A colleague's judgement after sampling the fare at this country's first "authentic" fish and chip shop was that it wasn't how he remembered the dish. The Brit is a southerner, you see, but in the north of England and Scotland they do things slightly differently. In the south fries are generally thinner and the fish is cooked in vegetable oil. Salt and vinegar are added and sometimes tomato sauce. In the North, the fish and chips tend to be larger and fried in animal fat. The sauce is brown and and the vinegar is a heavy malt.
As the name suggests, The Frying Scotsman provides a genuine sample of Scottish cuisine, from cod fillets fished out of the North Atlantic, to scotch pies and deep fried Mars bars (surprisingly good). And if the only thing missing at the moment is a can of Irn Bru to wash it down, that's coming, along with Tennants lager. In the meantime there is Boddingtons, Guiness, Stella Artois and Taiwan beer. Failing that a cup of English tea is hard to beat.
The managers at Frying Scotsman are from Falkirk in central Scotland and spent NT$2 million buying a state-of-the-art fish-and-chip fryer, the only one in Taiwan. Shipping the 4 tonnes of parts to Taiwan and getting an engineer to put them back together again was extra.
They have set up shop in the Xinyi district, in a brightly lit space that has pale yellow and blue walls, with two cherry red lamps and a flat-screen TV at the back. It's plainly not the work of an interior designer, but then no UK fish and chip shop (with the possible exception of Harry Ramsden's) is.
General manager Duncan Inglis is a former cook, paratrooper, oil rig engineer and high speed rail engineer who has settled in Taiwan and started his restaurant for the simple reason there was a gap in the market and he knew he could fill it.
Inglis said that at the opening last week, "A lady said to me, `You have just made living in Taiwan 1,000 times better. Thank you.' I want to provide a taste of Britain. I don't want to change it and make it sweeter for local tastes. I don't know whether you can change it or make it better."
As for our meal, the European cod fillet with chips was good but a bit pricey for NT$390. The cheaper Canadian cod fillet was bland in comparison. The pies received good reviews from friends who had tried them and though a little on the small side represent good value at NT$200.