This NJ Company Ships Michelin Quality Fish Directly to Your Doorstep

by Peter Candia
Yama Seafood

The best restaurants in the world take sourcing very seriously. Whether it’s an onion or a hunk of meat, careful consideration goes into where they might choose to get it from. This extends across the entire list of ingredients one might find in a high-end professional kitchen. Chefs are obsessive, and even the slightest change from their standard of quality can be detrimental. 

This thought process intensifies when it comes to seafood. If fish is going to be front and center in any way, it is paramount that it is sourced properly. Chefs will often trial several purveyors before settling on one that they deem worthy. In New York and New Jersey, the best chefs source their fish from Yama Seafood in Jersey City. 

Yama Seafood

Nobu Yamanashi runs Yama Seafood on a quality-first basis. Every single day, drivers are heading to Fulton Fish Market to pick up fish, shop the market, process it, store it, and deliver it across NJ and New York. This means hauling 500-pound bluefin tunas from Spain and cases of Orata from Greece—it’s a global operation. 

“It’s back-breaking work,” owner Nobu Yamanashi tells me. But, it’s something he wouldn’t do if he didn’t have immense respect for the ingredients. Nobu grew up around the business—his dad, Kingo Yamanashi, started Yama Seafood over 40 years ago, establishing the attention to detail in fish processing that would eventually mark it on the map. When Nobu began working for his father six years ago, he started chipping away at making Yama Seafood a known name in the food world. 

Yama Seafood

Nobu Yamanashi of Yama Seafood

This starts with the process. Yama Seafood is a Japanese-owned company and Nobu explains how Japanese culture plays a huge role in their operation. In Japan, sushi chefs and fishmongers hold a respect for their craft that sometimes seems nonexistent in the West. 

For example, someone in the States might receive a beautiful tuna from Spain, process it, throw it on ice and call it a day. Nobu is adamant: “That’s not enough,” he says. “You can’t just put it on ice—you have to stuff it. Changing it often. Other people just throw it on a pallet in the walk-in. We take it way further because we have respect for tuna. For the best quality, you have to keep it cold. Really cold.” 

Then, when the fish is ready to go out to a restaurant in the delivery zone, it arrives by truck that day. A fish can be swimming in the Mediterranean ocean on Tuesday and be on a plate at a Three-Michelin-Star restaurant by Thursday. This is the care that is necessary to produce the highest-quality fish and seafood. 

It’s also why some of the best chefs in the nation contact Yama Seafood for all things fish. Eric Ripert of Le Bernadin—often considered the greatest chef when it comes to seafood in the US—relies on Yama at his Three-Star restaurant in New York City, which has maintained its rating for 19 consecutive years, and is currently ranked 44th best restaurant in the world by The World’s 50 Best


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A post shared by Eric Ripert (@ericripert)

At 69 Leonard Street—a one-star omakase in NYC—Chef Shion Uino is able to source directly what he needs for his operation through Yama Seafood. This means that if he wants wild amberjack (kampachi), then Yama will source it for him. This client relationship is important, especially at sushi restaurants where the fish is the star of the show. It leaves room for adaptation with a product, but never with the quality. If a cut of fish isn’t up to quality one week, it can be replaced with something that is. Perhaps Yama Seafood has a unique product specifically for Shion. No matter the scenario, it’s always about quality first. 

We see this in New Jersey too. Chef Robbie Felice of pastaRAMEN sources sea urchin, AKA uni, from Yama Seafood for years. Uni isn’t terribly hard to source nowadays with options from Maine and Santa Barbara directly in the US, but Felice prefers Hokkaido uni over any domestic option. With Yama, he’s able to get fresh uni directly from Japan without ever compromising quality. 

Yama Seafood has another interesting factor that sets them apart from the rest: you can get this same seafood shipped directly to your doorstep. 


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A post shared by Chef Robbie Felice (@robbiefelice)

Direct To Consumer at Yama Seafood

It’s true, you can enjoy the same exact tuna that Eric Ripert uses in the kitchen at Le Bernadin, prepare the same fish that Shion Uino uses for his exclusive omakase and adorn noodles with the same uni that Robbie Felice employs at his uber-popular pastaRAMEN.

The beauty of Yama’s operation is that they are making imported seafood accessible to the masses. By using their online store, you can pick from a variety of imported fish, caviar, uni and more to be shipped directly to you. 

If you are within the delivery range of Yama, their team will hand-deliver your items to you. However, their shipping extends nationwide, utilizing UPS and dry-ice packing to maximize quality and control of their product.


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A post shared by Yama Seafood (@yamaseafood)

It’s hard to overstate how revolutionary something like this is. Gone are the days of needing connections to get imported fish. It used to be that if you wanted to enjoy the delicacy that is Japanese sea bream or Spanish Bluefin, that you had to either go to a Michelin-Star joint that sells it, or go straight to the source. 

But, now, you can do it right at home, and if you think it’s only for raw preparations, think again. “I want people to cook our fish too,” says Nobu. “It’s not just for sushi.” This is a fair assessment—high-quality fish isn’t just for eating raw and in fact, something like Bluefin Otoro or Coho Salmon are equally as delicious when cooked. 

“What I really want is for people to feel more comfortable around fish… handling fish,” Nobu tells me. “They may love it, but they didn’t grow up around it. That’s okay, you can learn.” Simply put, Nobu wants consumers to know that excellent seafood isn’t reserved for just the culinary big dogs—and the Yama catalog has plenty of great options to start with. Hamachi, salmon, arctic char, fluke and more are all affordable fish options that serve as both delicious ingredients and excellent starting points. So, whether you’re looking to perfect that crispy-skin arctic char you get at your favorite restaurant, or want to recreate a hamachi and citrus crudo you had way back when Yama Seafood is here to tell you that you can. 


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A post shared by Kevin Uznanski (@lord_cappuccino)

With a full page on their site dedicated to recipes, it’s easier than ever to learn to prepare and cook fish at home

Beyond fish and shellfish, there is a list of caviar to purchase, along with Japanese pantry staples like rice vinegar and wasabi. There’s also a dedicated section for meat—including the coveted Japanese A5 Wagyu, which can be purchased in a variety of ways.

Opening the Doors To the Masses

Yama Seafood has operated on a quality-first basis for over forty years out of Jersey City, NJ. In that time, they have become one of the East Coast’s biggest names in imported seafood. With Nobu Yamanashi at the forefront and a team of talented and hard-working individuals, Yama works tirelessly to bring not only the best seafood to the nation’s top restaurants but also the average consumer.

So, when I say that you can have Michelin-Star tuna at home, it’s not hyperbole—it’s the very real service that Yama Seafood looks to provide. 

About the Author/s

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Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for writing midway through school and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. In addition to food, Peter enjoys politics, music, sports and anything New Jersey.

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