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Food & Drinks

Best fish and chips in Hong Kong: we cast a wide net over the city in search of a good catch

While some popular chippies have unplugged their fryers in recent years, there are still a number of batter specialists around the city who are frying up a storm for hungry Hongkongers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 December, 2017, 7:48am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 December, 2017, 8:39pm

For the record, fish and chips isn’t Britain’s favourite dish. In one survey, Chinese food came out on top, followed by Indian, and then pizza. Nevertheless, the dish still holds a special spot in the hearts of many Britons.

In the former colony of Hong Kong, the stodgy staple has always been a fixture on the menu of British-style pubs and restaurants. Traditional fish and chip shops, also known as chippies, however, are rarer, and have come and gone over the years.

Throughout most of the 1990s, British institution Harry Ramsden’s operated a large fish and chip restaurant, and adjoining takeaway, in Wan Chai. In a sign of how times have changed, the location is now occupied by McLaren and Rolls-Royce luxury car showrooms. Another old favourite was The Chippy in Central, but it pulled the plug on its fryers about six years ago.

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Still, 20 years after the city’s return to China, there are still a handful of specialist fish and chip shops in Hong Kong – most of them located beside the seaside – and they are largely run by Chinese.

So what’s the criteria for a good fish and chip dish? Judges in Britain look for firm, flaky and succulent fish, coated in crispy batter that’s not too greasy. The chips should be well cooked, and soft inside, with a crispy exterior.

We searched the city to find the best catch.

Chip In

One of two chippies in Sai Kung, Chip In is primarily a takeaway, but has up to half a dozen small fold-up tables and chairs on the street. The decor evokes a British seaside town.

Inside, was a satisfying fillet of succulent, fresh tasting Atlantic cod (certified as sustainable).
Mark Sharp

Since this taste test required eating fish and chips five times in a single week, the best option was the small portion (HK$48; large portion HK$75).

The dish was served in a sturdy paper tray with a wooden fork. The bronze-coloured batter was satisfyingly crunchy, but tasted too greasy. Inside, though, was a fillet of succulent, fresh tasting Atlantic cod (certified as sustainable).

It came with a decent portion of thick-cut chips, but they were on the dry side and not very flavourful. They would have been livened up with a sauce such as curry, tartare or ketchup (HK$5 each). Besides, what’s not to like about chips drowned in malt vinegar?

Other classic chippy items on the menu include fish butty (English for fish sandwich) and chips, bacon butty and chips, and sausage butty and chips (all HK$48). Sides include calamari (HK$38), hash browns (HK$20) and mushy peas (HK$15), and the house speciality for HK$20 – Hong Kong’s only deep-fried Oreo (or so they advertise).

9 King Man Street, Sai Kung, tel: 9761 5091

Camden Town

This London-themed place is decorated with wall-sized posters of red double-decker buses. It has the perfect location on Sai Kung’s waterfront, among a string of traditional Chinese seafood restaurants. Looking out at the leisure junks and fishing boats moored in the water, you can almost hear seagulls cawing.

The golden batter was thin and light, and not at all oily.
Mark Sharp

There is plenty of casual seating both inside and outside on the large patio, though it’s still packed on weekends, when staff can get a bit harried.

Today’s choice was the “normal” fish and chips, costing HK$80 (large, HK$120), and a side dish of mushy peas (HK$15). Two generously sized chunky pieces of fish were served on a bed of chips with tasty tartare sauce served on the side. There are bottles of malt vinegar and ketchup on each table.

The fish fillets, although large and thick, lacked texture and were a bit mushy. The golden batter was thin and light, and not at all oily. The long chips were well cooked and tasty – slightly crispy outside and soft inside.

The menu at Camden Town also includes basic burgers and pasta dishes.

49 Hoi Pong Street, Sai Kung, tel: 9279 3839

White Beard

Located in a kiosk on the ground floor of Pier 7 in Central, White Beard sees a lot of potential foot traffic from passengers heading for the Star Ferry. Seating is just a few small shared tables, and stools next to the railings topped with narrow, wobbly platforms marked, “unstable”. But you can always take away and sit on the concrete steps that face the harbour.

The fish was perfectly flaky and flavourful, coated in the tangy, well-seasoned batter that pulled easily away from the tender fillet.
Mark Sharp

There are a few meal choices here, with “signature fish and chips” – New Zealand hoki fillets – starting at HK$68. However, the lemon pepper fish and chips, for HK$75, sounded irresistible.

