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New Fish Market In Whitestone Keyfood Supermarket

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For those who live in northern Queens and are looking for a Fish market, a seafood market has opened now for several weeks in of all places, a Keyfood Supermarket in Whitestone, Queens. This is the Keyfood Supermarket in the Beechhurst section of Whitestone in the Cross Island Shopping Center at 153-55 Cross Island Parkway, NY 11357-2648, (718) 767-9317.

Most of the fish are quite fresh and surprisingly the prices are very reasonable for the time being.

The fish are displayed on ice in an open display case with a front glass barrier. Yesterday, there were several whole 8 lb Red Snappers on display, including a whole 8 lb grouper. This is not the typical thing one sees displayed at Queens fish markets that are in a supermarket environment, especially a Keyfood.

We bought salmon steaks for $5.99 (not wild at these prices) yesterday, and for Asian readers on this Forum who love Seabass, several weeks ago we bought a 3.5 lb Seabass for $5.99 per lb (a special sale for that day only; regular price is $6.99 per lb). The Seabass looked like it had just come out of the water. The eyes were crystal clear, the skin was shiny and glistening, there was still a greenish tint on the hump, and the gills were shiny red without any hint of a slimy residue. And the final test was the smell test, where all one could smell was a hint of seawater. But the large Seabass are not always available.

There is a broad variety of fresh fish available. There were tuna and swordfish steaks at $7.99 per lb. While the prices are higher than at the Flushing Chinatown fish markets, the fish tend to be fresher here.

Of course, in making purchases at any fresh fish market, the operative mode is “caveat emptor” as one must inspect the fish very carefully. But the store personnel at this new fish market are very cooperative, as when we asked to smell the salmon steaks we had selected, they immediately handed the salmon steaks in the brown wrapping paper to us to smell.

We asked the store personnel when their store gets their seafood deliveries, but they wouldn’t tell us, but only said that fish comes in every single day.

There have been days that we have been at the fish market that some of the fish did not look as fresh, hence one must be on their toes in making purchases.

For those interested, here is the link to the present Keyfood Supermarket sales circular that is working today, where the seafood sales for this week are on page 4: ( http://keyfood.mywebgrocer.com/Circul...

)

If the link above does not work, here is the link to the Keyfood Beechhurst location: (http://www.keyfood.com/locationResult... ), where one can click on the “circular” icon for the Beechhurst Keyfood store.

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Key Food
153-55 Cross Island Pkwy, Queens, NY 11354

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  1. Thanks, lwong. I've been a patron of Park's for years and years, but I will give this a shot.

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    Park's Seafood Center
    24-22 149th St, Queens, NY 11357

    7 Replies
    1. re: ZenFoodist

      We have not shopped at Park’s fish market, as we pretty much shop at the Flushing Chinatown’s fish markets, since the prices there are quite low, hence we are unable to give a comparison between the Park’s and the new Keyfood fish markets in terms of price, freshness, and value.

      But there have been days, usually on Thursdays or Fridays (our guess as to when most of the fish are delivered) that the fish at the Keyfood fish market are quite fresh, with most of the fish fillets glistening and surprisingly with many whole fish for sale.

      We also noticed from the sales circular that the Keyfood fish market has live Prince Edward Island mussels for sale at just $1.99 per lb, which is quite a good price. Live lobsters (we assume that they are soft shell lobsters or shedders) are for sale at $4.99 per lb.

      The Keyfood fish market also meets the higher standards of non-Asians in the overall cleanliness of the fish market.

      As mentioned in the prior posting, the prices are quite good for the time being. The price we paid for the salmon steaks last week was cheaper than at the Flushing Chinatown fish markets. Hence the question is whether these low prices are just for a short duration to gain customer word of mouth and the plan is to raise the prices in the future. It is not easy to beat the Flushing Chinatown fish markets, especially when Keyfood is offering fresher fish than the Chinatown fish markets. If the Keyfood fish market intends to keep these low prices, than they would have to make up for the lower prices with higher volume sales. Operating a fish market business where your product is highly perishable and trying to make a profit in this intense competitive market is not an easy task.

      Like the movie “Field of Dreams” starring Kevin Costner, Keyfood has built a fish market section, now they are anxiously waiting for the crowds to come.

      Time will tell if the Keyfood management has made a correct marketing decision in opening a fresh fish market in the Beechhurst section of Whitestone.

