        2. re: sugarcube
                                                          BokChoi RE: sugarcube Feb 20, 2009 06:18 AM

                                                          Ask the counter. They said that most of them are sushi grade usually, but it depends on the fish and the day. I remember asking about the salmon and they said that the day i wanted it, it was indeed sushi grade because they had just cleaned them that morning, but they don't label it as such because some days, it's just not just cleaned and might be a day old. They know their product, so best to ask the people at the counter. They're a treasure trove of knowledge.

                                                        3. y
                                                          ywgyyz RE: BokChoi Feb 28, 2009 03:55 PM

                                                          Since we are on the Seafood topic... I was at Seafood Depot last week, and bought a bag of halibut fillets - frozen. $17.95 4 fairly thin fillets, one pound total.

                                                          Got home and more closely read the package - and it is labeled "Product of China" . First of all, when I buy Halibut, I assume North Pacific - or on the low end, North Atlantic Greenland. But Product of China? Any ideas? Do they farm Halibut in China now? I would like to avoid that kind of product.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: ywgyyz
                                                            t
                                                            tjr RE: ywgyyz Feb 28, 2009 04:20 PM

                                                            Unless I'm mistaken, the fish was caught where it was caught, then sent to China for processing (I believe China is the world's leading processor of fish, unless, again, I'm mistaken). This is where your "Product of China" comes from, even if the fish was not caught there.

                                                            1. re: ywgyyz
                                                              jayt90 RE: ywgyyz Feb 28, 2009 04:33 PM

                                                              The price you paid is not bad for halibut,but the origin of the fish cannot be easily traced, and it is likely re-frozen.

                                                              Halibut is not farmed, but the Pacific variety is sustainable, while Atlantic halibut is essentially gone.

                                                              The trawlers (any nationality) in the Pacific and Atlantic will catch and process carcasses at sea, then sell the commodity to large marketers, such as Highliner, who have the fish sent to a hand processing plant in China. The carcasses are semi thawed and cut into fillets on huge production lines, then re-frozen, packaged, and shipped to North America or Europe. This is a far cry from the 6 or 7 Highliner ships operating from Halifax. It is a big international business, and we are the pawns.

                                                              Today I bought Orca brand IQF halibut at Costco for $23 /lb, and it is guaranteed to come from Alaska, by a very reputable processor. Expensive but worth it.

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