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Where to Buy Smoked Fish in Toronto

Does anyone know where to buy great smoked fish in Toronto? I'm talking about grocery stores / delies / meat stores rather than at restaurants.

Thanks,
Mike - Toronto

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  1. Millbree-Viking on Laird south of Eglinton has a lovely assortment of home-smoked fish, along with great Scandinavian breads and salads. (Their cardamom bread is delicious.)

    Yummy Market on Dufferin south of Steeles is an Eastern European grocery store that sells a large assortment of smoked fish, as well.

    You can also buy smoked -- or freshly caught -- Georgian Bay lake trout and whitefish from Andrew Akiwenzie at various farmers' markets in the city, including Dufferin Grove year-round and Riverdale Farm beginning in May.

    23 Replies
    1. re: Tatai

      I cannot recommend Milbree Viking highly enough. The hot- and cold-smoked salmon are good, but the whitefish, rainbow trout, and eel are outstanding.

      1. re: Wahooty

        +

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        Milbree
        133 Laird Dr, Toronto, ON M4G3V5, CA

        1. re: Wahooty

          I just called Milbree, and it sound like they are closed due to fire damages??? No mention on if or when they'll reopen.

          1. re: flyingchameleon

            Try Central Epicure: http://www.centralepicure.com/who%20w...

            It's a block or so south of Steeles, west of Weston Rd. The storefront is really just their offices, and there's not a ton in the cooler but they'll get you whatever you want from the back. I've had their whole whitefish and their smoked salmon. Good but I agree Milbree Viking was better. But it's still good.

            1. re: Nyleve

              Central Epicure is a very interesting operation. As far as I could glean from them, the recipes are original, the processes are natural, and most processing is actually done by hand.

              Their cold smoked fish is very good (though I personally loathe the "vodka" flavoured fresh smoked salmon) and they have some interesting items (e.g., schmaltz herring) that are difficult to find in stores and extremely tasty.

              What I don't like very much is their hot smoked fish, which is widely available. The flavour profiles are excellent, but everything is cooked to death. I was told that they now cook to a much higher temperature than in the past to meet a specific certification requirement (one far beyond the safety requirements documented by Harold McGee). Unfortunately, it's also the difference between delicious and dry as dust.

              The Russian stores in North York (Gastronom; Jacob's; several others) have terrific smoked fish selections, though I doubt much of it is made in house.

              For cold smoked salmon, the frozen PC version at Loblaw's is extremely good.

              1. re: embee

                Not sure if you've ever had the smoked salmon from Harbord Bakery. It is excellent. I have no idea where they get it from. I asked and the lady at the counter told me they get it from a delivery guy. I laughed and didn't push.

                It is cold smoked. I find it similar in texture to Milbree's salmon but a bit more smokey.

                1. re: acd123

                  Yes!!! I did a whole post on the Harbord Bakery lox to see if anyone on this board knew where they sourced it from but nobody responded. The texture and flavour are delicious. Embee???

                  1. re: peppermint pate

                    I haven't a clue. I'm seldom in the area, and I don't think I've had any lox from there in decades.

                    1. re: peppermint pate

                      I went to buy some from Harbord bakery today. They had 3 types, one norwegian prepackaged brand, the other two are from the Smokemaster, a German guy from Oakville makes these. It's Atlantic salmon (boo), ingredients list spices, vodka, etc....

                      This stuff is not cheap, $25.99 per lb unmarked, you have to bring it up to the cash to be weighted. It comes in a whole side frozen or smaller packs unfrozen. Two of the smaller packs came up to $25, 6 slices total. I checked the receipt when I got home, doubt anything got tarred to account for the weight of the vac pack and cardboard backing. At $25.99, that stuff probably added $2-3 extra to the total. Should've double checked before I got home, lesson learned.

                      Let's hope this stuff is worth the expensive price.

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                      Harbord
                      147 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1H1, CA

                      1. re: aser

                        It is worth the expensive price. I have some in my fridge right now. I get some almost every week. It's an inudlgence I don't think I'll be giving up any time soon. Now that Milbree is no longer on Larid, HB is my go-to for smoked salmon. Good stuff.

                        1. re: acd123

                          There is that new place that opened in the small house just north of the old Milbree location but I have not been there. The owner once posed as a customer and posted about how she liked the fish there - those posts didn't last long.

                          1. re: foodyDudey

                            Where is it exactly? Any further info in it?

                            1. re: acd123

                              It's about 50m north of the old Viking place.
                              Here is a thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/715223

                              and a Facebook page:

                              http://www.facebook.com/pages/Valenti...

                              << I'm not an insider, I just appear like one to the moderators. >>

                              1. re: foodyDudey

                                It looks like it's $32 per pound.

                          2. re: acd123

                            Had some of the Smokemaster w/ a St Viateur bagel, great stuff. Flavour is very mellow, probably better on its own as the bagel overwhelms it a little.

                            Still quite expensive, so it'll be an occasional treat. Would be nice to find a smoked salmon source made w/ wild bc salmon instead of Atlantic.

