You could say that seafood is in our blood. For four generations our family has been farming fish, operating aquaculture-related business, and importing/exporting seafood from around the world. And because our business is our family’s pride, providing the highest quality seafood possible is our biggest priority.
This belief in quality is nothing new for us — we were born and raised to know what makes the best fish, starting from the farm and ending on the table. Three generations ago our grandfather started a farm in our native country of Taiwan, where he raised tilapia and carp just a few minutes from the sea. The farm was later passed down to our father, who eventually went on to become the Director of the Taiwanese Fisheries Council. He invented a new way of farming striped bass, which doubled the annual crop production. Our father also worked with Dr. Liu, a pioneer in new methods of Black Tiger prawn farming. Black Tiger prawns are a common crustacean on Asian plates that hadn’t been farmed in Taiwan before Dr. Liu and our father took up the task. In fact, that when dignitaries like the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands came to visit Taiwan, government officials would bring them by our father’s farm to show them his design. Thanks to our father, Taiwan was the first country to commercially grow Black Tiger prawns, an endeavor that has now moved into Thailand and Vietnam as well.
After growing up near the farm, the next generation of our family moved to the US and brought our knowledge with us. In 1979, our sister Hsihua received a scholarship to teach at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She found the menus at restaurants in Madison often included potato, beef, and quite a bit of cheese — but no fresh fish! Hsihua quickly learned that the seafood industry in the US had much room to grow. So, after obtaining her MBA, she decided to start a family seafood company. The Black Tiger Company was formed, named in honor of our father’s love of the prawns.
The Black Tiger Company got its start by exporting mullet roe from the Gulf of Mexico and Florida to Asia. The business quickly grew from a small distributorship also selling Tilapia to one providing all sorts of seafood for cruise lines and Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos. Our second brother Bruce Yang, who is an expert in growing fish roe, eventually joined the company as well. Bruce brought his seafood knowledge, which set a high quality standard for our operation. Later our youngest brother Peter, who was studying business in London, came to join Black Tiger. Eventually, Peter and our brother Bruce decided they didn’t just want to sell seafood, they wanted to cook it too. And that’s when Mahzu was born.
Mahzu Aberdeen was opened in 1999. The reputation of Mahzu Aberdeen, with our fresh sushi and healthy Japanese cuisine soon prompted the opening of a second Mahzu — Mahzu Freehold. The business success in Mahzu Freehold created long lines during weekend and so our third Mahzu was opened in East Windsor with 300 seats including hibachi, a sushi bar, and a sit-down dining room. Today the Mahzu operation is made up of all three restaurants and Blue Venture, a new seafood importing company that we use to bring in fresh fish and Japanese products to our own restaurants as well as for cruise lines and national distributors.
Now our children are getting into with the business as well. Our generations of expertise in seafood allows us to deliver the highest quality food to our customers. When our sister Hsihua first came to the US she says she could never understand why more people didn’t like to eat fish. But once she realized it was the quality of the fish that was putting people off, she knew exactly how to change that. “They would love it if they had grown up like us eating all the good fish and shrimp from my father’s farm. They would know how delicious it is,” she says. And that’s the goal here at Mahzu — to use our family’s knowledge to choose the best pieces of fish possible and show everyone just how wonderful seafood can be.