September 5, 2014
Roppongi Gets Its Batter Up
A taste of Britain in the heart of Tokyo
By Mike Kanert
Missing out on crispy batter, thick chips and mushy peas? Look no further than Malins Original British Fish & Chips, located an easy stumble from Roppongi’s Tokyo Midtown. While not necessarily the first time fish and chips have graced Japan’s shores, Malins is the first to be certified by the National Federation of Fish Fryers (NFFF), a century-old British fish and chips trade association.
Indeed, Malins is not a nihon-grown institution but an export straight from the U.K.—as made immediately evident by the Scottish brogue of the shop’s ebullient chief chef, Phillip Raeside, who arrives in Roppongi straight off 12 years at a shop in Kilmarnock, Scotland (that’s in East Ayrshire just southwest of Glasgow, for the geographically curious).
The decor references the more southern bits of the British Isles, however, with shots of the Thames and Camden Town adorning the bright walls, while Malins’ NFFF certificate occupies a place of honor on the gleaming wraparound countertop—right next to the napkins and ketchup and within reach of a jar of pickled eggs (display only, sadly).
While much of the shop is British, the fish is all sourced right here. The menu offers three main set options, starting with an ample helping of finger cod with fresh, thick chips and appropriately mushy peas at ¥1,242. And if you’re feeling really peckish, you can challenge yourself to a gut-busting hunk of cod with the usual sides for ¥1,620 after tax.
The batter is light and airy with just the right amount of crunch, and the small set offers the option to exchange fish cake, pie or battered sausage for the finger cod—and if that’s still not enough choice for you, you can just go à la carte. Steak, chicken and vegetable pies are promised in the future, but Raeside says they’re still wrangling with customs regulations.
That hasn’t kept the British beer from flowing, however, and bottles of standards such as Fuller’s, Bass and Samuel Smith lager, stout and pale ale can all be found at the till for ¥648-702 each. The Sarson’s Malt Vinegar is also imported, and while tartar sauce isn’t put in your hands as a matter of course, it’s readily available upon request.
Malins is open 22 hours a day, from 11am to 9am. While the focus is on take-out, there are eight seats available on-site as well. With the chatty staff speaking plenty of English, it’s a good spot to start the night or cap it off—or just swing by for lunch anytime you’re in the area, and they’ll make you feel right at home.
1F Powerhouse Roppongi Bldg, 7-12-3 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Roppongi. www.malins.jp