Why Local Fish Costs As Much As It Does

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I'd been hearing about Sushi Bon since the week I moved here as worth the trek an hour north of where I live for fresh, local sushi. I was told to skip the hard copy of the menu and look to the board by the sushi bar. I finally visited several times to see for myself.

I had also heard chef Ebi Hana had been buying fish off the boat, but I was confused. Other chefs had told me buying direct from fishermen is illegal. That most restaurants have to go through fish vendors is part of what keeps the price of local seafood so high. Chef Dean Max of 3030 Ocean, for example, will call his fishermen contacts in Hawaii when the price of local wahoo spikes.

The practice of cultivating relationships with fishermen and shellfish farmers has taken off around the country, with guys like Barton Seaver -- author of For Cod and Country-- prosthelytizing the practice. For his restaurants in D.C., Seaver primarily bought seafood direct from fishermen. Elsewhere in D.C. and New York, the folks behind Luke's Lobster and Red Hook Lobster Pound also cut out middlemen.

This practice combined with attentiveness to the product often results in fresher seafood for lower prices. The only way Floridians can benefit from direct relationships between fishermen and chefs is when restaurant chefs buy from fishermen in other states.

Except when it comes to Ebi Hana at Sushi Bon, whose business is built around a loophole in the law. Ebi's proximity to a marina is part of what allows Sushi Bon to obtain the freshest fish around, confirmed Amanda Nally at Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Check out the rest of the review here.



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