Is this the best fish and chips in the Solomon Islands?
In a country surrounded by the sea, where fish is a staple, it is a bold statement to make.
But according to Davis Kwanae, the co-owner of Auki’s Jopanara Kai Bar, there is no argument.
“I reckon it is,” he said, in response to SIBC’s question on whether Jopanara did, in fact, have the best fish and chips in the Solomon Islands.
“It’s hard to get the Auki taste in Honiara. We keep the kitchen clean, where as in Honiara some of the fish and chip stores are dirty I think.”
The Jopanara Kai Bar has been cooking fish and chips in Auki for about 20 years. Now at its third location, on the water adjacent to the Auki Market, the shop does a roaring trade.
The team cook 40 Bonito per day, everyday with the figure getting up to 100 during Christmas and Easter. A serve of $30 fish and chips gets its loyal customers – of which there are plenty – four huge pieces of fish and four pieces of cassava.
There are many secrets behind its success.
The shop only serves fresh fish and and has its own canoe for fishing everyday. It is great value (SIBC challenges anyone to not be full to the brim after eating a Jopanara serving) and has a superb location, overlooking the harbour.
And yet, according to its co-owners, its real secret to success comes from a secret itself.
The cook. John Leong, has a secret recipe – and he won’t reveal it to anyone.
“I don’t even know it,” Mr Kwanae said. “I know he does different spices for different types of fish. Lots of those other fish and chips stores have their recipes, but I dunno, it doesn’t taste the same.”
And next on the agenda for the team is an expansion into other types of kai kai.
“We have plans. Watch this space.”