The story of Chuck’s Grub Fish & Chips is every budding entrepreneur’s dream. Owner Enrique Valles lived in London for seven years and came home to Manila to head a seafood distribution business. Together with his wife Isha Andaya-Valles, the two had an idea to open a proper fish and chips shop in the Philippines. Like most enterprising beginners, they rented a stall in Mercato Centrale to test the waters. The night market favorite has expanded into six branches around Metro Manila—three of which are full-scale shops called “chippy shops,” where customers can sit down and dine in, instead of the usual takeaway style typical of fish and chips joints in London.
SM Megamall BranchCustomers can choose from four different kinds of fish: Dory, Cobbler, Snapper and Halibut—all of which are beer-battered and deep-fried into crisp, golden brown perfection. It’s not easy to create deep-fried fish fingers without ending up with an oil-soaked batch of rubbery fish or a batter that is more of a hard shell than a nice, crunchy coating. Chuck’s Grub’s does not sacrifice the taste and quality of the fish, and the secret is in their beer batter, which forms a light, crisp covering around the fish and lets it slowly steam inside when it’s taken out of the fryer. The new authority on fish and chips in Manila makes their beer batter from scratch, everyday. “Since beer gets flat, we have to make batter every 30 minutes,” Enrique, who is now inadvertently called Chuck, shares their dedication to giving Manila authentic fish and chips.
For those curious about their fish selection, Chuck’s Grub provides a handy primer, which can also be found on the side of its cardboard cone.
Chuck's Grub Fish FactsOne of their bestsellers is the Dory & Chips Grub Up (P200), which contains four pieces of dory fish, the usual number good enough to satisfy cravings and appease a mid-sized appetite. The dory is the most popular in their fish selection, with meat that is soft, creamy and fatty.
Dory Fish and ChipsA personal favorite, the Snapper, is a meatier and chunkier kind of fish. It has lesser fat than the Dory and has a more distinct fish flavor. The Halibut, which is the most expensive among their offerings, possesses a unique, sophisticated flavor that lingers.
SnapperCustomers can choose from the following dip/sauce to accompany their fish and chips: Garlic Mayo, Tartare Sauce, Good Old Vinegar, Spicy Ranch. So far, most customers get the garlic mayo; made from real garlic cloves, and not powder, which makes it pretty intense. I call the good old vinegar my choice of dip, though—its sourness packs a punch and makes me think I’m eating from a real fish and chips shop in London.
As Chuck’s Grub continues to expand, they’ve also added more items to their menu.
The Fish Burger (P160) is a recent addition, which is highly recommended to pesco-vegetarians. Its fillet is breaded differently, with meat that is delicate, soft and flaky. I recommend eating this with garlic mayo and some hot sauce. You’ll be craving for it soon enough.
Fish BurgerIdeal for takeaway, their salad selections are designed to be movie-date friendly. The Pinoy favorite, the Creamy Caesar Salad (P90), contains the usual greens, croutons, white dressing and a load of bacon bits. Mix everything by shaking the salad in its plastic container. Voila! Lettuce leaves all evenly coated with dressing and cheese.
Creamy Caesar SaladThe Jalapeno Poppers (P150) are not particularly spicy, but very cheesy. They are, essentially, cheese-stuffed jalapeno peppers. Smother it with tomato relish and eat while the cheddar cheese is still melting in its own heat. Highly addicting.
Jalapeno PoppersOne of my favorites is the Sloppy Chips (P110), a cone of chips drizzled with cheese sauce, tomato relish and bacon bits. They don’t scrimp on the bacon bits, so you get that smoky flavor with every bite. I found myself reaching for sloppy chip after sloppy chip, which makes these cheese-coated things pretty deadly. Just try not to choke as you use the cone to shovel everything in your mouth.
Sloppy ChipsOf course, perfect with anything deep-fried is some cold beer. Chuck’s Grub offers several kinds: the Philippines’ own San Mig Light (P60) and Pale Pilsen (P60); and foreign beers like Oatmeal Stout (P160), Poleeko Gold Pale Ale (P160), Czech Style Pilsner (P115) and Hefweizen (P135).
For dessert, try the Deep Fried Fudge Bar (P60), which is a compact, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate treat that shouldn’t be shared. Maybe it’s the local chocolate bar, Cloud 9, or maybe not—or, maybe I’ll let you decide for yourself. For P60 a pop, have some decency and get your own piece, because this sinful creation deserves to be enjoyed in its full, gooey, roll-it-in-whipped-cream goodness.
Deep Fried Fudge BarChuck’s Grub sixth chippy shop has just opened in SM Mall of Asia the other week. Who knew London’s fish and chips would become this big in Manila? Thanks to the folks behind Chuck’s Grub, people this side of the world are becoming familiar with this favorite British meal—and not just for the sake of being hip or first, but for the sake of sharing a cultural experience, be it as commonplace as delicious fish and chips.