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Jan 25, 2011 05:31 PM

Wow! Fish Monger with more fish varietals than Diana's, Bill's Lobster and T&T combined!!

In the past, when the topics of fresh whole fish or fish mongers/fish markets were being discussed. The name Diana's seafood, Bill's Lobster, St. Lawrence market or T&T were almost always mentioned. I am not here to dispute these suggestions since i recognised each of the aforementioned establishments all have their own strong points. However, if it is fresh fish varietals you are looking for, then the Chinese supermarket - 'First Choice' on the west side of Kennedy just south of the 407 trumps them all! In fact, First choice has more selection than all of the above 'combined'!!
When I went shopping for my Boullabaisse ingredients this morning, I was stunned by the large selection of fish they offered. To name a few:
For 'flats' they have fluke (the size of my 22" computer monitor), Halibut, flounder, 'live' turbot, skate wings...etc
For Garoupa, they have regular west coast black ones plus Florida yellow fin, Mangrove, spotted and strawberry.
For snapper, they have Pacific red snapper, yellow tail snapper, red 'stripped' snapper, bigeye and one I'm not familiar with.
For bass, they have Atlantic stripped bass at least 2 ft long, California bass, European stripped bass as well as local green and black ones
Other impressive finds include 'whole monk fish ( head, skin and all ) , Croakers, Conger eels,
Scorpion fish, Mullets, Porgy and a few varitals of Pompanos. Of course, they also have your normal uninteresting salmon, mackerels, cod, Pickerel...etc

The two types of Snappers which I bought, their eyes were bright and shiney, the gills deep pinkish red and the flesh bouncy and firm, all signs of freshness! I also bought my scorpion fish and conger eel!! Mission accomplished!! Now, the hard work begins!!

So, fellow chowhounders, if you need to search for whole fresh fish and don't mind getting your shoes and trousers wet ( really resembles an Oriental fish market! ). Give 'First Choice' a visit, you'll be amazed!!

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  1. Sounds great Charles, thanks for the tip. Although I am a big fan of Diana's, and their selection is great for TO, I never go looking for something in particular, just buy whatever is best that day.

    PS I'll be sure to bring my rubber soles...

    1. Sounds great Charles. Were the prices competitive? And how was the shellfish selection?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

        For oysters, of course Diana's is THE place. However, for live Rock crabs, Dungeness crabs, Vietnamese crabs, Giant lobsters, geoduck clams, razor clams, steamer clams, mussels, periwinkles etc, they have a decent selection. Price was more than competitive. In fact, I found them cheaper than T&T and 'much cheaper' than Bill's or Diana's! Economy of scale??!!

      2. Thanks for scouting it out! Do you know when they get their shipments in? Any luck with sashimi grade fish/eel?

        6 Replies
        1. re: Underdog Rally

          Thanks for the tip Charles; I know I'll be making a stop there soon!

          1. re: Underdog Rally

            Typical fish market. Wet with tons of selection but unlike Tao, no sushi grade fish or pre[paration station.

            1. re: Underdog Rally

              The usual Tuesday and Thursday delivery.

              1. re: Charles Yu

                Do you know if they sell Monkfish Roe?
                I would love to duplicate an Esca recipe.

                1. re: erly

                  Do they have fresh octopus at this market?

                  1. re: table4onthefly

                    I must apologize I did not pay attention to that. I did notice fresh squid though.

                    As for monkfish roe ( or liver ), erly, I don't think they have but I know occasionally Taro Fish carries them.

            2. That whole store is an adventure. Their produce section, too, can be fantastic. A really wide choice of mushrooms, chilis, greens - much of it packaged in bulk amounts, very inexpensive. It is also the store where I bought a box of "Visacard Chocolates" a horribly failed attempt at imitating Ferraro Rocher - but with peanuts inside and a very bad waxy chocolate outside. The slogan on the box read: "Nonce can not refuse".

              1 Reply
              1. re: Nyleve

                Yes I too have found this place to have great deals on produce, but you should check the product carefully, make sure the veggies on the bottom are not sub par and I check expiry dates on the stuff I get from the shelves i.e noodles, maggi sauce.

              2. First Choice does have great deals in the Fish and Produce section, but you do have to keep an eye out for less than fresh product.

                First Choice Restaurant
                1116 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J1X2, CA