Jolly-Good Fish and Chips
Cheerio, Ono readers! In the past few days, we’ve had a full-blown British invasion here at Dining Out. One of the greatest comfort foods of all time has made its way across the pond and into our tummies, and as Austin Powers would put it, it’s groovy baby, yeah!
That’s right, mates, the British are coming and they’re bringing fish and chips with ’em. Representing the epitome of what deep-fried fare can offer, these battered bits of white fish accompanied by thick potato wedges, or chips, as they’re called in the U.K., show that English food — contrary to popular belief — actually can be amazingly tasty.
I admit I am a tad biased in this department, seeing as my mom is from swinging London and I have a soft spot in my heart for all things British. To me, this classic really puts the “comfort” in comfort food, because I remember my mum telling me stories about making day trips to the seaside town of Brighton with her friends just to have some fish and chips, served the traditional way wrapped in newspaper.
I’ve adored the dish ever since, but I’ve found that even those who don’t have a sentimental attachment to fish and chips fall in love with them just the same, as their goodness lies in the simple satisfaction they bring to all who taste them.
So, with The Beatles cued up, let’s come together right now, over this jolly-good feast.
MAC 24/7 Bar and Restaurant
Winston Churchill once referred to fish and chips as “the good companions,” perfectly describing the sheer warmth we receive on the inside from eating the foods we love most. MAC 24/7 Bar and Restaurant makes the most of this concept, offering an entire menu of gourmet comfort foods to suit every craving.
A little more than a year ago, the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel eatery decided to bring Fresh Island Fish and Chips ($19) to its menu of heartwarming fare. “As we were throwing out ideas around the room (for the menu) with all the chefs and managers, fish and chips just continually came up. We even had a lot of our guests asking specifically for fish and chips. It was kind of a no brainer between the fresh fish selection that we do get here, Chef’s secret recipe on the beer batter itself and its good, hefty portion — you’re definitely not still hungry after eating our fish and chips,” says director of restaurants Mark Nelsen.
The dish instantly became a top-seller, as executive chef James Aptakin uses fresh local catches — usually mahi mahi or opah — as the star ingredient. He also has a secret recipe for that wonderfully crisp and flaky batter, which I can divulge features Kona Longboard Lager.
In addition to thick-cut steak fries, I love this entree’s traditional touch of malt vinegar served in modern, fun pipettes so you can customize your vinegar action. And unique additions of Asian-inspired coleslaw and lively key lime tarter sauce top it off.
Nelsen says this creation goes well with MAC 24/7’s happy hour drink specials (available 2-5 p.m. daily and midnight-3 a.m. excluding Fridays and Saturdays), and he reminds patrons to check out the eatery’s brand new menu items.
MAC 24/7 Bar and Restaurant
Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel
2500 Kuhio Ave.
Fish and chips isn’t a dish offered on countless menus here in the Islands, so when I do find it, I have to snatch it up right away. In the spirit of this U.K.-themed dish, I set out for my next bite — cruising down Kalakaua Avenue with the windows down, Rod Stewart blasting from the stereo — en route to Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener at Royal Hawaiian Center.
This high-quality steak house is a go-to spot for celebrating special occasions with truly exquisite meals, but lesser known is the fact that it’s also a great place to pop into midday for $12.95 lunch specials. In addition to a fresh Mahi Mahi Sandwich, 1/2 pound Black Angus Sirloin Burger and Tropical Chopped Salad, Wolfgang’s offers Mahi Mahi Fish and Chips on the affordable specials menu, which is available from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day.
Executive chef Diego Pacuruco was inspired to add the dish to the menu, knowing that locals and tourists alike love to enjoy Hawaii’s abundance of mahi mahi. “We only serve fresh mahi mahi fillet — never frozen — for better quality and taste, and we pair it with our delicious, meaty steak fries,” explains general manager Bill Nickerson.
Giving an extra bit of crunch to the entree, the fillet is prepared with a light house-made tempura batter that’s coated with panko crumbs. After setting in the refrigerator, the fresh fish is deep-fried until golden brown.
Blimey, you just can’t beat these takes on fish and chips!
Royal Hawaiian Center
2301 Kalakaua Ave.