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Pristine fresh fish, where art thou?

  • t

Does anyone know where I can obtain some ultra fresh fish loaded with flavor? I don't expect Urasawa quality, but it'd be nice to have something better than the bland and/or rotten smelling stuff. Fish King in Glendale, despite the convenience, is often less than pristine and more damning, insipid tasting no matter the type of fish, Santa Monica Seafood is no better than Fish King albeit more expensive and a long drive for me, LA fish co had absolutely horrible fish, and the other place down past skid row (Pacific?) wouldn't sell to me because they're no longer retail. The fish stands/trucks at Pasadena and Hollywood Farmer's markets always smell raunchy and are seldom shielded against the sun, not to mention that the cut flesh of the fish is swimming in water, not sitting on ice, which negates any possible goodness they might actually offer. And don't get me started on Whole Foods or the asian markets like Ranch 99/Hawaii. Any other suggestions? Thanks.

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  1. If you want to take a drive to the beach, Quality Seafood is the place to go.

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    Quality Seafood
    130 International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, CA

    1. I believe Pacific Fresh Seafood downtown still sells to the public. Bristol Farms is a little better than Whole Foods, Quality Seafood at the pier in Rodondo has a good selection particularly with live shell fish of all kinds. But I agree, it is very hard to find good fish in L.A. I just came back from Marin county and the market there had beautiful fish and a good selection. I couldn't believe the qualitiy. We used to have Phil's Phresh Fish and Gordons but they're gone.

      1. Have you tried IMP? They'll usually let you purchase on their house acct. Just make sure to go early, bring a hat and a cooler. Price list is listed on their web site.

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        International Marine Products
        500 E 7th St, Los Angeles, CA

        1 Reply
        1. re: AAQjr

          I tried going to IMP, but the guy in the lot told me they will only sell to commercial accounts and sent me to Pacific Fresh Seafood. I was able to get into Pacific Fresh Seafood and everything looked good. Prices were closer to retail though.

        2. I really like quality seafood and even better for freshness (but with a much smaller selection) is Pearson's Port down in Newport.

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          Pearson's Port
          100 E Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA

          Quality Seafood
          130 International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, CA

          1 Reply
          1. re: joshekg

            I'll second Pearson's Port. Outstanding freshness.

          2. There's a guy named Stefan Cohrs who sells brilliantly fresh fish at the South Pas FM on Thursdays, including some sashimi-quality. If you get on his email list, Dry Dock Fish Club, he'll send you weekly bulletins about what he has, and if you want something in particular (such as sand dabs, which he finds hard to sell in some places) you can email him and ask. I do not know what other markets he visits. His email is scohrs@gmail.com. His stuff is not cheap but often more than reasonable; we've never been disappointed.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Will Owen

              Stefan's partner in DDF, Norman, is at the Encino farmers market on Sunday mornings.

              They have fantastic, fresh fish. We frequently buy John Dory and salmon filet; the salmon, wild king from Alaska, is some of the freshest, tastiest we ever had. The first time my wife and I had it, after the first bite we looked at each other and said together "OH MY GOD THIS IS GREAT".

              They will do special orders, etc. Frequently, they have Mexican wild shrimp/prawns. I ordered a few pounds for last Christmas dinner, so I could make my version of the Killer Shrimp recipe. They were so friggin' awesome, again, some of the freshest, cleanest tasting shrimp we ever had. The best part was, since Christmas Eve was on a Wednesday night, they delivered the shrimp to me the night before, for no charge even!

              Can't recommend these guys enough.

              1. re: GK in SO

                Yes, that John Dory is insanely good - neither of us had had it before, and we had a mutual moment very much as you describe. The batch of sand dabs I got were also very good, much fresher than we usually get them even in restaurants. I boned the first few I cooked, but they worked much better cooked on the bone.

              2. re: Will Owen

                they also sell at the (new) glendale farmers mkt at the americana on saturday.

                1. re: chez cherie

                  Is this the same Dry Dock Fish out of Fullerton? I've had mixed luck.

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    Yes. What's been your experience w/them? Where have you bought their fish?

                    At the Encino FM, Norman always packs things on ice, another reason that I've always had fantastic fish from them. Salmon, John dory, salmon, scallops, yellowtail, and many others.

                    1. re: GK in SO

                      My problem is not the freshness -- it is always perfectly fresh -- but sometimes the fillets have been done by someone inattentive. Cleaned squid are never actually cleaned (honestly, I don't care if I have to clean them, but don't sell them as cleaned unless they are cleaned). I've also had problems with inattentively shelled shrimp.

                      But, as I said, never a problem with fish that's gone "off", never any problems with pristinity (is that a word??). It is always buried in ice, they always give me a big bag of ice to get the fish home from Irvine, and it's always quite good-tasting.

              3. There are several farmers' markets where J & P West Coast Seafood sell high quality seafood. Yeah, they the trucks don't look like the greatest but the lines of repeat customers who will wait 20+ minutes to place an order speak well of what they offer. Owner (?) Pete Siracusa sells fresh and often wild-caught seafood with prices that I think are fair considering the high-quality of his products. He often has sushi-grade ahi, yellowtail. I like to get some of the more obscure Hawaiian fish he often carries. Scallops, swordfish, mussels, john dory are all fantastic and his salmon is very rich and fatty . Sometimes he has ceviche as well. His fish is always on ice (not swimming in water). He will send you home with ice.

                I have been to his truck is at farmers' markets in Cerritos (Saturdays) and Long Beach (Sundays). I understand he is in Redondo Beach (Thursdays) and also Culver City, Hollywood, Pasadena and West Hollywood (I haven't been to these locations and am not sure on which days of the week the markets are held).

                7 Replies
                1. re: Ringo Gato

                  If you are looking for shellfish, Quality Seafood in Redondo Beach has an excellent selection of shellfish which seems to be of good quality. If you are looking for cut fish (filets or steaks) I would suggest Captain Kidd's just a short walk from Quality Seafood. Quality Seafood has a larger selection, including whole fish, however their quality and freshness is not as reliable as Captain Kidd's. I have never seen any fish for sale at Captain Kidd's that I would be reluctant to eat or serve. Some of the fish at Quality Seafood looks to be past its prime.

                  1. re: Ringo Gato

                    Any one selling such down here in OC!??

                    1. re: OCEllen

                      Dry Dock sells at one OC FM, I believe. I'd have to ask to find out which. They're definitely two or three cuts above most of the fish-truck people - I should know, I've bought from both.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        Tustin, SJC, CM, HB, Laguna Hills and Irvine.

                        I've had, as I said upthread, mixed luck. The freshness is never a problem but I have had inexpert cuts and also their fillets almost never are.

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          What shortcomings have you had with fillets? Too-small pieces or bones? The only fish I've gotten from them with bones were the sand dabs, and they were simply cleaned. I will admit that the fin bases could have been more tightly trimmed. I suppose if I could afford their stuff more often I might run into something to gripe about, but I haven't had that pleasure ;-)

                          1. re: Will Owen

                            I've had fillets that had bones still in. Obviously pin bones are one thing (if you remove them you'll shred the fish) but I've had issues with other bones as well.

                            Not often, but often enough that I have to give thought to whether I have time to comb over the entire piece before I can prep it for cooking.

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                              Whole fish at Drydock is a better bet than their filets. Sometimes the filets seem a little old, too frosty, or weirdly cut. Also, if you get the wrong person tney will try strange substitutions such as tilapia for petrale sole (or nearly any other whtie fish). I have bought from them at the FMs a couple of times and their filets are no better than Trader Joe's frozen. I'd rather spend my fish money on whole fish from vendors who consistently have good fresh fish.