      1. re: lwong

        Lwong, you always make me smile. I like the Field of Dreams reference :)

        I, too, shop at the Chinatown fish markets and considering HMART and M and T (?...not sure of the name...used to be the movie theater on Northern and about 161st Street...ugly peach colored building) are about a 5 minute walk from our home, I find myself at these places a lot. The fish is cheap and fresh at these places, but the fishmongers generally dont know too much about it. Where it came from etc.

        Park's is Korean-owned and is on 150th in Whitestone. It has a huge following with the local Italians and Greeks. Fridays during Lent are a madhouse and Christmas Eve...you can't imagine! The fish is a bit more expensive, but they have DRY scallops (without the additives...they sear so nicely!) and halibut and many fish (filets) I do not see at the Chinese markets. The turnover is very quick, and I have never had a bad piece of fish there. But you pay the price.

        Do you have any tips/rules for fish-buying at the Chinese markets? WHich is your favorite?

        Shei Shei ;)
        lisa

        1. re: ZenFoodist

          As you are aware, the frugal Chinese never like to “pay the price,” hence we usually do not shop at the higher price fish markets. (LOL)

          We shop at most of the large Asian grocery stores in eastern Queens and in Flushing Chinatown, but we usually do not buy from the H-Mart fish market on Northern Blvd, as we feel the prices are too high for the freshness that they offer.

          Well, not sure that we have any special tips for shopping at the Chinese fish markets, but basically it is following your common sense and utilizing the same rules for buying most things in life, but here are some of our laymen’s checklist rules for buying fish in the Chinatowns:

          a. Caveat Emptor: This cannot be over emphasized as the Chinese fish markets similar to the Chinese BBQ stores do not want to lose money by throwing away old fish or BBQ, hence they have the many standard methods to disguise less than fresh fish to sell to unsuspecting customers who are not aware of how to determine if the fish and seafood are fresh. This is understandable as the fish markets operate on very thin profit margins. We have seen the fish markets cutting a live Carp and letting the blood drip onto earlier cut in half Carp sections to fool customers into thinking that the Carp have just been killed. For this reason, we will look for a beating Carp heart (the Chinese fish stores have not figured out how to simulate a beating Carp heart yet) to indicate that the fish has just been freshly killed. The price is lower for dead Carp than the swimming Carp. This information is not of much use to non-Asians, as there are just too many bones in Carp for most non-Asians, but the meat is quite sweet and tender, and cheap too, but one must of course be very careful in eating the Carp. Asians from much practice naturally are experts in avoiding the many slivers of bones in Carp.

          b. No Fish Agenda: Similar to going to the local library for free movie DVD’s, one must not have any particular fish in mind to buy, as one must have a “Pot Luck” attitude to buy only those available seafood that are the freshest and at a reasonable price.

          c. No Loss Leaders: When it comes to pricing, the Chinese fish markets are very straightforward capitalists, although we are beginning to see “loss leaders” for the dry goods and vegetables at the larger Chinese supermarkets. But this practice has not yet migrated down to the Chinese fish markets. The Chinese fish markets are like “Filene’s Basement” where “Filenes” will mark down items week by week if they do not sell. In the same manner, the Chinese fish markets will mark down seafood eventually when the seafood does not sell. This means that when one sees a fish item that is cheaper than the normal market price at other fish markets, invariably this usually means the seafood item is past it’ prime. There is definitely no free lunch at the Chinatown fish markets. This advice goes for the fresh fruit also. Every time we have bought very low price fruit compared to the pricing of the same fruit at other fruit stores, we have found after coming home and eating the sale priced fruit that they are either dark colored on the inside from having been frozen, or the fruit is not sweet, no taste, no texture, or some other deficiency. We no longer buy any fruit that is especially lower priced compared to the other fruit stores. Upon reflection, one can only blame ourselves, since if you were to complain to the store, our guess is that they would state, “What did you expect for such a low price?” It would be hard to argue with that logic. (LOL)

