Life in London: Fish & Chips


Hello. I'm Gill at engVid, and today's lesson is a little bit different because we are on

location outside a fish and chip shop, which is a very popular kind of place in the UK.

So, here we are in a street in London, about 7 miles from central London, and we are going

to be visiting this fish and chip shop here, this one. And so let me explain about fish

and chips. It's a very English tradition, and lots and lots of people like to eat fish

and chips, and there are a lot more fish and chip shops in the UK than there are McDonald's.

So, there are over 10,000 fish and chip shops compared with 1,200 McDonald's. About 80%

of the UK population eat fish and chips at least once a year, so... And some of them

eat fish and chips every week, so it's very, very popular. The idea is that the fish is

cooked at a very high temperature, and it's in a kind of covering called a batter. And

then chips, well, I'm sure you know what chips are, so they're potatoes cut into pieces and

also fried at a very high temperature. And fish and chips, apparently, are very good

for you because they contain protein, and fiber, and iron, and vitamins. So, if you're

in the UK or if you're planning to visit the UK, and if you haven't already visited a fish

and chip shop, then I can highly recommend them.

So, that's a little bit about fish and chips, the background. So, of course, there's a lot

of vocabulary associated with it, which we're about to find out because now we're going

to step inside the shop and meet the owner, and he's going to tell us a bit more about

fish and chips. So, let's go in.

Nice to see you.

How are you?

Fine, thank you. Thanks for letting us come in.

That's no problem. It's our pleasure.

And have a look at your fish and chip shop.

Thank you.

So, fish and chips are a great English tradition, aren't they?

Yeah, especially, you know, when you're in anywhere of England, you can't go wrong with

the fish and chips.


That's when people, you know, tourists, for example, especially, that's why they come

in to London.


You know, get a bit of everything they can within the UK.


Whether it's fried chicken or, I don't know, beans on toast, for example, as a traditional

English breakfast.


But we do our fish and chips in here.


And we...

And this shop's been very, it's very popular, isn't it?

It is in a shop.

I often see you have a lot of customers come in.


In a short amount of time, we've done pretty good.

I mean, like, this has been open since January 2016.


Till today.

Oh, wow.

You know, we've always had good feedback from our customers as well.

That's just over a year.

Yeah, just over a year.


And due to that reason, you know, the word goes around.


The more, the better we get, the more the customers obviously happy are.



And lots of people live in this area.


So they'll all notice, "Oh, a new fish and chip shop."


Our customers are based more regular customers, you know, locals in the neighbourhood.

So it's probably 80% of our customers are regulars.


20% will be the passing by customers.



But even, like I said, it's been just over a year.

We still have people that haven't noticed us yet.


We've still got neighbours that come in and...

Yes. know...


...ask us when we've been open.


And that's the first time.


Because I mentioned this shop to somebody the other day who I met up, just up the road...


...who lives locally.

And I said, "The new fish and chip shop."

And he didn't know.


He didn't know about it.

So he said, "Oh, good.

I'm going to try that because it must be better than the one he's been using already."


We try to separate ourselves from the locals.

I mean, we've got over probably three, four local fish and chippies around.



But we try to, obviously, make ourselves stand out with the products we sell...


...and, obviously, our concept of the shop.


I was going to say that the decor, like this, for example, and the wood finish here...


...and this sort of railway style, it's a sort of old-fashioned...

It's just the British rail..., isn't it?'s, you know, to get a glimpse of, you know, back 30, 40 years back of...


...time, so it's, you know, from '60s, 1960s-plus, '70s, so we tried to put a bit of everything

into it...

Yeah. it looks more retro.


And, obviously, it's called Vintage Fish, so we had to try...




That was our whole concept.

And, obviously, it's a word that means something old...


...but valuable.

It's a good name...

Very good. use.


And, also, the old style, sort of 1960s, when we used to have a transport system called

British Rail, which then got broken up, and it was the nationalised transport system,

which it's not nationalised anymore.

So, this kind of sign was a station sign at one time.

So, it's nice.

I like that.

You must have had that sign made special...

Yeah, they've... British Rail style.


It was customised by us.


Very good.

Most of our stuff are customised by us in the shop.



Because, I mean, I love the wooden, you know, the wooden finish here.


And, also, the top piece.

We had to burn all these woods before we put them together.

You burned those?


We had to burn them, varnish them, polish them.

So, it's got this kind of effect to it.

It's got a stark effect on it, because you can see the lots...

It needs to look old, as well, due to, again, our concept.


So, we didn't want it to look so brand new.


So, we had to wear it out a bit before we put it on there.


You didn't just want to...

No, no.

We didn't want...


