The eight Portland-area outlets of Sonny Kim's Mio Sushi empire go through a lot of fish any given day—so much so that the chain buys its sashimi fodder in very, very large quantities, and distributes the fish to its restaurants from a Slabtown neighborhood warehouse. If you've got the space and the fish, why not just run a fish counter? Kim did just that, quietly opening Mio Seafood Market one month ago. "Besides Newman's [Fish Market], there's nowhere around here to buy good fish," said counterman Brian Heyman, a veteran of Newman's venerable Eugene operation. "It works great for us, because we've got eight restaurants to use whatever we don't sell, so there's no loss whatsoever." Indeed, the fish is very fresh—big, bright fillets of salmon, lingcod and striped martin shining under the glass, without a bit of ice (which would be necessary to cover up odor) in sight. The Market also carries some pre-cut sashimi from the restaurants, along with all the ingredients you'll need to make your own rolls (nori, fish roe, udon and soba noodles) and some very inexpensive vegetables (avocados for $1.50 a pound.). But what really caught my eye were the sardines, which, at $2.49 per pound seemed too good to be true. "They're great right now," Heyman explained. "[Tuna fishermen] fish them on the way out, then use them as bait on the way back to shore." Well, consider me hooked.
GO: Mio Seafood Market, 1703 NW 16th Ave., 972-1140, miosushi.com. 9 am-6 pm Monday-Saturday.