Hastings Old Town restaurant launches vegan fish and chips

The Hempist restaurant on the seafront in Hastings Old Town will be serving up portions of vegan fish and chips from Saturday.

It is a bold move with the restaurant surrounded by traditional fish and chip restaurants but owner Dan Wiltshire says there is a demand for it and it is generating a lot of interest.

The dish has already won an award from the drinks industry for the vegan beer that it uses to make the batter.

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Dan said: “There is a lot of concern over the sustainability of fish stocks and the plastic in the sea that may end up in fish. A lot of people want to eat with a clear conscience, knowing that nothing has been killed.”

Hempist vegan fish and chips SUS-210207-084734001

But for this to work, the food has to taste good. I was the first person in Hastings to sample the dish on Thursday and I have to say I was hugely impressed. The secret of the fish substitute is banana blossom, the edible flower of a banana plant which not only tastes good but has a flaky consistency similar to fish. The plant is marinated in natural flavours, including seaweed to give it the seafood flavour.

It was served up, beautifully presented, by chef Kennan Karatas, who worked on the recipe with Dan and other members of the kitchen team.

The vegan fish comes with vegan tartare sauce, mushy peas and what are the best chips I have ever tasted.

The beer batter was incredibly light and crunchy and the plant-based fish had a lovely texture and subtle flavour. The batter and chips were not greasy at all, which I have often found take-away fish and chips to be, I found it to be just the right amount but had space to try a slice of vegan coconut cheese cake, which can only be described as witchcraft. It was so creamy and light that if I had not known it was vegan I would have been certain it was dairy.

The dish follows the Hempist coming up with a Southern coated fried chicken and Cajun fries earlier this year, which proved hugely popular.

The new vegan chips will be available in the Hempist restaurant, or for take-away orders, from Saturday July 3 from noon. The restaurant is on Marine Parade, opposite the boating lake.