          However, depending upon one’s pocketbook and one’s need for having the freshest fish, one can sometimes get good value by buying fish that have been marked down to lower than market price at the Chinese fish markets. Each person will have to use their own discretion as to what is the acceptable value threshold in terms of the trade-off for price and freshness. For the freshest quality at the Chinese fish markets, this would be when the price is the highest for the item in question. One must of course shop often enough at the Chinese fish markets to get a feel of the Chinatown fair market prices. It should be noted that the Chinese fish markets do not have the absolute freshest fish available (this is for the already dead fish), as in order to keep their prices low, they do not get the “A” quality fish, but the “B” quality. It would be quite rare to see Seabass as fresh as the one we bought at the Keyfood fish market the other week. Hence typically, the best fish and seafood one can get at the Flushing fish markets is the top of the “B” range quality seafood, although every once in a while, we will see some very fresh fish at the Chinatown fish markets, where we assume that the Flushing fish markets have been able to cut good wholesale deals at the Fulton fish market or through private fisherman. Where the Chinatown fish markets excel are in the large variety of live swimming fish and other live seafood available at reasonable prices. During certain times, one can obtain live shrimp at the Flushing fish markets. But while the various live fish are good, they of course will not be as good as their wild live equivalents.

          The Hong Kong fish market on Main Street will sometimes have live Seabass in the tanks, but they would not be as tasty as a wild live Seabass. On a business trip to Newport, RI, a number of years ago, our hotel was right next door to a wholesale lobster company, and a by product of their lobster catch are Seabass that have been caught in the lobster traps. The lobster wholesaler had a very brisk business selling the live Seabass to local restaurants. We of course being a lover of Seabass, bought one large Seabass from the lobster company and flew home with it to NYC scaring everyone on the commuter aircraft as the Seabass would periodically have a death throe and thrash around in the bag causing everyone on the plane to wonder what we had in the bag. We immediately steamed the Seabass that night (less than 8 hours out of the water when we steamed the Seabass) and the flesh was much more firmer and with better taste than the live Seabass from Chinatown.

          d. Seldom Buy Fillets: Chinese typically do not buy fillets, hence unless one knows for sure that the Chinese fish markets buys their fillets wholesale themselves, one should not buy any fillets. The exceptions to this rule that we are aware are the salmon steaks/fillets and Codfish fillets, as salmon is usually cut up from whole salmon by the fish markets and we have seen them take out the Codfish fillets from wholesale round containers. Most of the other few fillets on display are usually ones from whole fish that they have been unable to sell that they have filleted. It is much harder to tell whether a fillet is fresh than a whole fish, where one can easily tell the freshness of a whole fish by looking at the eyes, the skin, and the gills of the fish, but the best way to find out if a fish is fresh is to smell the fish or fillet, where at Chinese fish markets this can be easily done, as the fish are displayed on open ice beds with no glass barriers shielding the fish and there are no issues for customers to select their own fish. In fact the Flushing fish markets expect that their customers will want to select their own fish. One can put their hands in a plastic bag to handle the seafood to keep your hands clean and also not contaminate the seafood. The only exception are the shellfish selections and the live swimming fish, where the fish markets will have an employee handle the shellfish and live fish for the customers, since the fish market does not want the customers to kill their shellfish and live fish with too much handling.

          e. Choosing the Fish and Seafood:

          No doubt you are aware of how to tell if fish and seafood is fresh, hence the links below are for any wayward readers who have accidentally stumbled upon this post, and who might not know how to determine if fish is fresh:

          These sites have general methods and hints for assessing the freshness of fish:

          a. http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/in...
          b. http://www.divinecaroline.com/33710/4...
          c. http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Buy-Fr...
          d. http://www.jamieoliver.com/news/how-t...
          e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBZ6C9...

          For the technically inclined, here are several sites discussing new technology for measuring how fresh a fish is, but it is not clear when an instrument would be cheap enough, if ever, for retail customers to use to test the freshness of fish. It uses spectroscopy to determine freshness of the fish:

          a. http://www.thefishsite.com/articles/3...
          b. http://www.seafish.org/media/Publicat...

          In buying live shellfish, there are some problematic issues if they are all in a crowded tank, as it is very difficult to make your own selection of the best and most lively Vancouver crabs and lobsters. If possible we will look for the liveliest crabs and lobsters moving around in the tank and ask the fish market to get the particular crab or lobster that we want, but this is not always possible and one will have to accept the selection of the fish market if their prices are very good. One issue in buying them from the crowded tank is that the employee will hold up the shellfish for a second or two for your concurrence to the purchase and then immediately put the crabs or lobsters in a bag for weighing while there is still much water in the crab or lobster. Paying for water is not a good idea.

