Berkeley Neighborhoods Council


Dedicated to improving the quality of life for all
by creating a unified neighborhood voice
for promoting livability and resolving problems


On The Neighborhood Food Prowl

In each Berkeley Neighborhoods Council eNEWS edition, our BNC reviewer (who will always be anonymous) will include a review of a favorite neighborhood food business.  The choice for this issue is in West Berkeley:  drum roll please . . .

Toyko Fish Market and Gift Shop
1220 San Pablo Avenue (just north of Gilman)
Berkeley, CA 94706
(510) 524-7243
Open Monday through Saturday, 9am - 6pm

If you are an adventuresome foodie, Toyko Fish Market is for you.  However, it's not just a fish market, even though it probably has the freshest fish in the whole East Bay.  They say that dependent on the time of year, they may have over 100 different kinds of fish.  On September 27 of this year just to name a few, this reviewer could choose among Opah, Corvina, Mahi Mahi, Petrale Sole, Rock Cod, King Salmon, Tilapia, Catfish, Tombo, Maguro, Day Boat Scallops, 5 different kinds of oysters, 3 different types of clams, 2 different types of mussels,  live crab, crab meat, a variety of shrimp and prawns, and whole fish with everything nicely labeled as to origin and whether it is fresh or has been frozen.  They also had fresh chicken, shabu-shabu pork, ribeye steaks, and Acme bread baguettes.

Besides all of this you can pick up food to go choosing from various bento boxes, salmon salad (great on a toasted bagel for breakfast), sliced or block Bluefin Tuna or Hamachi, cooked octopus, and sushi from California rolls, Mini Chirashi, to Dragon Rolls, and everything in between including sliced smoked salmon.  The sushi comes with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger and they will give you chop sticks and napkins at the check stand. A favorite lunch for 2 of us is to put a small bottle of chilled white wine in the car, pick up a box of California and Inari ($4.99) and some sliced bluefin (around $9.00) to split and drive to Cesar Chavez Park, sit on the bench and watch the sail boats on the Bay with San Francisco, the Golden Gate and Mt. Tam in the background while you nibble.

They also carry great produce identified as to where it comes from and a large variety of rice (reading the story of Koda Farms heritage rice printed on the label is wonderfully entertaining), sake, soft drinks and Japanese beer (Sapporo and Ichiban in the cold box - in case you forgot the chilled wine).  There is also a large variety of noodles, soup bases, kimchi, flours you can't get elsewhere, canned goods, sauces (even wasabi mayonnaise), special pancake mixes, jams and sweets, and roasted peas.  You can also buy dairy products, ice cream with interesting flavors like ginger, and such items as edamame, Portuguese sausage, frozen gyoza, dumplings and wonders of all wonders, 3 kinds of frozen chili and Portuguese Bean soup from that one-of-a-kind hangout in Oahu, Hawaii, Zippy's ($8.99 a box).

A bonus is the Gift Shop in a separate building that sells fascinating craft books and cookbooks featuring various types of Asian cuisine, and also Japanese dishes, glasses, bamboo cutting boards and implements of all kinds, children's toys, tee shirts, woks, cooking tools, doo-dads, art, toiletries and even toothpaste.  The range of goods here is unbelievable and fascinating.

It's a family owned business that opened on San Pablo Avenue in 1963, and underwent extensive remodeling in 2005.  Parking is on-site and the couple that own the place are usually around so if you want advice and guidance deciphering a Japanese label or have questions about a product, they and their staff are always friendly and willing to help.