The Sailors Fish & Chips (CLOSED)

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33 Yongkang Lu

This venue has closed.

Following Yongkang Lu's cleanup, the outlet is now closed but you can visit the branch over at Jing An.

A smart chippy on Shanghai's busiest destination food and drink streets The Sailors comes from 25-year-old former financier turned tyro restaurateur Sean Xue and chef Sun Zhongtao, who pay homage to the classic British seaside staple with classic fish and chips.

Originally from Xinjiang province, Xue told us he returned home from a year in Melbourne and, while researching business opportunities, found a gap in the market for a proper Shanghai chip shop. Six months of research later, Xue, who’s never been to the UK, said he perfected his batter recipe based on internet searches and his memory of time spent Down Under.

Other details were also found online. ‘In Melbourne, malt vinegar isn’t very popular,’ he says. ‘But I found on Google that in Britain it is – so I have it here’. The whitewashed and dark wooden interior has tasteful nautical accents with low-hanging fisherman lamps overhead and old Chinese military boxes (bought from Taobao) used as stools.

‘I couldn’t find haddock or cod so I went to the market to find alternatives,’ explains Xue. The pared-down menu includes flounder (40RMB) sourced from Tongchuan Lu fish market and sea bass (50RMB) from Metro supermarket. All of which come with fluffy, thin-cut chips (passable but probably the only clue that it’s not a Brit behind the counter), peas, lemon and a ramekin of own-made tartar sauce (mayo mixed with mushed Del Monte sweet pickles, we’re told).

A perfectly pitched cheap eat destined for if-all-else-fails status with homesick Brits and Anglophiles on a budget. On our visit, sea bass was serviceable but didn’t hold the batter as well as the firm, meaty flounder which made the best stand-in for cod. The light, golden batter, made using Tsingtao beer, was crisp and clean and not too oily. From the sides menu (all sharing size), the light, fluffy, pop-corn-style fried scallops (25RMB) had a satisfyingly fishy kick. Drinks-wise, usual suspects Carlsberg (30RMB) and Tsingtao (25RMB) are available, but with craft beer shop Cheers In only two doors away, Xue’s bring-your-own-drinks policy is a masterstoke.

Alexander Barlow
Venue name: The Sailors Fish & Chips (CLOSED)
Opening hours: 11am-11pm daily
Mobile: 6433 5748
Metro: Jiashan Lu
English address: 33 Yongkang Lu, near Jiashan Lu, Xuhui district
Chinese address: 徐汇区永康路33号, 近嘉善路