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Food: Go 'fishing' at new live seafood mart in Pali Naka

Mumbai's seafood lovers can pick fish from a new live seafood mart in Bandra to open later this week. Suprita Mitter and restaurateur-chef Meldan D'Cunha drop in to shop at the urban fish pond

We weren't sure of what to expect when we learnt that a new 'live' seafood mart was to open in the city. Located in one of Bandra's busiest roads, off Pali Naka, a large signboard greeted us at the Cambay Tiger Sea Food Mart.

Also read: The Bombay Duck's history with Mumbai

The Tilapia in the aquarium. pics/ Nimesh Dave
The Tilapia in the aquarium. Pics/ Nimesh Dave

Fish in all shapes and sizes lay frozen in ice-packed counters. From the ground floor where we stood, we spotted the glass bottom fish tank that sits on the first level. This mini replica of an aquarium had us excited. Soon, we were making fish faces to the large Tilapia in the aquarium.

Price board at the store. For more pics, log on to mid-day.com

"We breed Tilapia fish at our farm in Lavasa; the prawns are from Gujarat," explains Shivam Gupta, director, Cambay Tiger.

Also read: Decoding the 'As Per Catch' pricing of seafood at Mumbai's restaurants

Restaurateur, chef and seafood expert Meldan D'Cunha who accompanied us, tried his hand at fishing from the aquarium. The mart has trained butchers who will clean and cut the fish as per choice — filleted, steaked or chunked —and vacuum-seal it.

Meldan D'Cunha, owner, Soul Fry, fishes out a Tilapia
Meldan D'Cunha, owner, Soul Fry, fishes out a Tilapia

There's a small printed barcode to inform the customer of the weight of the fish, which is scanned and billed accordingly.

These are current standard market rates. Unless market rates fluctuate a lot, we won't alter prices," assures Gupta.

Floating costs
D'Cunha was also curious about the procurement of the fish since he buys his stock himself every morning from Citylight market in Mahim. Gupta shared that the Tilapia costs R400 per kg while the Scampi depends on size (R700 per kg — approximate; the one we spotted is sold frozen, for R1,500 per kg). "We have a procurement team that works with local fishermen. We also import fish. I don't wish to limit myself to freshwater or sea water fish," Gupta reveals.

Shivam Gupta, director, Cambay Tiger, picks up a Tuna
Shivam Gupta, director, Cambay Tiger, picks up a Tuna

Gupta started this live seafood mart since he didn't want Cambay Tigers to be limited to being a frozen seafood brand. "I wanted to do something that wasn't done before. We have a strong back-end, so we took the plunge. Our frozen packets are 30-40 per cent more expensive than others sold in the market, so it is recognised as a premium brand already. When people step in, I am keen that they buy fresh, healthy and organic food," he says. Challenges like maintenance and consistency of quality, are obvious. Yet, Gupta is confident that what will be operationally impossible for other seafood brands, is possible for him since they breed their own fish.

Coming soon
There are plans to introduce a wholesale section for restaurateurs soon. They will also have a section where customers can pick up filleted, marinated fish to grill at home. "This outlet allows people to see and experience the quality that we invest in. After they are confident of our product, I want to convert it into an e-commerce, app-based model," he reveals. At the moment, home delivery covers Bandra but Gupta plans to extend the service to other suburbs as well.

Expert Speak

"Everybody wants fresh seafood. With seafood, the most important aspect is the turnover as the quality drops soon. The prices are a little higher than at the local market, but considering the novelty factor, that they stay open till late and will home deliver, it will work. I have a regular supplier but if he runs out on certain days, I will buy from Cambay. Rs 170 for a Pomfret is a decent rate. Tilapia is tasty but bony, and is not very expensive. The Scampi will be a hit and so will the prawns that Mumbai loves
— Meldan D’Cunha

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