I’m eating Fish and Chips in London, wooo hooo!

Whoaaa! Horaaah! Fish and chips! Hooot! In London! Weeeeee! Land of The Fish and Chips! Yaaay!



Ok I’m done with my hallucinations. I’m still right here, sweating it out in Dubai. That street photo up there is just the wallpaper of a restaurant I walked over to the other day. This is what life has come to, living off of wallpapered vacation spots. I had started planning to go on vacation back in June. It’s been an evolving process since then…San Fran! Beirut! Paris! Ho Chim Minh! and here I am, I’ve procrastinated away most of summer, giving the odd recommendation or two to someone planning a trip to Istanbul or watching with green eyes as friends board the plane to Spain or trying to finagle sightseeing detours out of a work/wedding prep trip to Delhi. HOW HARD IS IT TO PLAN A VACATION?! …hard. help me someone, plan my dream trip for me…sniffle

On a happier note, one thing I was totally on the ball for was the trek to find this plate of fish and chips at a new joint in Dubai: Salt and Vinegar…

…right across the road. That’s probably as far as I’m getting this summer. [self-inflicted crabby frown].

All credit to the parents who spotted the new place crop up as they did their daily neighborhood survey from our balcony. It took a mere two mentions of “you should go try the place and tell us if it’s any good” for me to drag my little foodie cousin across and stare up at their fancy LED menu screens. Less than a week after they’d opened.

Now I’m no fish and chips conoisseur. Never been to London, else I’d have done right by the holy Fish and Chips grail. The two benchmarks I can dredge up are (a) a childhood fish and chips place in Jumeirah, which in my pink girly eyes served up the most awesomest crispy fish and chips ever. Sad that I have no real recollection of what it tasted like, but it MUST have been awesome; and (b) more recently, Rivington Grill’s fish and chips that I noshed on at Taste of Dubai. Which I also loved. Oh actually there’s a vague flashback to (c), a plate of fish and chips at some fair during my time in the US. I can’t be sure, but I think I scarfed it down too. So that makes for a dubious 2.5ish out of 3. Either I’ve got lucky with my less than a handful of fish and chip experiences, or I’ve got super low standards for soft white flaky stuff covered in deep fried batter.

Salt and Vinegar’s cod shoves my score up higher. The battered deep-fried crust on the cod had ballooned up a tad bit away from the flesh, something that only a light, airy and crunchy crust can do. Too greasy, and it’d be glued slimely against the fish. Under-fried, and it’d be anti-climactically chewy and disappointing. But this crust felt pretty on-target to me.

The cod itself was super tender, flaking at the touch. I forked through the flesh exactly how the Sweet Mother of Seafood intended for it to be eaten, under a waterfall of sour tart malt vinegary goodness. If you get tempted to use the restaurant’s dainty spray-bottles of “light malt vinegar,” skip it. Unless you want to be sitting there all night trying to make every smithereen of your cod sponge up the air-borne liquid molecules emanating from that delicate vinegar spray head.

Oh and kudos to Salt and Vinegar for hitting the spot with their tartar sauce –  mayo, bucket loads of vinegar and tons of salt, it really amped up every chunk of cod flesh that it was plopped on.

But stepping back from the cod, it was heart-breaking to see my fish martyred in…styrofoam. Ack. Where’s the newspaper guys?? I whined about this to the parents, who sagely told me off with concerns of lead poisoning. True that. BUT. But…styrofoam is so clinical, SO uninspiring! Answer me people, and answer like a true artist, would you rather be uninspired or DIE?  [whazzat?…you’re not an artist you say?…oh, just here for the cod? right. of course…no. I’m not applying to be your baby sitter anytime soon.]

Of the three sides, the only one that made the cut was the creamy well-seasoned mashed potatoes. The other two are not landing up on my table ever again: disappointingly unremarkable thick fries and gravy; and gritty tasteless mushy peas (can these ever taste good, anywhere, even in London?). I’m so sad that a fish and CHIPS place has not got their chips right, I want to cry. Or take a treacherous bag of Lays in with me next time.

