Scots chef opens fish and chip van in Japan - selling deep fried snickers

Japanese locals can now tuck into traditional fish and chips, and deep fried Snickers,thanks to a Scots chef.

Published 17th Jun 2021
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

A Scottish chef, who worked at the Ubiquitous Chip, has opened a fish and chip van on a Japanese island.

Chef Sam Galbraith, 28, moved to Japan two-and-a-half years ago after working in Glasgow, London, Australia and New Zealand.

Originally Sam, who is from Aberfoyle, went to Japan to work during the ski season at Niseko ski resort, he ended up staying longer when he was offered a job on Ishigaki island, Okinawa, near Taiwan, where he met his wife Kumi, 32.

Now the couple work together in their food truck, Bonnie Blue, which is a renovated 1994 Toyota van.

Selling fish and chips, Sam and Kumi are offering locals and tourists a little taste of Scotland with traditional fare including a deep fried Snickers, as Mars bars aren't readily available.

The island is traditionally a tourist resort but has been deprived of international visitors due to covid.

Samwell Galbraith / SWNS.COM

Sam, who has worked as a chef for ten years, said: "It's the best place I've ever been without doubt, it is an absolute paradise for us with incredible mountains, jungle, beaches, food, and wildlife.

"I only planned to stay about three or four months to enjoy the snowboarding but I was offered a job at a restaurant within a beautiful small beachside hotel in the countryside and met Yumi in the first month I was here.

"We bought an old food truck, spent three months redesigning and fixing it to our specifications and then we opened Bonnie Blue.

"We do UK-style fish and chips but with the freshest local fish straight off the boats brought to us by our friend who is a fisherman and also runs a sashimi shop opposite our apartment, it has been really popular.

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"We have tweaked the traditional fish and chips to be a bit more island style with three smaller cuts of beer battered fish, a spoon of fresh crunchy coleslaw and pea shoots rather than mushy peas.

"It's tropical weather here so a bit of fresh salad is a must.

"We use local beer for the batter and season the chips with Nori seaweed salt, and we do deep fried Snickers.

"We chose Snickers because it's much better than a Mars Bar when fried as the peanuts and nougat hold it together better and give a much better texture when the chocolate and caramel has melted."

Currently hospitality restrictions are stricter in Japan than the UK with many restaurants remaining closed, and others that are open, need to close at 8pm - with no alcohol being served.

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Explaining how this has impacted his business, Sam said: "We have been dependent solely on local customers as we started the truck up in the middle of a global pandemic.

"Ishigaki has no foreign visitors and this has really affected people here as the main industries are hospitality and scuba and snorkel tours.

"Restaurants cannot serve alcohol and need to be closed by 8pm and most have just closed totally until tourists can revisit.

"People have helped us so much with everything from the rules and regulations to where we can park our truck to open up."

He described the island as "the best place I've ever been without doubt" and said it is home now.

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But he misses the Old Firm and the sound of Scottish accents, saying: "I miss the accents, the sense of humour, even the architecture and the madness of a certain football match in Glasgow of which none of my friends here could ever understand."

The deep fried Mars bar was created in Stonehaven in the early 90s and quickly became famous, and associated with Scotland.

Battered sweet treats have hit the headlines in years gone by with Tunnocks teacakes, a Bounty (courtesy of Nigella) and a Colin the Caterpillar cake all getting the deep fried treatment.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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