Fish and chips is a dish synonymous with British cuisine, particularly with the addition of the mushy peas, which is not necessarily my favourite component of the lot. Oddly enough, my most striking memory of the perfect fish and chips came 14 years back from Down Under in Fremantle, Western Australia. Not so odd I suppose, considering it was previously a British colony located by the coast with access to some brilliant seafood. My memory is a bit faded, but I do recall the perfectly crisp batter enveloping the fresh fish fillet, which somehow had a ton a flavour. I’ve had a few in London, which were good, but perhaps not as mind blowing as what I was expecting.
Finally, I’m back in Perth visiting my best mates, and it certainly feels good to breathe again after being engulfed by the haze in Malaysia. I’m also ecstatic that I’m finally revisiting Fremantle, which had etched a deep food memory in my core with that amazing fish and chips. And yeah, doesn’t hurt that the Little Creatures brewery was also just a few doors down from the fish and chip shops. Can’t beat sunshine and booze!
According to my mate, the three paragons of Fish and Chips excellence in Fremantle would probably be the Cicerello’s, Kaili’s, or their personal favourite, Sweet Lips. After gorging upon a brilliant brunch at Ootong & Lincoln’s plus some Korean fried chicken at the market soon after, we definitely had to opt for a more “strategic” approach. Thus, we embarked upon our first fish and chips “crawl” and had a tasting from all three establishments.
First on the list was Cicerello’s, which had been around since 1903. We chose the the fresh premium fish and chips, which was tad pricier than the traditional version albeit using fresher fish. And heck, it was well worth it! The batter was thin and crisp, whilst the fish was amazingly fresh with a firm bite to it. The chips alongside it were also well fried. Generally, each component was well seasoned and executed perfectly. Absolutely brilliant, and definitely up to snuff compared to the best of them.
Coming from a high, we moved on to Kaili’s down the road. We opted for the traditional fish and chips, and the dish was served surprisingly quick and within a mere few minutes. The batter was crisp, but the fish was obviously frozen before and lacking in flavour. The chips were also forgettable and inching towards to the soggy side. All and all, not very good.
For the finale, we went to our mate’s favourite, Sweet Lips. We had chosen the Whiting fish and chips, which was actually pretty good albeit the batter was perhaps a tad overdone. Not quite comparable to Cicerello’s, but definitely leagues ahead of Kaili’s.
Cicerello’s was hands down the best of the lot, and would be the one that I’ll return to whenever I’m back in Perth. Was it as good as my original food memory? Probably, yes. That said, I reckon I’m merely scratching the surface of what constitutes as the perfect Fish and Chips, and there may be less commercialized versions at a hole in a wall somewhere that might just blow my mind away. Anything is possible I suppose, and that’s the beauty of food. There’s always someone else out there attempting to elevate these dishes to the next level.