I mean, like, it's obviously new material that we use, but we try to wear it out as much

as we can.

Yes, but you made it look...

And, also, I noticed now you've got an old-fashioned telephone here.



When we first...

That's the old style with the dial.


With the dial that goes like that.


We have, you know, press-button phones nowadays.

So, does that make sense?




So, we have an old-fashioned telephone here with the dial that goes like that.


We have, you know, press-button phones nowadays.

So, does that make sense?








The old-fashioned telephone.

The old-fashioned telephone, really?

Everyone comes to play around with it?


Someone would tell their kid or their grandchildren about their memories when they had that phone

in their house.


I mean I remember...

We've still got an old phone like this at home.


But like I said, it still works.

It's slightly older than that, but, so, you can dial out anything.

Oh, yeah, yeah.


It works.

It works.

That's the original meaning of the word "dial."

for the fingers for anyone is too young to remember that's that's a dial

telephone so that's amazing okay

TV which is our main attraction in our shop. It's near the window and people see it as they walk past. It's one of the first things I noticed.

So you've got a sort of retro program on there haven't you?

We've got some old music, old jazzy, retro music style.

In black and white, black and white television.

On a weekend we do have a lot of wait, not a lot but it's like at least 10-15 minutes waiting time because you know in the space of half an hour we can get 10-15 orders in one go.

So we try to leave a lot of space so people can freely move around.

And also I think you cook each order individually.

Individually and we cook on order.

So you don't have sort of rows of fish ready to pack. You do them freshly for each customer which is nice.

On a weekend we've always got fishing coming out whether it's a pod or a habit because it's always consistent.

We're always selling on the weekend.

But other than that if someone was to walk in we'll cook it on order and we explain why because we try to keep our standards high.

Our food, it needs to be quality. Our price isn't the lowest around.

But keeping in mind that we get our fish from Billingsgate market.

It comes in every day in the morning and we do go for the freshest and the best quality fish which is Peterhead.

It comes from Scotland and it is the nearest to us so it's the freshest one we can get our hands on.

Because you don't have to travel from let's say I don't know Norway or elsewhere from another harbour.

So it comes straight to Billingsgate from Scotland, Peterhead, straight to Billingsgate.

There's obviously independent organisations in there. They deliver it to us every morning.

So you have a set order for each day?

Yeah, every day we'll have a set order.

And obviously every day that does mean we are limited because we don't keep any frozen fish in stock.

So when we finish our fresh fish then unfortunately we've got no other fresh fish to sell for that day.

But luckily it's not always the case. It's only on a Saturday which we can because Saturday is our last day.

Due to Billingsgate market being closed over the weekend on Sunday and Monday.

We also closed because again we can't get our hands on any fresh fish and we strictly are against frozen.

So we closed for the two days. Everyone's happy that way because we are comfortable serving our food as well.

As it is fresh, we know nothing's going to be wrong with it. It's perfect. Cooked on order. Everything's right.

That's good. And for anyone who's not heard of Billingsgate, it is the main fish market, very big fish market in London.

Which is very famous and it's been there for a long time.

And it's near the river, isn't it?

Yeah, it's based in East London.

Benary Wharf. Yes, because at one time all the boats brought the fish in up the river.

So it was there in East London, very near the river.

The logical place for the fish to be all put together in a market to sell to people.

So that's Billingsgate, very famous.

OK, so maybe we could have a look at the menu.

So the whitebait, that sounds interesting. Can you tell us what whitebait is?

Whitebaits are very small fishes. I don't know how to describe them exactly, but they come coated in breadcrumbs.

And we fry them in the oil. They come as a starter, so it's not a really big portion.

So they're tiny. They're sort of sized, I think.

These are our whitebaits.

Oh, that's one whitebait. Oh, it's bigger. I've seen smaller whitebaits.

But they change. The portions, the sizes do change depending on the age of the fish, I'm guessing.

But yeah, we sell those in portions, just as a starter.

Right. OK.

All of our starters, again, come with lemon, tartar sauce, cherry tomato, with a bed of salad to top them on top.

Lovely. OK. And what else?

Our main seller with our starters would be the hand-cut calamari and our panko-coated prawns.

They're both covered in panko coats, again, deep-fried.

It's really tricky cooking them, because we keep our oil to, like, 150, 160 degrees when we're cooking those two specifically.

So they're nice, puffy, not so, obviously, crunchy.

Because when you do them in a higher temperature of oil, they can be really crispy and dry.

So, again, with our starters, customers do have to wait an extra, let's say, five minutes,

so we get the oils under control and serve it to them as best as possible.

And what is panko? I've not heard of it before.

Panko is a Japanese type of coating. It's breadcrumbs, again.

