Growing up in China, Ian Wu remembers the days his fisherman father would bring home fresh fish.
“When I was a child I ate a lot of seafood,” he says. “My father would bring back the fish and then we cooked it right away and it tasted so good.”
Since moving to Toronto 20 years ago, Wu says all of his jobs were in the seafood industry and his first meal in the city was also seafood. Five years ago he started thinking about opening his own business and knew there was only one path to take.
“All I do is seafood,” he says. “All I know about is seafood so I wanted to do seafood and I thought this neighbourhood needed a good quality fish store. I was excited to open because I was waiting a long time.”
Yonge Seafood Gourmet, which is located on Yonge Street north of Davisville Avenue, specializes in wild and organic fish including halibut, tuna and salmon, seafood like oysters and lobsters, homemade marinades, crab cakes and a variety of party platters. He says he also provides recipes and advice on how to cook fish and offers catering and delivery.
When it comes to selecting fish, which he does on a daily basis aside from some specialty seafood he ships in from the East Coast, Wu says his main priority is quality and freshness, adding that having decades of experience helps him pick out the best stock.
“A lot of customers say, ‘Why is your fish a little bit different? The taste is a lot better,’ and I say ‘because I use the heart to do the fish,’ ” he says. “I select my fish every morning to bring back to the store and filet it before you come by so it is super fresh.”
Wu says his goal is for customers to think about his family-run store when they think about fresh seafood. Design wise, he wanted to create a warm and comfortable atmosphere and says he prides himself in keeping a clean store that doesn’t have an overpowering odour.
Since opening, he says receiving compliments and positive feedback from people who have tasted his fish or ordered a platter are some of the best parts of owning his store.
“It’s not how much fish you sell,” he says. “The main thing is that people try my product and they love it, so when I hear from all the customers about that, I am so happy, at that moment I feel the best.”
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