There aren’t many things I miss about the UK, but the one that trumps them all (yes, over friends, family and Magnum ice-creams) is fish and chips. However, apart from the recently closed Chippy (which wasn’t that much cop anyway… but hey, any port in a storm), there was nowhere in Hong Kong dedicated to my much-missed favourite meal. Enter Seasalt!
A small diner on Mosque Street in the Mid-Levels, Seasalt offers Aussie-style fish and chips, with some equally delicious other seafood options too. The experience is a whole lot more gourmet than the chippies of my youth – I’m not quite sure what my local would make of calamari on the menu instead of kebabs, and the clean, light and airy décor (with a lovely open-front facing into the Mid-Levels neighbourhood) is as far removed from a greasy spoon as you can get.
Co-owner Dave Chaput wanted to create a cooler, more modern take on fish and chips – and having played around with the concept, visited chippies around the world, and tested recipes for many years, Seasalt is the result! Of course, the first thing I had to try was the beer-battered cod and chips… could this really quell my chippie cravings?!
In fact, I was overjoyed just to find cod on the menu at all as it can be difficult to find in Hong Kong; Seasalt’s fillets are flown in directly from wherever is freshest and best at the time (currently Iceland), though red snapper and barramundi are also available (not haddock, sadly!). The batter, so difficult to perfect, was great – light, crispy and not too greasy. Although the fish itself lacked flavour on its own, once topped with a splash of malt vinegar, a sprinkling of salt and a dollop of Seasalt’s creamy tartare sauce or wasabi mayo, it hit the spot! Meanwhile, the chips are definitely more on the fries side (chippie sacrilege!) but hey, golden on the outside, fluffy on the inside and incredibly moreish with some garlic aioli… who’s complaining?!
However, I was most surprised by how much I enjoyed Seasalt’s other offerings. The grilled calamari was outstanding – light, fresh and sautéed perfectly in a Japanese-style tataki sauce (a zingy mix of soy, ginger and citrus). Similarly, the grilled prawns were also wonderful; rubbery, tasteless prawns abound in Hong Kong but these, lightly sautéed in garlic butter with a slight char to the outside, were delicious. I’d recommend ordering these with salad for a much lighter meal than the other side options of fries or rice!
I’m used to popcorn shrimp meaning tiny nuggets of indeterminate dry meat buried somewhere in a mass of heavy breadcrumb, but Seasalt’s version is something faaar superior. With a mere dusting of batter-y goodness, these were light, most definitely still identifiable as prawns, but still with just enough of that all-important crunch. Giving them a quick dunk in the dangerously moreish soy ginger was a match made in seafood heaven. Much less of a guilty pleasure than your average popcorn shrimp… and far tastier too!
Whilst the grilled haloumi and potato cakes were rather too heavy for my already battered-up internal organs, Dave had saved the best ‘til last – his brand spanking new fish tacos (which are currently only available on Wednesdays and Thursdays). These were all-out AMAZING… whisper it, they might even be the best in Hong Kong. It’s all about Dave’s spectacular secret sauces and salsa – they completely set the dish alight and will ensure that just the one taco is nowhere near enough! As five of Team Sassy noshed down on these, the table descended into total silence, with a few “mmmmm”s along the way. Managing to shut the Sassy girls up for five minutes? Now that’s the best compliment I can give!
Price-wise, fish and chips will set you back $120, whilst Seasalt also does some very reasonable lunchtime sets – and you can get 10% off takeaway orders too. I loved the lightness of touch that went into all of Seasalt’s dishes – pretty difficult to achieve when we’re talking about deep-frying! Although it’s still not quite comparable to my much-missed UK fish and chips, Seasalt has definitely filled my craving in style.
Seasalt 23 Mosque Street, Mid-level, Hong Kong
2790 7211 www.seasalt.com.hk