After England inexplicably chucked it all away against Les bleus the other night I was looking for more than just comforting words. I needed food from home and only Britain’s fat, stodgey, lard-laden best would do. I needed Fish ‘n’ Chips. I found it in the Irish Pub – Sheridan’s Irish House – at 17/13 Le Thanh Ton Street in District 1. Sheridan’s menu is a boon for resident and transient lard-arsed Anglo-saxons. There’s a Dublin Fry-up (Eggs, bacon, potatoes, tomato, beans, sausages and fried bread) for 80,000VD, a Farmer’s Omelette (Potato, bacon and onions) for 55,000VD and then there’s Fish ‘n’ Chips. Britain’s national dish and a perennial fixture in pieman’s all time tucker top ten.
The beer battered Fish ‘n’ Chips – actually French Fries, not real chunky Brit-chips – comes with coleslaw, tartare sauce, lemon slices and mushy peas. The fish comes in separate bites not the ‘official’ one fillet version. The batter is solid and quite thick. It’s got a decent crunch to it, but lacks any distinctive taste. Fish and batter are the deciding factors when making quality Fish ‘n’ Chips and each should be bought and made with reverential care and attention. Sheridan’s fish wasn’t fresh on this visit.
As with every ‘beer-battered’ fish I’ve ever had, there’s not a sniff of hops in the mix. I’ve tried making beer battered fish myself and I’m convinced it’s impossible to retain any beer essence in the aftermath of a deep fat fryer fish funeral. Better just drink the stuff. The coleslaw is a mayo-heavy mess, but the Mushy peas are a ‘triffic score in Brit-food-free Vietnam even if they aren’t ‘chip shop style’. As for the ‘chips’, they had been cooked earlier and re-heated…. Oh dear… that’s just plain lazy. The tartare sauce was bland and lacked bite. However, the vital salt and vinegar accompaniments are on tap as are HP Sauce and Heinz Tomato Ketchup.
After that slaggin’ you might think I hated it – I didn’t. This is good comfort food in an atmospheric, homely, traditional pub setting. It’s a reasonably faithful rendition, just not a brilliant one. When it comes to your national dish you’ve gotta have some standards and this is just average. It wouldn’t cut it on the streets of Britain, but at 85,000VD it costs the same as a small town England chippy. A pint of Amber draught is 50,000VD. The Vietnam Brewery started brewing Amber, Vietnam’s first and only Irish Stout style beer, in 2003. There’s less of a hoppish bitter bite to a pint of Amber than any of its Irish relatives. It’s worth a snort, but it’s not a patch on the dark beer at the Hoavien Brauhaus. View the business card.
In other news…
‘OBAN FISH AND CHIP RESTAURANT’ IS THE COD’S BOLLOCKS
Photo nicked from The Oban Times
Via the power of google juice, there’s mild elation in the air at pieman towers today. I discovered to my delight that Rick Stein, my favourite BBC TV Chef of late, agrees with me here that a little known chippy on the west coast of Scotland serves the world’s finest Fish ‘n’ Chips.
Unfortunately, Oban isn’t always convenient for a day trip from Saigon. The two-storey Sheridan’s will have to do for comfort nosh following any further calamitous England appearances at Euro 2004. Fish ‘n’ Chips can also be found at Al Fresco’s and The Underground. I haven’t tried them yet, perhaps I should. Any top tips for a decent expat fill, belch them into the comment box.