The dish is served in a sturdy paper box and comes with a wedge of lemon and a choice of one of six dips, including mayo, honey mustard and sweet chilli.

The fish was perfectly flaky and flavourful, coated in the tangy, well-seasoned batter that pulled easily away from the tender fillet. The batter was soft on the inside but the lemon and pepper ensured it didn’t taste floury.

Among the side items are mushy peas, calamari rings and onion rings. The most intriguing extras, however, are mushroom popcorn for HK$10, and mozzarella sticks for HK$15.

Pier 7, Central Piers, tel: 2386 0022

Hooked

This small takeaway in Mid-Levels has seating available in the adjoining “Fish Market”. What it lacks in space, it makes up for with a diverse à la carte menu.

The chips were crispy on the outside but soft and fluffy inside. The potatoes had not been peeled so the skin gave added flavour to the chips.
Mark Sharp

The fish – hoki and blue cod – are imported from New Zealand. Chips are ordered separately by the scoop or half scoop, and options include kumara (sweet potato) chips and spicy wedges. There are five flavoured salt choices, including garlic, Cajun and lemon pepper. Other menu items include a range of quality meat pies and an extensive list of shellfish options.

The cod (HK$75) is breadcrumbed, so we went for battered hoki (HK$55) and a half scoop of chips (HK$15), which is reasonably priced for the neighbourhood. The moist hoki fillet had a rich taste, compared with regular white fish, and came in a smooth, even coating of batter that peeled away easily from the fish and was still a little sticky on the inside.

The chips were crispy on the outside but soft and fluffy inside. The potatoes had not been peeled so the skin gave added flavour to the chips.

Hooked is well worth a return visit to try the breaded scampi or steak and kidney pie, among other tempting choices.

Caine Mansion, 80-88 Caine Road, Mid-Levels, tel: 2915 1118

A post shared by Fish & Chick (@fishandchick) on Sep 20, 2017 at 10:35pm PDT

Fish & Chick

This venue is in great location on the Kennedy Town waterfront with a sea breeze blowing in through the open-fronted restaurant. The interior is unpretentious, with boxes of beer stacked up against one wall, rough and ready tables and chairs, and panel seating along the length of another wall. Wooden handled knives and forks on the tables come in old food tins.

The batter – sprinkled with sea salt – was well cooked and crispy, and just greasy enough.
Mark Sharp

Fish & Chick, as its name suggests, also serves chicken dishes. Whole and half roast chickens are available, as are wings.

Still, it has the widest choice of fish among the places visited, though the prices screamed “gentrification”. Of the nine fish varieties on the menu, four are from Hong Kong – flounder, sea bream, sea bass and barramundi; the latter two are the cheapest, at HK$130.

Sticking to the script, we went for Icelandic haddock and chips (HK$140) with a side of mushy peas (HK$25). A decent sized meal arrived with pots of ketchup and tartare, and a wedge of lemon.

The batter – sprinkled with sea salt – was well cooked and crispy, and just greasy enough, with tasty, flaky haddock inside. The chips also hit the spot – crispy and fluffy. The mushy peas, although a substantial portion, were a bit thick and stodgy. It was an enjoyable meal until I ended up with a mouthful of fish scales at the tail end of the fillet.

Other fishy menu items include fish fingers, calamari, and smoked salmon, among the salads.

It’s a great location with decent, yet, pricey servings. The fish scales are forgivable: we’ll assume we were just unlucky.

25 New Praya Kennedy Town, Kennedy Town, tel: 2974 0088

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Where else?

Mr Chipper

Next door to “modern European” restaurant Bathers, and operated by the same group, this outlet has the perfect location right on the beach. Only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

34 Lower Cheung Sha Village, Lantau Island, tel: 2504 4788

Chips Republic Cafe

Although the emphasis is on the chips, this Tsim Sha Tsui shop has two choices of fish and chip meals on the menu.

Unit 2132, The Grand Cinema Elements Mall, 1 Austin Rd W, West Kowloon, tel: 2581 1887

Fish & Chick Plus

This sister outlet of Kennedy Town’s Fish & Chick is located in a mall in East Kowloon and serves similar dishes but at more reasonable prices.

Shop 302, One Pacific Centre, 414 Kwun Tong Road, Kwun Tong, tel: 2970 0003