I've been spending some time in the Old Country this summer – and I haven't been skimping on the pub grub. And, yes, among plenty of other good things, I've put away my share of fish and chips.
Too often this "icon" of British cooking can be disappointingly limp, or even worse. But not this one, served at a favourite pub in the West Country. The fish, a lovely piece of haddock shipped straight from the port in Cornwall, is cooked in a nice crisp ale batter. The chips are fat and satisfying, just as they should be: golden on the outside, moist and tender inside.
Even after all these years, there's nowhere serving anything quite like this in Tokyo. But who cares? We have our own alternatives – and they're just as tasty…
Fresh-caught young aji (horse mackerel), lightly deep-fried and served with proper chips (rather than the ubiquitous skinny-cut French fries), and downed with a fine local ale.
This is how they do it at the Mokichi Craft Beer bar down in Fujisawa, just an hour or so south of Tokyo.
The fish, aji, is a speciality of the Shonan coast of Kanagawa, here served with a light sprinkling of salt and aromatic ao-nori seaweed.
Better yet, there is a range of excellent craft beers to go with it – none more so than this nice, hoppy pale ale, perhaps my favourite of the brews produced by the Shonan Beer company (aka Kumazawa Shuzo).
The Kumazawa folks now have three outlets where you can sample their their fine offerings, of which the Fujisawa pub (above) is the newest and smallest.
Best of the lot is the brewery itself, about 20 kms inland from Chigasaki. Still a working (and now thriving) sake producer, the original warehouses have been beautifully converted into two restaurants. On one side of the grounds is Mokichi Trattoria, also with a wood-fired pizza oven. On the other, is a Japanese restaurant – called Tensei, after the brandname of the sake produced by Kumazawa.
I gave it a detailed write-up several years ago in my Japan Times column, here.
And I'll be posting a few more of my recent UK eating exploits over on my other blog, here…