On a cold, rainy afternoon I stumble into Seafood Market, a tiny storefront on Central Ave. SE and 7th Street. I head toward the display case full of fish fillets: deep orange wild Alaska sockeye salmon, pink tuna, and trim pieces of white basa, flounder and snapper. Unlike many seafood stores, the quantities are small, just two or three pieces of most fish. However, Seafood Market does offer something that may be better -- cooked seafood meals made to order.
One order of Fish N' Chips ($7.25) is a filling meal at Seafood Market.
Though the place is tiny, just five two-person tables with pale green chairs, the decorations give it a playful, homespun feel. Fishnets hang on the storefront windows and a lobster and few fish are painted on the walls. It’s so low-key, it feels a little like being at a friend’s house. The woman who takes my order for fish n' chips is talking on the phone, mixing words of Russian, Armenian, Georgian and English. There’s a TV on in the dining area and, in between calls, she tells me I can watch anything I want.
The woman is Nora Ivanova. She and her husband, Nikolay, opened the shop just three years ago, after emigrating from Georgia (think Eastern Europe, not Southern U.S.) in 1995. Rather than working with seafood, in her home country Ivanova was an accountant and her husband, an engineer and welder. She did, however help a sister who ran a shop that sold a variety of foods, including fish n’ chips. When I ask if the dish was popular in Georgia, she says, “Of course -- it’s English recipe!”
A variety of fish is available at Seafood Market, 628 Central Ave. SE.
Ivanova’s son works as a wholesaler and imports the store's seafood from Alaska. In addition to fish n’ chips, she tells me other popular menu items include the salmon sandwich, shrimp skewers with fries, and the fish taco, a tortilla filled with marinated tilapia, rice, and onion.
Given the similarity to a friend’s house, the service is not the quickest. I wait at least ten minutes and hear the crackling oil as Ivanova makes the fish n’ chips in the back of the store. The smell of a deep fryer drifts throughout the shop.
When the basket of food finally does make it out from behind the counter, I am pleased by the look of it -- everything is hot; the two large tilapia fillets sit on a bed of thick wedge French fries accompanied by a few cool spears of pickle. On the table sit bottles of salt, pepper, hot sauce, and malt vinegar. Tarter sauce and ketchup packets are available on a side table. The fried crust is light, but the fillets a tad too fishy. Still, the combo of the white flakes of meat, the fried crust and the potato together are a winner -- all in all, hitting the spot if you are a fish n’ chip lover.
Seafood Market also sells drinks, salad dressings, pasta, and strawberry tea bags.
I eat as much as I can before asking Ivanova, “Can I take the rest home?”
“Restroom? Sorry, no restroom.”
“No, can I take the rest home?,” I ask again, pointing to my food.
“Yes! I bring you,” she says and returns with a white Styrofoam box. As I pile the rest of my meal into the box, a man walks in and orders a pound of jumbo shrimp. The market, becomes once again, a simple fresh seafood store.