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submitted by Good Living on 23.08.2006

John & Manuel Notaras.

Fresh start in a sea world.

Two brothers have something fishy, whether it’s fresh or cooked, to suit all tastes.

Good Living, August 15th, 2006, page 4.

The Notaras family has been in fish shops since Jim Notaras came to Sydney from Rockhampton, setting up in Dee Why 35 years ago. Since then he has run shops at Avalon, Mona Vale, Brookvale’s Warringah Mall and Belrose. The last venture really belonged to his sons, John and Manuel, but Jim couldn’t keep away. After all, says John, it’s not easy to find a good filleter willing to work casual hours and early mornings. His dad’s craggy face cracks into a big smile.

Manuel, 38, and John, 37, sold the Belrose shop and have been in their present premises, a former chicken shop in Dee Why, for nearly five months. The fresh fish component is small, but John travels to the Sydney Fish Market almost every day from his home in Stanmore and buys a box of seafood (on the weekends, it’s more) — but never buys if it’s too pricey. On a recent day when john dory was too expensive, instead there were flathead from Newcastle, gemfish from Bermagui, pacific oysters from Coffin Bay and sand whiting from South Australia.

Manuel and John know the provenance of everything in their counter, from the calamari and the snapper to the blue eye and the lemon sole. They don’t sell imported basa fillets or vannamei prawns and they won’t sell the tuna or salmon as sashimi grade unless they think it is.

That’s why one of their customers shops there three times a week. Other loyal customers have followed them from Belrose
and new ones are still discovering them. A woman asks for half a dozen whole bream. She warns them she’ll let them know if she is not happy. John jokes that if you complain once, that’s the best way to get remembered.

Fresh fish is only 40 per cent of their business, though John believes he is still winning the confidence of customers and getting them to try new things.

The cooked side is Manuel’s baby His recipe for success is fresh fish, clean oil and a light batter. Irene, their mother, makes io salads, including one with brown rice, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and onions.

She also makes a knockout rice pudding from her mother’s recipe and Greek white sauce for the mornay oysters (there are also seafood mornay shells and oysters kilpatrick). Last fashionable in the ‘70s, the mornay oysters are so good that it might be time for a revival.

Good Living is a news supplement which accompanies the Sydney-Morning-Herald newspaper, in Sydney, Australia

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