          But in some Chinatown fish markets, they will put out a small number of the Vancouver crabs and lobsters in either water or on ice where one can judge if the lobsters and crabs are sufficiently lively by actually handling them. We would want to pick up the lobsters to see how lively they are. Ideally, the claws should rise up quickly in the air like a victorious sports player and the tail should arch back under your hand. The lobster should feel strong and have the weight for their particular size. If it looks like a 1.5 lb lobster, it should also weigh the same. If they are limp, weak, and light, this is not a good sign, as it means that they probably have been in the tank for too many days. Remember the shellfish are not being fed while waiting in the tanks, hence they are getting weaker day by day as they wait for their death sentence to be carried out for our eating pleasure.

          For the Vancouver crabs, again we will try to see if they are lively when we pick them up and also if they feel heavy for their size. If they have been in water, we try to hold them and let the water drain out if this is the crab we want to buy.

          For the live fish, like the shellfish, we will look for liveliness and without any open sores on the fish and select a fish on this basis, but again like the shellfish, in very crowded tanks, this may not be possible for you to select your particular fish and one must take the selection of the fish market. One only has a few seconds after the fish market nets the live fish to determine if the fish is sufficiently lively and without sores. One tries to see how much the fish struggles after being taken out of the water. It is more of an art form now, since you are unable to handle the fish, but can only make a decision whether to purchase the fish based upon seeing it for a few seconds. In most cases, however, the fish are usually fairly lively.

          e. Shop Around: When in Flushing Chinatown, we will usually walk around to quite a few of the fish markets to check out what is available, the prices, and the freshness of the seafood, and then decide whether to buy or not and which store to buy from. Obviously, this entails a tradeoff between money and time, as in order to get the best price and the freshest seafood, one must expend precious time walking around to all the various fish markets. This is why it is better to be a huge Mega Lottery winner as one can just go to established stores with known reputations for providing top quality products and services at premium prices of course, but as a large Lottery winner, money is no object now, but time becomes paramount. Unfortunately, none of our lottery tickets have won yet.

          f. Be Selective: After shopping at the Chinatown fish markets sufficient times to know which seafood you enjoy eating and which also meet your threshold for acceptable freshness and price at the various Chinatown fish markets, stick with these tried and true seafood items in the future. For our family, we like Wan Yu Carp (dead or alive although the recently dead ones are cheaper), Seabass (mostly dead ones, but sometimes live), Codfish fillets, salmon steaks, swimming Tilapia, swimming Striped Bass, shellfish (lobsters, crabs, conch, shrimp, and various clams), live frogs, whiting, Belt fish, fluke, flounder, and Skate fish.

          g. Particular Fish Markets: We buy mostly on the freshness of the seafood item we are interested in, as like the Chinatown restaurants, the fish markets are also highly inconsistent in the quality of their fish and seafood. We have not noticed any particular fish market in Flushing Chinatown consistently having good quality fresh seafood across the board available all the time at good prices and what differences there are between the various fish markets are not sufficient enough to make any particular fish market stand out from the crowd. Since none of the Chinatown fish markets are prepared to pay top wholesale prices for their fish and seafood to get “A” quality seafood, the quality of their fish products will be much more variable. This is why it is important to shop around at all of the Flushing fish markets in order to see what each fish market is selling. One must wear out a lot of shoe leather and/or gasoline to get the best and freshest available fish and seafood. But typically, we are always shopping at several grocery stores for the vegetables, fruits, seafood, and dry goods that our family needs, hence this is not major issue to check several fish markets for the freshest seafood. There will be days that one fish market will have one type of fish that is quite fresh, but for whatever reason, none of the other fish markets will have them or they are not as fresh at the other fish markets, or there are price differences. And there are sometimes price differences of 50 cents to a dollar per lb for the equivalent freshness. Sometimes we wonder if it is worth all this effort to save several dollars for each seafood item, but since it is ingrained in most Asian shopper’s DNA to be frugal, we have no choice except to follow our destiny. But it certainly keeps the Chinese fish markets on their toes when a large majority of the Asian shoppers are constantly comparison-shopping for the best prices and in a sense performing our required role and responsibility in a free market to be knowledgeable customers in order to create an efficient fair market price.