It's slightly thicker, larger. It's not exactly fine and little, you know, it's not like a dust or anything.

They're more chunky. It's more crispy once they're cooked, compared to the breaded prawns.

Okay. And then the sort of standard on the main menu, the standard, they're white fish, right?

Yeah, yeah, white. Mainly white.

We've got a larger one in place of a sort of white flaky fish.

And the fish, then, when you fry it, it's in this thing called a batter.


So what is the batter?

The batter, our batter is basic. It's made of flour, egg, you know, plenty of ingredients.

How we look at the batter, in our point of view, we try to make sure that when we put a fish in,

it's completely covered in batter and there's not one little hole that's open.

But when there is a hole within the batter, that fish will suck in the oil.

So we don't want that to happen.

But what we do is, I don't want to give you the whole information with the way we batter our fish,

because that is kind of a chef's secret.

And especially with our one, we're still working on our one to make it better,

so every day we can come up with something upgraded to the day we had before.

But the only thing I can tell you about our fish, I can show you, if you want, how we put our fish in.

Yeah, brilliant.

So there, there was a fish with batter on it.

And there's some chips, lovely.

Oh, it smells nice.

Pity we can't get smells coming through on our videos.

Our chips are really nice, chunky ones.

They're not those thin sort of French fries.

They're cut quite thickly, which I think is really nice.

With our chips, we try to use the chunkiest plate we have for our chipper machine,

because the chunkier it is, the better the chips is.

You know that it's potato.

Unlike fries, I'm not saying fries are bad,

but when it comes to fish and chips, you want big, chunky chips.

So we also customised our machines for that.

We changed the plates around so they're slightly thicker than normal.

And when it comes to throwing our fish in, our secret is to leave no gaps within the batter.

So what we do is first, we dip the fish into batter and then scrape it all down.

When we scrape it all down, we know that the excess batter is off,

and we know that because of the breading we use underneath the batter to coat the fish,

it holds on to all the batter.

And we dip it in again.

Everything's all covered. The fish is completely covered.

So we'll just take off most of the batter,

because obviously fish and chips is preferred with thin batter, lightly battered.

The thicker the batter is, the more oil it will suck in.

And when you take it out and put it on your plate, the more oil it would leave out of it.

So we try our best not to, and then we just dip it into the oil.

Again, the less the batter, the better the fish is.

And how long does it take in the oil for these?

It will take seven to eight minutes at least.

It depends on the portion of the fish as well.

Some can be thicker, which can take more than ten minutes.

But again, we try to keep it, when we portion it, we don't want it to be so thick.

Because the more longer it stays in there, the more the coating, the batter will get burnt.

And we try to avoid that.

So the thinner the fish is, well, not thinner, but we try to keep it to a standard portion.

So it fits the time that the customers would like to wait as well.

Because sometimes, years ago, I seem to remember when someone put the fish in the oil,

it was sort of sizzling, making a loud sizzling sound.

That's when there's a lot of it in.

That seems quiet.

Because there's only one fish in there, nothing else is in there.

Usually, yeah, when you put two fish, plus chips.

I didn't put any chips in there, so it's not going to sizzle.

But I'll still throw that in there for you now.

Oh, nice.

On a Friday, we can't hear each other talking because of that sizzling noise.

Wow, I didn't hear that sizzling.

Like I said, we can't hear ourselves talking once we've got all this noise going on.

I see that now. There's such a bubbling effect going on.

And again, we try to keep the shop as clean and fresh as possible,

so we do tend to keep our lids down.

But there's an extraction system within the machine.

It takes off all the smoke and the oil smell, which obviously leaves us with a better environment.


But I can obviously keep it open right now.

Yeah, just to show us the sizzling.

So the word "sizzle" is one of those words that imitates the sound "sizzle".

"Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle, sizzle" is the sound of something frying.


So, that looks lovely.



Lovely. OK.

And then, let's see, so you have other things like pies.


We do sell pies.

Our menu is more fish-based.

We don't have a wide option, so we do obviously keep the classic fish and chip shop menu in place,

with the pies and the sausages, which we do sell as well.

But we're more popular for our fish.


I mean, like, our personal record, I think, on the weekend was 160-plus orders.


But that's not fish, that's just the orders.

Just pies.

So the number of customers that we serve.

And keep in mind, because it's a local area, our orders aren't just one fish and chips.

It's usually, like, five fish, I don't know, three chips.


So we do serve a lot of fish compared to our other items, like pies.

There's someone coming in to get an order to take home, and there might be several people at home.

Yeah, yeah. It's always the case. It's usually the case.

That is always the case around here. But, yeah, we do.