If you haven’t had enough deep-fried goodness by this point, and even if you have, you’ve got to get a bite of this: The Deep-fried Mars Bar. I feel all macho just saying it. See them biceps? see them biceps? see? see? see them…belly folds. Yeah whatever. It’s worth it.

O Ye Crunchy shards of deep-fried batter shattering to reveal your chocolatey caramely gooey insides, I’m a new person now that you’ve moved in next door to me.

hey you with the mocking eyes! yes, YOU. wipe that ewww this is deeesgusting…you need serious detox woman look offa yer face. Trust me, don’t hate it ’til you’ve tried it.

Salt & Vinegar is definitely making my list of take-out places, but only cause it’s right across the street [soggy motorbike-travelled fish and chips anyone?], only cause that crunchy jacketed cod has won over my heart, only cause I’d chuck the styrofoam and redress it up in a pile of newspaper, only cause I’d ditch the fries and pop open my store-bought bag of salty crisps. Only cause I need some deep-fried fuel as I start planning out my summer vacation for next year.

Salt & Vinegar
Al Rigga Road, steps from the Al Rigga metro stop, right next to Automatic Restaurant
Deira, Dubai

Author: InaFryingPan

With a family legacy of ingenious cooks, a nutritionist and chef-extraordinaire mother, and a father who introduced me to steak and caviar when I could barely reach the table, I had no choice but to acquire a keen awareness of food during my childhood years in Dubai. But it was only after I found myself on a college campus in Philadelphia – far away from home, too cheap as a student to spend on anything other than pizza, and with dorm rooms that had little rat-holes of kitchens if they even had them at all – when I developed a heightened appreciation of food. An appreciation of food that I once ate every night at the dinner table in Dubai, but that was now an entire ocean away. I lusted for the culinary treasures that lay outside the stale walls of my college dining hall, hijacked friends’ kitchens to try my hand at something, anything , remotely edible, and greedily raided different websites in search of highly-rated restaurants. With my move to New York to work for a consulting firm that secretly harbored self-professed foodies, my appreciation transformed into a passion, an addicition. I felt like everyone around me in New York was talking about food: where to get the best cupcakes, pizza slices, banh mi, kati rolls, pho, fried chicken, and every other food item out there that is just a plain old dish in some part of the world, but that’s become hyped to unforeseen proportions in New York. What fuelled my addiction over time was travel to different cities, both for work and play, which gave me unfettered access to the culinary havens of not only New York, but also of DC, Virginia, Chicago, Houston, Vegas, Austin, Seattle and even a little city called Bentonville (Arkansas!). After 9 years away from home, I’ve finally taken the leap to come back to Dubai – with not just an awareness, but genuine appreciation and passionate addiction for what I’d taken for granted as a child. Mom, I’m back to reclaim my seat at your dinner table, and to rediscover this city with its ever-expanding menu of international flavors.

15 thoughts on “I’m eating Fish and Chips in London, wooo hooo!

  1. saleem says:

    Not a fish eater – guess will try deep fried fish with you next time you go and if I don’t like, then you can have it all.

  2. accordingtodina says:

    Ohhh…. I wanna go there wid u!!!!!:D Looks lush!

  3. ninu says:

    hmmm im always a bit skeptical of these fish and chip places.. the hubs raved abt this lil emarati joint in jumeirah called…and wait for this..FISH AND CHIPS…yeah … fish and chips.. sure they serve fish and chips but they are quintessentially an emarati food joint with like all of 4 tables. anyway so he went there and raved abt the fish and chips and got some parcelled.. what the heck was ithinking. sad sad sad. but then again i had fresh fish and chips in london ( yes the real london ) and i dint like those either so hmm… and funnily enough the other day i came over to deira to visit a friend bang opposite that salt and vinegar place and i rememeber staring at it and thinking hey its a mind the gap sign!! they either sell something fishy or they sell shawarma. =D
    Anyhoooo i went to erics !! Like thrice… =D he he.. and if u havent already tried it you MUST MUST MUST try their warm plum cake with vanilla ice cream AND cream AND chocolate sauce AND nuts. i had it all 3 times. and it hit the spot every single time.

