You can tell summer is around the corner when you go down to Gongguan Riverside Park (公館水岸) and it is inhabited by joggers and cyclists, and there are families heading into the Museum of Drinking Water (臺北水道水源地) to learn more about water filtration.
An unlikely new arrival to this year’s riverside scene is Dazzler’s Fish and Chips, which serves fish and chips (NT$200) and not much else at its blue-and-white storefront with outdoor seating.
The joint looks simplistically casual and maybe a little dinky, but if you have a taste for the marquee item, it is a good place and even the best place for enjoying a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Opened last June by a long-term expatriate from Birmingham, UK, Dazzler’s does the classic British fish and chips: one big portion of firm white dory fillet tossed in beer batter, deep-fried and served with steak fries, a scoop of tartar sauce and a wedge of lemon.
I could see the grease pool on my order with a special acuity, partly because it sat on a white paper plate but also because everybody in the vicinity was exercising. But this thing was surprisingly enjoyable, full of flavor and very filling. Both the fish and the chips are fried up on the spot. The fries are good and sturdy, left unseasoned, so you will need to drown them in malt vinegar and Tabasco yourself. The mahogany batter on the fish, also left unseasoned, is almost a cakey affair with an unusual chewy texture. Break it open, and the insides are hot and sweet, with a delicate buttery taste.
The tartar sauce is homemade, with a thicker consistency and a creamier mayonnaise base than Hellmann’s. It is packed with tiny pickle pieces that give texture and impart a mild tang, and there is a hint of onion that makes it savory, too. Overall, this sauce is very nice — it makes the fish rich, but is light enough to eat on its own.
Address: Outside Pipe Live Music at 1 Siyuan Street, Taipei City (台北市思源街一號). Nearest MRT station: Gongguan
Open: Saturday and Sunday from 3pm to 9pm
Average meal: NT$300
Details: English and Chinese menu, cash only
You can also order a hill of chips (NT$100) a la carte and pair it with gravy or curry sauce (NT$40), also made in-house.
Dazzler’s also offers a couple other entrees: English sausage dogs (NT$150) and burgers, including a fish burger (NT$150), which is a fried white dory fillet in a bun and comes with chips.
The beef burger (NT$150), served with cheese for another NT$20, is a basic little specimen that should satisfy a purist. The Australian beef patty — a bit thin but grilled to order and gleefully fatty — is served animal-style, with a nominal serving of cold lettuce, pillowy sesame buns and a mess of ketchup and mustard.
Wash it down with a beer or English tea (served hot at NT$80 a cup and NT$120 a pot). The alcohol list at Dazzler’s includes hard apple cider (NT$150), Guinness (NT$180) a few less-common craft drinks like Moosehead (NT$130) and Hoegaarden (NT$150), a Belgian wheat beer.
Warning: Excessive consumption of alcohol can damage your health.