We've got chicken burgers, we've got veggie burgers.

We've got pies that we also serve for people that prefer not to eat fish all the time.

Other than that, we've got sausages.

And the rest, other than those, are basically all fish-based.

We try to keep it only fish, so we can concentrate on how to serve the fish as best as possible.

There are some fish and chip shops which do, for example, fried chicken or even kebabs at some points,

which, again, we don't support to be honest.

No, no.

We think, if you want to do one type of food, then stick to it.

Try not to get every other food involved in it.

You want to specialise.

Yeah, we specialise in fish, so we stick to fish.

Yeah, that sounds great. Lovely.

And then there are things that, a sort of very traditional vegetable that goes with fish and chips is the mushy peas.

Yes, we've got mushy peas. Again, you can't go wrong with fish and chips and mushy peas.

That's definitely another bestseller that we have in here, actually.

And it is just peas, but mushy.

So they're not individual, self-contained little peas.

Yeah. You do have little bits in them.

They're in a sort of mushy...


Yeah, it's more boiled.

Probably half of them are mushy and half of them are whole, but they are mixed.

So you've still got bits of peas in there as well, plus the mushy side of it too.


And on the side of that, we also have curry sauce.

Curry sauce is our own recipe, so again, I can't give you a lot of information about the curry sauce,

but curry sauce is also another traditional thing with fish and chips.

Our one's our own recipe, so we do sell a lot of curry sauce as well.

When we first opened, we were just handing them out, give it a try, and it worked out well.

Everyone did like it.

So is it a mild curry or a hot curry?

No, it's a mild curry.

A mild curry.

Yeah, it wouldn't be hot.

Okay, Salim. So I think we would like to order some fish, wouldn't we?


So can you recommend anything to us?

I would, again, it's going to be a bit of a classic, but I would give you a cod.


Due to, again, it being Peterhead, one of the freshest cods around you can find.

Okay, cod, yes.

Again, they came in today, so I'll put you a cod on.

I'll put you some starters as well.


Just to top it up.

Oh, now, somebody who's with us here wanted some fish cake.

No problem.

Fish cake.

I thought you said you wanted fish cake.

No, I thought you said you wanted fish cake.

Oh, I see what you mean.

Fish cakes are salmon and broccoli fish cake.

I did have a very nice fish cake.

And it was a salmon and potato in fish cake.

Salmon and broccoli.

Salmon and broccoli.

Salmon, broccoli, cheese and dill.

Oh, wow.

Covered in breadcrumbs as well.

In breadcrumbs, which is very, very tasty.

So we're looking at cod in batter and the fish cake.

I'll put you some of our Maris Piper chips.

And some lovely Maris Piper chips.

That would be lovely.

And there are three of us, so just enough for three.

I can do you all separate portions.

No problem.

Well, whatever you think.

Leave it to me.

So we were talking about the shop.

Now, we're here in South East London.


But you were telling me earlier about another vintage fish

that you're opening in South West London.

Yeah, so what we've done is here, we're on the skirts of Blackheath,

more towards Leigh, in South East London,

which is our base, basically, because it's the first one.

Now, it's been about a week now.

We've just got one in Wimbledon.

That's not exactly changed yet.

It's a running shop at the moment,

but hopefully towards the summer it's going to be closed,

refurbished through A to Z,

and it will be open again as Vintage Fish.

And that's on Lelpard Road in Wimbledon.

This is the place where they play the tennis.

Wimbledon is the famous tennis area.

Yeah, and it is close to the tennis courts as well, actually.

It's not even a mile from there,

so it's another really nice location.

Really good location.

You get lots of customers,

especially during the Wimbledon season.

Hopefully, yeah.

That's one bonus we'll get from there.

Yeah, wow.

Well, that's marvellous.

So that's really exciting.

I wish you all the best with that.

Thank you.

And then I understand that in the UK

there is an annual competition

for the best fish and chip shop

in the whole of the country.

So maybe one day,

do you think you might go in for that competition?


That's what we're working on as well.

Once the Wimbledon's open,

that would be a more seafood-based restaurant

as well as fish and chips.

So once that's open,

the next concentration would be on the fish and chips awards.

Wow, so that would be very exciting.

So, well, Salim and also Jason and Lily,

thank you very much for letting us come

into your fish and chip shop

and to hear all about your work.

And so thank you very much.

Thank you.

And wishing you all the very best in the future.

Thank you, Gill.

And thank you.

And see you again very, very soon.

And we're looking forward to our orders as well.

I'll get your orders on the way as well.

I'm feeling really hungry after all this talk about food.

So thank you.


Thank you.

Thank you.

And goodbye.

Goodbye. Have a nice day.

Thank you.