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @saleem – that’s the spirit dad, gotta taste it once – especially if you have the luxury of a walking, talking trash can right next to you to gobble up leftovers :D

      @accordingtodina – our list of things to do together gets longer and longer lady! gotta start checking things off.

      @ninu – I wonder if that Emarati place was the same one I would gone to growing up…not surprising that you hated parcelled fish and chips. Only word for them – SOGGGGAAY. You’ve gotta eat them in the restaurant itself, no two ways about it, unless you’re steps away from the place like I am ;)

      Oh and glad you’ve joined the Eric’s Fan Crew – you know, I’m ashamed to admit I was so stuffed up on apps and fish that I totally missed staying around for dessert. Plum cake sounds exactly like mah kinda thang. We should do a Dubai Foodies Raid Eric’s thing soon, what say?

    2. InaFryingPan says:

      @calvinslogic – you heard right my man, food raid to be planned! I will post about it on the I Live in a Frying Pan facebook page once we’ve planned it!

  4. Farwin says:

    gotta try this place,my husband will be thrilled as he’s big fan of them..lovely write up…

  5. DaddyBird says:

    Not really possible to get good mushy peas around here, because one can’t get good peas to begin with. All the peas I find here are hard and flavorless, no matter what you do with them. The best one can do is get some imported canned peas, which at least aren’t hard as rocks. :-/

  6. DaddyBird says:

    …and chip are supposed to be thick! Those thin little french fries that get passed off as "chips" aren’t the real deal! :-)

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Farwin – do try and let me know what you think, my ability to rate a fish and chips place has already come under serious scrutiny by Dubai Fish & Chips Heavyweights since this post ;)

      @DaddyBird – why talk of the devil, a Dubai Fish & Chips Heavyweight himself! ;) Good to know there’s no hope for mushy peas, but then WHY ON EARTH don’t people slam it off their menus?! I tried saving this one with salt and vinegar and whatever else I could find…but once a tasteless mushy pea, always a tasteless mushy pea.

      And yes, I’m aware that my allusion to Lays thin crisps is pretty blasphemous, but frankly, no fish deserves to be martyred for thick uninteresting anti-crunchy fries. If there’s a Fish & Chips Committee out there in some dark alley of London, and I’m pretty positive there is, they should rethink tradition and give a dead fish the salted crispy ridged respect that it truly deserves.

      @Miss Stovetop – Precisely, said it once and I will say it again, don’t be a hater till you’ve been an eater. :)

  7. R-86 says:

    I have been looking for a website that also reviews all the restaurants that are on THIS side of the creek for AGES! All these magazines that claim to be reviewing ALL restaurants in Dubai really do not even know what lies beyond the Trade Centre! So thanks! I too live in your neck of the woods and saw this place and have wanting to try it for a few weeks now. I am SO going to give this a try!

    And LOL at them having a deep fried mars bar. I saw them making it on BBC Entertainment and my family and I tried to make it but failed…LOL!

  8. FooDiva says:

    Oh shame Arva, Dubai desperately needs a good casual fish and chips joint. I had some excellent wolf fish in Iceland last week – deep fried in spelt and barley – with chips of course :)

  9. ninu says:

    ok i am so on board for the foodies raid Erics bit except… im 37 weeks preggy and just about good to go anytime now.. lol ! =)

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @R-86 – oh I’m sooo flattered! Thanks for making my ego the size of a watermelon with that lovely comment! There’s so much goodness in Deira, and I have not even covered 0.01% of it! Till I conquer the food scene in our area, you go get yourself a deep-fried mars bar and tune back in for some more down to earth cheap eats. Can’t go back to the real thing once you’ve sinned the deep-fried way ;)

      @FooDiva – deep-fried in spelt and barley?? Woman, you talk exotica, and it’s making me hungraaaaay.

      @ninu – oh 37 weeks preggers is the perfect time for a food raid, need some mega-eaters at the table. And if the pop happens first, well, you should still come and chow down with us anyway, a new mommy needs to be well-fed! ;)

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