Who doesn’t love a portion of fish and chips every now and then?
When they are perfectly cooked they are one of the most heavenly things you could eat – but there’s nothing worse than finding yourself with an underwhelming meal.
Now two chippies from Wales have been named among the UK’s top 20 fish and chip shops.
Hiks in Swansea and Hooked@31 in Fishguard are shortlisted for the UK’s Fish and Chip Shop of the Year in the 2020 National Fish Chip Awards – and when you think how many chippies there are throughout the country, that’s a huge honour to receive.
So do they actually deserve to be on the coveted list? We had the tough task of finding out…
Where: 189 Llangyfelach Rd, Brynhyfryd, Swansea SA5 9LE
Reviewer: Karen Price
Order: Cod and chips (large) – £7.60; corned beef pie, chips and mushy peas – £5.80; ice cream sundae – £3.50; apple crumble with custard – £3.50
Every time you’re after tips on where to get decent fish and chips in Swansea, one name keeps cropping up – Hiks.
So after it was shortlisted for the 2020 National Fish and Chip Awards it felt like there was no better excuse to find out for myself whether this restaurant and takeaway in Brynhyfryd is really worth its salt (and vinegar).
Open seven days a week, we decided to treat ourselves to a chippy tea in the restaurant on a Saturday night. While there were many empty tables, the queue for takeaways almost stretched out of the door so that was a good sign as far as we were concerned.
The cosy restaurant has dark wooden tables with low lighting, brick-effect walls and the menus, cutlery and condiments are in neat little boxes on the tables.
There are TV screens dotted around flashing up photos of the meals available which made our tummies rumble even more and we discovered that Hiks serves far more than just good old-fashioned fish and chips.
Breakfasts are available daily until 4pm (11.30am on Sundays), you can build your own burger, enjoy homemade meals like hickory chicken and Cajun chicken and there are even traditional roasts served on a Sunday from noon to 4pm with a choice of beef, turkey and chicken.
But there was one dish I just had to try – the cod and chips.
You place your order at the counter (in a separate queue from the takeaways, thankfully) and then your meals are delivered to your table.
I ordered a large portion of cod and chips so that my partner could sample some and he went for the homemade corned beef pie meal.
We had to wait a little while for the food but we didn’t mind as it meant that it arrived piping hot and fresh, with the cod being cooked to order.
A slice of lemon on top of the cod would have improved presentation and added to the flavour but, to be honest, this plate was top notch. Often when you order cod it’s all batter and no fish, but this had a thin golden crispy coating filled with juicy flakes of fish.
The chips were perfection. Thicker cut, they were very lightly golden on the outside and inside the potato was fluffy. There wasn’t an ounce of grease on the plate either.
The corned beef pie had a light layer of pastry and was filled with meat. The mushy peas were the perfect accompaniment and there was a generous covering of thick gravy. Once again, the chips were winners.
While the meals filled us up, we couldn’t resist dessert and opted for the apple crumble and custard (a golden, sweet, crunchy crumble and plenty of apple with moreish custard) and strawberry sundae, which had plenty of strawberry sauce running through the creamy ice cream, topped with squirty cream, crisp wafer and chocolate flake.
Overall, this was a decent meal but it really is the fish and chips that are the jewel in the crown – and the reason why Hiks deserves its latest accolade.
Where: 31 West St, Fishguard SA65 9AL
Reviewer: Laura Clements
Order: Cod and chips – £6.80; mushy peas – £1; two scoops of icecream – £3.95
I visited Hooked @31 on a Saturday lunchtime, the last weekend of the summer holidays, and a typically Welsh blustery late-summer day.
A sense of calm pervaded through Fishguard, as though the whole town had breathed a sigh of relief now that most of the summer tourists had gone back.
Yet, at Hooked @31, there was a buzz of activity. A constant stream of people were arriving with expectant faces and leaving clutching brown cardboard boxes, while all around a faint aroma of frying fish and vinegar got my belly rumbling.
I had high hopes – I’d heard the rumours on the fish and chip grapevine over the years, that this unassuming chippy in was churning out the best cod and chips in Pembrokeshire. I had just never ventured so far north to get my fix, instead heading south to Tenby or Saundersfoot with all the other tourists.
But the secret is out now and I know the rumours are true – this incredible chip shop has it all and was well worth the hour-round trip.
The trouble with Hooked@31 is that after eating from here, I am fearful that all other fish and chip shops will merely disappoint.
At Hooked, they are proud of sourcing local. Locally-caught fish is landed from the sparkling blue sea visible from the shop doorway and Pembrokeshire potatoes are delivered just hours after being plucked from the soil.
The names of the fishing boats and farms are chalked up daily, just so you know. With such fresh produce available, it is inevitable that the end product will be a cut-above.
My cod and chips were handed to me in an environmentally- friendly cardboard box, a healthy-sized portion that I intended to eat sat overlooking Fishguard Harbour. A wedge of lemon was balanced on top, and my side order of mushy peas nestled in the corner in a separate carton. A quick dash of salt and vinegar, and I was ready to devour.
Sustainability is a key part of what Hooked do – from the boxes to the wooden forks, everything is recyclable. I flipped the lid and the waft of fish got my mouth watering.
Hooked’s signature light tempura-style batter, a deep golden colour, gave way to reveal a soft and chunky cod fillet. The flesh was a bright translucent white which yielded easily into thick flakes. It tasted as fresh as it looked.
Onto the big fat chips -there is nothing worse than floppy flaccid chips that are lukewarm at best. Fear not though! At Hooked, the chips redefine what a good chip should be – piping hot, light, crisp and fluffy within. They really were perfection. Lightly salted and vinegared, interchanged with a forkful of mushy peas, my cod and chips made for a stunning plate (box) of food.
There are also weekly specials available, from crispy fried brie, to makerel goujons and even a scallop and bacon kebab.
Service was calm and efficient and I got a real sense of pride from the team behind the counter. They really care about your fish and chips.
They also make their own ice cream on the premises, which is quite literally the “icing on the cake”. I was already feeling nicely plump, but who was I to turn down the opportunity for the summer feature flavour of Kinder Bueno? I strolled back to the shop for two scoops of their ice cream, which was deliciously creamy and indulgent – the perfect end to a perfect meal.
Top tip if you are a local doing a home takeaway run, take a cool bag so you can pick up a tub of ice cream because you will surely regret not doing so! Now the summer is nearly over, it will soon be time to look forward to Hooked@31’s Christmas Cake ice cream I was told. I am already anticipating a second visit.
All in all, it’s not really that surprising the Hooked@31 team have been shortlisted for the 2020 National Fish Chips Awards – I for one am definitely hooked.