                            1. re: aser

                              Why do you prefer BC over Atlantic for smoke salmon ? I've been using Atlantic for my homemade hot smoked salmon just because it usually looks fresher (from Diana's). It has been turning out better than anything I've purchased and I am in no way an expert (yet, but it sure is fun learning).

                              BTW, Diana's had a variety of hot smoked salmon in the past. Likely they will again when they start smoking in the next couple of months.

                              1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                it's the farmed salmon debate, texture, taste, environmental consequences, etc......Pointless to get too deep into it because the mods will jump in and ruin the conversation.

                    2. re: embee

                      About the hot smoked fish from Central Epicure - I agree it's overcooked. Which is really sad. That's why I liked the Viking product better. But since it may be one of the only options left for this kind of thing, you get what you get. I will say, though, I've bought their cold smoked salmon and I liked it very much. It seems to have a bit of a crust on the edges - if that makes any sense. It has good flavour and nice texture.

                      1. re: Nyleve

                        Central Epicure has many types of cold smoked salmon, some of which I've never seen at a retail store.

                        One type is marked "fresh, never frozen". It comes in flavours, of which I like the "pastrami" and loathe the "vodka" but, I prefer my smoked salmon plain.

                        Overall, these are very good, though Milbree and (for the smoked Atlantic salmon) Loblaw's have been (to my palate) better. Kristapson's is made in my neighbourhood, but I don't find it worth its very high price.

                        I think the CE hot smoked products are a shame. What they told me is that their recipes have never changed but that they cook to (I think it was) 20 degrees Celsius higher than they did in the past. Thing is, what they did in the past was completely safe by any standard, and the results were delicious.

                        Milbree's hot smoked fish was just as good Central Epicure's in flavour, and was not overcooked. I do hope they reopen.

                  2. re: flyingchameleon

                    Thanks for sharing this; a while back I was hoping to stop in and saw them boarded up. Will call before I try to go back. Their fish was excellent, and they also made great donuts too!

                    1. re: Olivia

                      A little more info about the fire in this thread:

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/668753

                      For those still looking for smoked fish, one of my other favorite sources for whitefish is Andrew Akiwenzie at the Dufferin Grove farmer's market. He's not always there, though - depends on how the fishing is going that week.

                      1. re: Wahooty

                        And if you're in Muskoka e.g. the Independant in Huntsville, pick up a side of Milford Bay smoke trout. It is excellent. I think they also sell it several stores in TO (e.g. Chapmans).

              2. re: Tatai

                sorry, Tatai, I missed your mention of Andrew when I posted my reply just now. At any rate, his fish is so good that two mentions are justified!

              3. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5816...

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                Kristapsons
                1095 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                1. Viking's whitefish is excellent. I can't resist picking up a whole fish when I'm in the area. I also like their meat patties/bacon buns/meat pastries, the deep fried ones with the beef and rice filling especially. In Estonian they're generally called pirukad, I call them addictive. ;)

                  1. Pretty much any deli along Ronces or in Bloor West Village will have an assortment of smoked fish.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Davedigger

                      Right but freshness is often an issue. Try North Fish off Kipling just south of Dundas.

                    2. Andrew Akiewenzie sells the most delicious smoked whitefish I've ever tasted at the Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers' Market (thursdays 3-7 p.m., year round). www.dufferinpark.ca

                      1. Do you want hot-smoked or cold-smoked? Milbree-Viking for hot-smoked. Kristapson's for cold-smoked would be my recommendation. I don't recommend the cold-smoked salmon at Whole Foods, as I found it flavourless... Daiter's also has some nice fish options, including a house-made gravlax.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Full tummy

                          Andrew Akiwenzie's lake fish is hot-smoked, by the way.

                          1. re: Tatai

                            Tatai, do you happen to know if he is selling anywhere other than Dufferin Grove right now?

                            1. re: Wahooty

                              At this time of year, I believe Dufferin Grove is it. And you might want to get onto the Dufferin Grove Farmers' Market "Market News" emailing, which goes out every Wednesday night, so you can find out whether he will be there the following day. Sometimes (most often because the weather's been too bad to go out fishing) he doesn't make the trip down to Toronto.

                              The newsletter, written up by market manager Anne Freeman, also advises what the vendors will be offering up the next day. You can sign up by following the link on this page: http://dufferinpark.ca/market/wiki/wi...

                              1. re: Tatai

                                Actually, I just put myself on the list a few days ago. :) I didn't see him there, but I blew through pretty quickly so I could get back to work and didn't have fish on the brain at the time. I have to make a conscious effort to remember to go to Dufferin Grove because it's not in my normal wandering radius, but I've been wanting to try his fish for ages. Hopefully the weather will be good again next week and I'll track him down. Thanks!

                                1. re: Wahooty

                                  You must try his fresh fish, caught the previous day, when it's available. But he usually sells out of fresh fish within about 1/2 hour of opening, so you must get there early.

