Dueling Dishes: Fish and Chips
You can get fish and chips just about anywhere. Pubs that also pour Guinness. Restaurants that also serve everything else. Jack in the Box. Today we will focus on the fast-food and food court variety. We pit the product produced by The Chippy, an Irvine food court denizen, against that from Farmer Boys, a local chain I used to frequent exclusively for their fish and chips.
First let's talk about price. Farmer Boys sells a fish and chip meal consisting of three large pieces of fish and a mess of fries for $6.09. At The Chippy, a similar portioned meal of three fish and fries retails for $9.79. The Chippy includes a bottomless fountain drink for the price.
But before you balk at the almost $4 cost difference, Farmer Boys' fish and chips, in this taste test, was almost inedible. I was actually quite surprised how much it has slipped precipitously from what I remembered their fish and chips to be years ago. Rather than conclude that it has always been this disappointing, I will, for now, attribute it to an off night.
There is no denying its failure, though. The batter, which has always been heavy and mealy, was especially leaden this time. Where it wasn't uncooked and clumped like raw paste in parts, it was overdone, taking on a dark, almost burnt color instead of golden brown. Worse, the predominant flavor was of rancid, bitter fryer grease. And on the fish, there were bald spots left uncovered. The flesh of the pollock used was greyish in places, and often so mushy it's hard to tell the fish apart from the uncooked batter stuck to it.
The fries, of a thickness just slightly heartier than shoestring, became limp inordinately fast.
This is all in contrast with The Chippy's product, which is just as good now as the first time I had it. The batter is pristine, uniformly covering every inch of fish and fried to become an airtight cocoon of crunch. The batter's golden color glows, the crispiness is consistent and the flavor, delicate as tempura. Breach the crust and the fish inside flakes in supple white chunks.
And The Chippy's chips? Well they're standard, garden variety fries--a filler more than anything else. But they still maintained their integrity much longer than Farmer Boys'.
The clear winner this week: The Chippy.The Chippy, 2222 Michelson Dr., Ste. 216, Irvine, (949) 833-2322.