Something's Fishy

Legal Sea Foods, Blue Ginger, And, Yes, the Kowloon Mislabel Their Fish

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Who am I? Photo: James Wojcik

A few months ago, we spent a lot of time writing about Legal Sea Foods’ much-maligned sustainable seafood dinner; we also chatted extensively with the very articulate Legal honcho Roger Berkowitz about the restaurant’s intense, meticulous fish-sourcing practices. But his chain’s reputation, along with that of plenty of other restaurants ranging from the upscale (Blue Ginger) to the kitschy (Kowloon), have come under scrutiny over the weekend thanks to a Globe investigation focused on mislabeled fish. Tuna? Haddock? Hake? Who the heck knows!

“A five-month Globe investigation into the mislabeling of fish showed Massachusetts consumers routinely, and unwittingly, buy undesirable fish or other seafood that is simply not what it is advertised to be,” the paper revealed. Ahead, a few notable bummers.

Legal Sea Foods: “The Globe ordered cod, but when a reporter picked up the entree, the receipt indicated it was haddock. Several restaurant employees, including kitchen staff, insisted it was cod.” Berkowitz apologized, saying it was either a miscommunication or a “mix-up.”

H Mart: “At the H Mart supermarket in Burlington, crimson snapper was substituted for the more expensive red snapper. And escolar, which can cause gastrointestinal problems, took the place of white tuna fillets. The store blamed a supplier for the mix-up.” This is unfortunate, as H Mart has long been our go-to for reasonably priced seafood. Alas, those days might be over.

Kowloon: “The operator of Kowloon in Saugus said he was unaware that escolar was being served as white tuna and that tilapia was labeled as red snapper.” We’re guessing this is because everything there is deep-fried to the point of no recognition anyway.

But the weirdest error happened at Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger: “The Alaskan butterfish at celebrity chef Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger in Wellesley was really sablefish, traditionally a staple at Jewish delicatessens, not upscale dining establishments.” When pressed on the issue, Tsai said he “used the name butterfish instead of sablefish simply because it sounds better.”

Aren’t you supposed to be above that kind of thing when you’re Ming Tsai?

On the Menu, But Not on Your Plate [Globe]

Related: Legal Sea Foods CEO Knows More Than Science

Legal Sea Foods, Blue Ginger, And, Yes, the Kowloon Mislabel Their Fish