                                  Oh, and I just realized -- he does the Brick Works Farmers' Market in addition to Dufferin Grove and Riverdale. I think Brick Works reopens at the end of May.

                        2. I recommend European Food grocery store (I forgot the whole name) but its on 384 Steels West approximately. They have three categories of smoked salmon and all of them are great not to mention the lower priced one is great to boot.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: elvisahmed

                            On the W side of Bathust between Finch and Steeles is a strip plaza with an RBC, Price Choppers and Tov Li falafel restaurant. Beside Tov Li is a Russian owned general store with breads, meats, pastries and a wicked selction of smoked fish and caviar. Awesome lox, salmon caviar and sable. You will not be disapointed.

                            1. re: robb

                              Do any of these places have "bonito ahumado" ... smoked tuna? One of my favourite tapas bars in Madrid has it, and it's fantastic. I've been trying to find it here in Toronto, but I've come up empty.

                              1. re: MattB

                                Smoked tuna, swordfish, yellowtail, albacore, etc. are an old California delicacy but are now pricey and rare--probably the closest you'll find to Spanish-style fish. Like you, I've never found that type of smoked fish in the GTA. It doesn't travel well.

                            2. re: elvisahmed

                              Is this the store thats in the same plaza as Sababa? If so, then I agree. Good selection of other smoked fish like trout, herrings, mackerel, sturgeon as well.

                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                The store you're thinking of is Jacob's, and they have a great selection.

                            3. In addition to excellent smoked salmon (I often just get a small bag of 'tidbits' for $7.50), Kristapson's has a whole smoked trout for $5, I think. It's not smoked by them--in fact, I believe it's hot smoked, but it's quite delicious. I get mine at the Yonge/Brookdale location.

                              1. Kristopsons sells cold smoked salmon, trout, and whitefish. They have 3 locations one at Queen and Pape, one at Yonge and Lawrence, and one in Markham, Highway 7 and Woodbine I think.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: timmychanga

                                  Coincidentally, I picked up a 250 gm bag of salmon 'bits and pieces' today for $8.00 and asked about the trout that they sell. The trout is definitely a hot-smoked product, produced by Springhill Farms in the Creemore area.

                                  1. re: Yongeman

                                    You could also try Daiters on Bathurst between Lawrence and Wilson.

                                    1. re: sherry f

                                      How could I forget the most obvious place? For Sure....

                                2. I love smoked fish, but the stuff at Yummy Market and I assume the other Russian stores is so heavily salted that I find it disagreeable.
                                  The best smoked salmon that I have ever had was at Bistro Camino. It is cold smoked in house. Talk to Hiro about buying a piece, to go, for a special occasion. You may have to order in advance because of his "production" schedule.

                                  1. the largest selection I have come acroos is at a russian deli up in richmond hill. Just past weldrick and yonge.

                                    It's in a small plaza with the holloywood panini, blids to go and a small bakery.
                                    IIRC, they had at least 6-7 different whole smoked fish, and an amazing variety of russian smoked meats Go during lunch and you'll get some good food as well.

                                    1. Just wanted to add Diana's Seafood (2101 Lawrence Ave East near Warden) to the list for smoked fish.

                                      Tried their hot smoked salmon for a second time and it is very good. Light smoke, firm texture but still most. They carry a couple of varieties of hot smoked salmon that they reportedly smoke themselves, but I went for the least expensive at $16/lb and it is very good.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                        Update : After repeated unsuccessful attempts to buy some of that delicious hot smoked salmon from Diana's, I learned yesterday (from Jason) that the absence is due to the kitchen reno going on in the adjacent building. Plans are to open a restaurant in the building by summer (permit and inspector approvals allowing). Salmon should be available a little earlier than that (as soon as the kitchen is functioning).

                                        Since Milbree isn't making their hot smoked salmon (yet?) and Central Epicure's is so-so, anyone with a tip for good hot smoked salmon would be appreciated.

                                        PS Diana's cold smoked salmon is also excellent. Yesterday's batch was as good as the best from Kristapson's.

                                      2. I am worried that these "guys coming down from up north" I keep hear about are really selling netted fish. Anyone know the source of their salmon and trout? If they are netted fish, are they legally allowed to sell them ?

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                          Hmmm. I like the locavore parlance for stolen--"foraged."

                                          1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                            Poppi, if they are First Nation they may have that right. I wouldn't hesitate to ask, and try their product.

                                          2. Tried North Fish (per Kagemusha's old recommendation - thanks). It is a modest little "shop front" store located in the plant where they prepare the fish. They had over a dozen different smoked fish including eel, sturgeon, mackerel, trout, salmon, sea bass (?),... Tried the hot smoked trout steaks (skin on / bone in) which was very moist and nicely smoked - excellent and only $8/lb ! Cold smoked whole mackerel had nice flavour but was too mushy for me. Overall great fish, great selection, and great prices.

                                            Also wanted to update that Dianna's has started offering their hot smoked salmon again ($20/lb). Restaurant is STILL under construction though.