          h. Avoid Hidden Fish Cleaning Stations: Although most Chinatown fish markets clean the fish at open cleaning stations now, there was a time when several Chinatown fish markets would have hidden fish cleaning stations. We like to see what the fish market is doing with our fish while it is being cleaned, hence we would not shop at fish markets that had hidden cleaning stations in the past. Although the following story is unrelated to fish markets, it does indicate the extent of unsavory practices at the Chinese grocery stores, where one of our friends whenever he buys a roast duck from the BBQ places, will always take the duck whole and chop it themselves when they get home rather than have the store chop it for free, since he feels that sometimes he is missing portions of the duck when the store chops the duck. This does not happen all the time, but enough times that our friend would want to take the trouble to chop the Duck themselves on principle. Our family has decided to take the duck and other BBQ losses and try to be as vigilant as we can in watching the BBQ places chop our BBQ items, but quite a few of the BBQ places have half hidden or fully hidden chopping stations and many of the BBQ employees have hands as fast as magicians, hence one must accept that one will take losses when one allows the BBQ places to chop your BBQ items, as it is too much trouble to chop the BBQ items ourselves as the duck juices and sometimes pieces of duck fly all over the place. As mentioned in previous postings over the years about Chinese BBQ, one has to accept that the Chinese BBQ places will sometimes give you less than fresh BBQ, sometimes add extra undesirable pieces of BBQ to your order, sometimes divert away pieces of your order, and other unsavory practices, as all the Chinatown BBQ’s will do this. Basically, with all the BBQ shenanigans, the effective BBQ prices are higher, and in some ways it might be preferable for the BBQ places to charge the higher real prices in the first place and throw away the less than fresh BBQ items and the undesirable BBQ items, but with the cut throat competition in the Chinatowns, we can understand why the BBQ stores would want to set lower prices for their items and then surreptitiously recoup their money back. It is a very difficult and competitive business world for the Chinese grocery stores and they will behave less than ethically in order to survive.

          Any checklist rules, tips, and secrets that we have missed that you use in your shopping at the Flushing fish markets.

          P.S. We were at the Keyfood fish market on Thursday, 21 April 2011, and were able buy two very fresh Seabass again, one at 3 lbs and the second one for a friend at 2.76 lbs. And we were very surprised to see a complete whole 160 lb swordfish (with the sword) displayed in the window case. We also picked up a dozen small eastern oysters that we were advised had been harvested that morning from the north shore of Long Island at Mt. Sinai harbor. We shucked them immediately after coming home and with a little fresh lime juice, slurped them all down within 10 minutes. We had planned to shuck them all first and put them on a plate to be eaten in a civilized manner at the table, but after trying one after shucking it, our family ate them as fast as we shucked them one by one at the kitchen counter. They were quite good, with a clean and briny flavor. We should have bought two dozen.

          1. re: lwong

            wow, you're either out of your mind, or completely brilliant, or a bit of both! What a checklist!

            1. re: janie

              Probably “out of our mind,” as even we would have to admit that this posting is much longer than our usual typical very verbose posting. But the words kept coming and we couldn’t stop until we thought we had covered most of the topics. (LOL)

              In a recent NYT’s article ( http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/sci... ) about the characteristics of people who have the longest longevity, the primary characteristic was “conscientiousness.” A quote from the NYT’s article is below:

              "The key traits are prudence and persistence. 'The findings clearly revealed that the best childhood personality predictor of longevity was conscientiousness,' they write, 'the qualities of a prudent, persistent, well-organized person, like a scientist-professor somewhat obsessive and not at all carefree.'”

              We are hoping that we are one of those people considered being “conscientiousness” as shown by this “out of our mind” very lengthy posting and enhance the probability of our living a long long life. (LOL)

              1. re: lwong

                your posts are always informative and reflect both wit and authority, and i've printed many for future reference--thank you for your expertise! And let's hope for a long life for us both! Certainly thinking about your next meal, is a reason to live one more day!

                1. re: lwong

                  lwong, my pidgin Chinese will have to do: Wo Ai Ni! You rock! xoxo

      2. The first time I visited this Key Food was for their Grand Reopering several weeks ago and I've been back several times since then.

        The fish market is outstanding - quality, freshness, selection, customer service, enthusiasm and pride in their product. Very impressive.

        I plan to return again and again.