Standing inside Ocean City Seafood Market, it’s possible to forget you live in a desert.
“Our specialty is live seafood,” Hellen Chong explained as she pointed to the freshwater tanks at the front of the Salt Lake City store, 872 S. State St.
Live crabs, clams and lobsters are shipped from Maryland, Canada, Asia or “wherever we can find it fresh,” said Chong, who owns and operates the store with her sister, Karen Chong.
It’s their second store — the siblings opened the original 2,000-square-foot Ocean City Seafood Market at 1839 W. 3500 South, West Valley City, about eight years ago. At 9,000 square feet, the new Salt Lake City store is significantly larger, said Hellen Chong, who drives between the two stores — and the airport for live seafood — several times each day.
At Ocean City, customers also will find freshly cleaned whole fish with heads still attached. On a recent morning, lying in the long ice beds, were red snapper, pompano, grouper, striped bass, catfish and mackerel.
Fish also fill an entire aisle in the frozen food section. Among other items are parrot fish, rabbit fish, cuttlefish, scad, smelts, scallops, snow crab claws, razor clams, squid rings and salted herring. Shrimp also takes up a major portion of the case, available in all variations: shrimp with heads, shrimp without heads, raw shrimp, cooked shrimp, white shrimp, peeled shrimp.
In addition to the seafood, Ocean City is a full-service ethnic market carrying imported ingredients from China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and India.
Each country has its own aisle, “so it’s easy for our customers to find what they’re looking for,” said Chong. Whether you’re seeking wonton wrappers, green curry paste, fish sauce, vermicelli noodles or tapioca pearls, Ocean City likely has it.
The market also has butcher case with fresh meats and a produce section with many tropical fruits and vegetables — think dragon fruit, bitter melon and rambutan — not found at a typical grocery store.
Eventually, the Chong sisters hope to open a kitchen inside the store where they can serve Asian specialties such as barbecue duck.
Until then, their markets bring landlocked Utahns a little bit closer to the ocean.
Ocean City Seafood Market
Sisters Hellen and Karen Chong have opened their second ethnic market that specializes in live seafood.
Where • 872 S. State St., Salt Lake City; and 1839 W. 3500 South, West Valley City.
Hours • Every day, including Sundays, from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.