Indulge in a Two-Piece Basket of Deep Fried Happiness
For this Chowhound, nothing tastes better than some flaky, deep fried cod topped with creamy and cool tartar sauce and paired with crunchy fries or tender deep fried chunks of zucchini. If you’re looking for a place to have this and more, then trot over to Mr. Fish & Chips to satisfy your craving. Owner Sam Chou is usually sitting at the counter and greets every customer like an old friend. Located in the Balboa Mesa shopping center (near Vons), Mr. Fish & Chips has been around since 1969. Originally, the restaurant was located to the side of Vons and moved in 1998 to its current location when Vons expanded. Following a year and a half closure in 2013 after sustaining fire damage from a neighboring business, Mr. Fish & Chips is back serving seafood-craving Clairemont residents.
On a recent weekday, I stepped in to Mr. Fish & Chips for a little deep fried happiness. I ordered the one-piece fried fish with a side of deep fried zucchini ($4.95) with a soda. What I like about Mr. Fish & Chips is the light, crunchy batter—almost like a tempura batter—blanketing super fresh and flaky cod. Somehow, this batter magically adheres to the fish and other items without falling off. The pieces of fish are always big and satisfying, and my lunch did not disappoint. Paired with tartar sauce or malt vinegar and you have a winning combination. The zucchini were also crunchy with a soft and slightly sweet finish of the tender zucchini. The usual way to eat the fried zucchini is with ranch dressing, but I prefer plenty of salt and the tartar sauce because it’s just that good. Other menu items include fried shrimp, oysters and scallops, chicken strips, sandwiches and salads. A limited selection of lunch specials is also available from 11-3.
As I sat and enjoyed my lunch, I was amazed to see the steady flow of customers of all ages and types come in. Every table was full including the outside patio that greets you as you enter. One customer who has since moved away from San Diego made a special trip to Mr. Fish because she was just visiting in the neighborhood. “I love this place and you just can’t find anything like this where I live,” she said.
When I asked owner Sam the secret to Mr. Fish & Chips long-term success, he was quick to say, “the quality of the fish and the batter, combined with the timing of the order. “ Despite my prodding, he wouldn’t divulge any other restaurant secrets or recipes. “Some things have to be secret,” he said with a smile on his face. According to Sam, the most popular item by a long shot is the 2-piece fish and chips item. “This accounts for probably 80% of the orders we get,” he says. For the sake of research (wink), I went back and ordered the two-piece fish and zucchini ($7.90) later that night.
While it might not be the healthiest thing to eat every night, once in a while, it’s a good thing to throw caution to the wind and indulge in some deep-fried happiness. It’s good for the soul.
Mister Fish & Chips is open 11am-8:30pm Monday thru Thursday and 11am-9pm Friday and Saturday. Closed on Sunday.
Mister Fish & Chips
5647 Balboa Avenue
San Diego, CA 92111
All photos by Michael Baehr
Michael Baehr is known as the San Diego Chowhound. He is an accomplished home cook, food blogger, cooking demonstrator and self proclaimed foodie. He also loves to sample and write about new eateries, local restaurants, fast food and specialty markets. You can follow his food journey at www.SDChowhound.com