The World’s Best Caviar
China is producing some of the most delicious fish eggs available
Kaluga Queen produces its caviar about 300 miles southwest of Shanghai.
“The biggest obstacle is the low trust of Chinese food safety,” says Lily Liu, marketing manager for parent company Hangzhou Qiandaohu Xunlong Sci-tech Co.
And yet after the 1st tin was shipped in Y 2006, Kaluga Queen began to build a distinguished fan base. Now the caviar of choice for 21 of the 26 Michelin 3-starred restaurants in Paris, including Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée Hotel.
Seafood specialist Eric Ripert serves it at Le Bernardin in New York. Lufthansa offers it in 1st-class cabins.
But because most consumers still associate Chinese brands with inexpensive knockoffs, the provenance of Kaluga Queen caviar is rarely mentioned.
Alexandre Petrossian, vice president of the namesake caviar purveyor, sells Kaluga Queen-sourced products at the company’s boutiques worldwide but does not label the caviar as Chinese on its tins, where 30 grams can average $150.
“Chinese caviar was very hard to sell for the 1st 3 years,” he says. “It was difficult to convince people that it was not a cheap product. There is cheap Chinese caviar, but what we carry is one of the best on the market.”
Russia and Iran have long dominated the caviar export market, harvesting the delectable eggs from beluga sturgeon in the Caspian Sea.
Overfishing there eventually landed them on the endangered species list, and as supply shrank, other nations, including Japan, Israel, and China, have started to fill the space.
“Exports of Chinese caviar will boom because of sanctions and limited supplies from Iran and Russia,” Rein says. “Many restaurateurs will buy Chinese caviar because of good quality, reasonable price, and ample stock.”
Kaluga Queen turns out 60 tons of caviar per year, making it the largest producer in the world, according to the company.
It sells 5 kinds, but Petrossian’s best-seller is Huso Hybrid ($210 for 30g), which comes from a hybrid of Kaluga and Amur sturgeon.
The fish are raised in the Zhejiang province of China, where the Huangshan Mountains supply the man-made Qiandao Lake with fresh, cold water.
Each sturgeon has an identification number, and each tin has a code, which customers can use to trace the fish’s color as well as the results of its regular physicals.
Petrossian notes that his company takes multiple quality-control trips each year: “We check the water, the fish. Anything that we get from China we make especially certain that it conforms to our standards.”
At a tasting, the Huso Hybrid caviar proved exquisite. The large gray eggs have a softly saline taste and a terrific pop.
The list of Top chefs buying Kaluga Queen continues to grow.
Have a terrific weekend