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Eating out / Crispy, tasty fish-and-chips with local specialty sea bream

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Fish-and-chips using red sea bream, a delicacy of Ehime Prefecture, right, and fresh pineapple juice served at Agetai in Matsuyama

By Yuichi Otani / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterMATSUYAMA — Equipped with a counter and tall stools, a small diner named Agetai serves fish-and-chips as a signature dish, so it looks like a British pub at first. Instead, however, the diner located in the Matsuyama Ropeway shopping district near Matsuyama Castle is filled with the owner’s affection for his home: Matsuyama and Ehime Prefecture.

Unlike ordinary fish-and-chips that feature deep-fried cod, this diner uses red sea bream, a local specialty fish. The shop’s name Agetai is also Japanese for deep-fried red sea bream.

The batter of its fish-and-chips uses flour made of hadaka-mugi barley, also a product of the prefecture.

Customers who order the fish-and-chips can choose from among three condiments — tartar sauce, salsa and natural salt. Upon taking a bite of a savory, crispy deep-fried piece, my palate was thrilled by the fish’s mouth-filling sophisticated taste sealed inside the coating of batter.

“I hope people enjoy the taste of fish from Ehime Prefecture as fast food, which is more casual than sushi or taimeshi [rice with sea bream],” said owner Tomoshige Saito, 42.

The diner, opened by Saito in 2013, also serves such popular dishes as Agetai Burger, which is deep-fried red sea bream on a bun, and Jakokatsu Burger, which features deep-fried fish paste.

Fish-and-chips is priced at ¥750 for three pieces, ¥1,100 for six pieces and ¥1,500 for nine pieces. The sea-bream burger is priced at ¥650.

While eating deep-fried sea bream steaming hot out of the kitchen, I felt thirsty and checked the shop menu to look for a drink suited for the dish. The diner’s manager, Haruka Yamazaki, 41, told me, “Many people like our pineapple juice.”

When the juice was served to me, I was surprised that it was in a real pineapple and the juice was just pressed from fresh pineapple.

I heard the juice is popular largely because it looks cool in Instagram photos.

The pineapple juice is priced at ¥800. There is also similarly prepared fresh grapefruit juice for ¥500. Dogo Beer and some other locally brewed beers are priced at ¥850.

Saito recently opened an outlet at the Dogo Onsen hot spring spa, a popular tourist spot in the city.

When talking about his wish as the diner’s owner, Saito made a pun on the phrase “agetai,” which has two meanings: deep-fried (age) sea bream (tai) and “want to give” in English.

“I ‘agetai’ [want to give] good luck to customers [not only from Ehime Prefecture], but also from outside the prefecture by serving sea bream, which is said to bring good luck,” Saito said with a mischievous smile.

Agetai

Open: 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. or until sold out

Closed: Wednesdays

Address: 3-4-1 Okaido, Matsuyama

Phone: (089) 904-4515

Credit cards accepted

English menu available

To find out more about Japan’s attractions, visit http://the-japan-news.com/news/d&d

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