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Fishmonger's Market recently opened in Mission Hills and brings in the dedicated Frank Terzoliis as THE fishmonger to see. Frank has a load of credentials which includes heading one of the top ten fish distributions, so don't expect anything less than the freshest, high quality seafood from this place. We eagarly listened to his words, wisdom from lessons learned as well as struggles he overcame during his rise through this industry. He's one amazing man to get to know so make sure to say hi if you stop in!
Here's a peek at their fresh seafood for purchase. The market has a huge selection of in-season products and tries to source locally if available. Making a special appearance that week was the Cabrilla Seabass from Mexico. Frank mentioned it was a bycatch product, meaning it was caught during commercial fishing for a different species. He was quite excited about this particular fish and especially how it cooked up buttery and flakey! That's my kind of fish so hopefully we'll return to try it (or be forced to wait until next season). On the far left was another fish, Baccala from Canada. This salted fish was preserved initially, then prior to use will go through a rehydration cycle to wash off the salts and make it ready to eat. We were able to sample this later in the visit.
Do you notice the behavior of that bottom right fish? I was both fascinated and amused by the grand presentation of the seafood.
On the other side of the market display was the section with in-house smoked fish. Frankie offered us a taste of the Indian candy smoked salmon. It's a bit hard to describe though it reminded us of beef jerky with a very light chew and a slightly sweeter exterior. This is worth trying if you are in the market for something special!
The crudo menu was the spot to showcase the fresh seafood. David was concentrating on our food behind the bar counter.
What a gorgeous appetizer this Cucumber King Crab is, right? I was surprised with the subtle tease of honey and the light saltiness of the cavier. The thick cucumber presented a nice bedding but tastewise seemed to fight for the spotlight against the mild crab meat. Dennis prefers his crab with stronger flavors like savory, salty, and garlicky but still found this cold style nice and sweetly unique.
The Mango Hamachi from the crudo bar was my absolute favorite bite! The hamachi crudo was a beautifully smooth, melt in your mouth kind of fish. A few shreds of mango really came through to extend that sweetness and this delicious bite disappeared too quickly into my mouth! There are several variations of the hamachi but this was the most popular version.
Our last crudo was the Strawberry Oyster, which typically comes in threes. Since Dennis doesn't care for oysters, I asked to sample one on my own. This came with microgreens, a thin strip of strawberry and a sampling of caviar though too small to taste individually. As a whole, it was a yummy bite that wasn't too briny. If you wanted more, one nibble of that green branch imparted a burst of salty water, as if you were "taking a bite of the sea," as heard from general manager Mike.
All items on the crudo menu were $9 and had four per order other than the crab and oysters which were sets of three. The crudo here didn't go overboard on the accents and allowed us to taste the seafood itself. A little craftmanship goes a long way into making this taste just right.
This vivid Baccala Salad was our grand opening to the unfamiliar world of salted fish. The salt could still be detected after the rehydration process but the most interesting characteristic was the final fish texture! It seemed to shred away like meat but still kept a firm feeling in your mouth. The purple potatoes were unexpectedly bright but tasted like regular potato with skins that soaked up the seasoning, similar to the chickpeas. This protein packed salad was dressed with some kind of olive oil or garlic or lemon without adding oiliness or negative tastes to the dish. I kept sneaking in more bites because it was so different but Dennis was less of a fan. This is definitely enough for a meal so share as an appetizer if you're still iffy on salted fish.
The New England Style Clam Chowder came out with a pretty serving bowl, topped with some fresh herbs and accompanied by crusty bread. I enjoyed the milky consistancy with the plentiful chunks of oyster and other goodies inside. Dennis claimed it won over other version because of the additional veggies that infused a stand out flavor. My dip-happy husband also wanted more bread for soaking up the soup.
It's impossible to ignore lobster on a menu so our next dish had to be the Maine Lobster Roll. One brilliant trick we noticed was how the lobster was separated from the bread using a lettuce boat! The lobster meat was dressed lightly with a mayo butter mix and wasn't heavy, despite looking that way. Another surprise was how perfectly crispy these thick cut fries turned out. The simple parmesan, salt and herb seasoning kept us reaching for more, despite our tummies hitting that "almost too full" point. There's no stopping us when it comes to food.
You're gonna love these delicate bites of the ocean... they help build bones. Yet another fun statement courtesy of general manager Mike as he described our next dish, Manila Clams. These were added to the menu the week after our visit and it was Dennis's favorite dish of the day. The small Manila clams were paired with italian sausage with fennel and a simmering broth of white wine and garlic. Great crusty bread was once again essential for dipping into the sauce, though the saltiness intensified as we reached bottom. We prodded shells with fingers, used forks to dig out the good stuff, then spooned broth, sausage and bread into our mouths. Tasty bites!
The plush white seats and hanging lights at the bar were modern while the darker woods and holiday poinsettias kept our spirits jolly. The restaurant portion had plenty of regular tables plus a community table or two. There was even a patio area where you could view the sunset in the evenings. Our waitress Michelle kept a smile on her face as she handled our table and Mike dropped by occasionally to make sure food was up to par. Fishmonger's Market is first and foremost a market but these bites help consumers see some of the possibilities of the seafood sold here. This spot seems off to a great start and we can't wait to see how the community embraces every facet of it! Hopefully a little more seafood cooking at home is in our future too!
Disclaimer: We were invited to dine here and our food was complimentary. We were not otherwise compensated and all opinions stated are our own
1735 Hancock St Suite R
San Diego CA 92101