ONIt's a meal choice on the downslope, losing ground to Seitan burgers and poke bowls how Millennials are afraid of the modest Spud. But a fish and chip shop near York has achieved a new way of attracting customers: translating its menu into Mandarin.
Scotts Fish and Chips near York now serves more than 100 Chinese vacationers a week after launching a Mandarin website and promoting its fried delicacies on Weibo and WeChat, China's response to Twitter and WhatsApp.
The new popularity of the Yorkshire Chippy is due to the fish and chips and pint of Greene King IPA, which Chinese President Xi Jinping shared with David Cameron in 2015 as a "golden age" of relations between Britain and China during a diplomatic flirtation.
Three years later, relations between the two countries may have cooled off, but the "Xi effect" seems very real.
During Thursday's busy lunch break, Scott's manager Roxy Vasai said they were experiencing a Chinese boom. "We're looking for a coach, and when they come, we call, they're here, 20, 30, 40, we'll get it ready for them," she said.
Employees want food in the restaurant to be a real opportunity for visitors, she said, with chefs and waiters regularly posing for selfies with their Chinese guests. "We have fun, we make them feel welcome, they like to take pictures to share with family and friends."
Vasai said the staff had been surprised by his growing popularity and some exchanged traditional Yorkshire "ta, love" for Mandarin. "We started to learn a bit, things like, thank you, and bye," Vasai said. "In the future we will be able to say more – we just ask the Chinese and they tell us."
The restaurant is located next to a McDonalds on a busy A-road six miles southwest of York. But the global fast food giant does not seem to be a competitor to the locally run Chippy – at least not with Chinese visitors.
Many of the East Asian guests opt for the £ 12.50 cod and chips, which are bitterly washed down with a cold pint of Yorkshire, said the owner of the restaurant Tony Webster. Others shun a Yorkshire beer and ask for hot water for their own Chinese tea.
"The word is spreading," he said. "The Chinese themselves are very active word-of-mouth propagandists, and by including their language and social media platforms, that seems to be the thing that really works for us."
Scotts offers tiny samples of fish and chip virgins – few Chinese visitors dare to dine on the "Moby Dick" serving, a 14-inch battled beast too full for even the most greedy patrons.
Visits from the United Kingdom to Britain have risen by 89% to 337,000 over the past five years, according to Visit Britain. Since the introduction of a direct flight between Manchester and Beijing in June 2016 and from Hong Kong to Manchester in December 2014, northern England has seen an influx of Chinese visitors.
As a result of both routes, nearly 700,000 people have traveled between China and the North, 224,000 to and from Yorkshire, to Manchester Airport.
The tourism boom was good news for the British business: Chinese visitors are among the largest spenders in the UK. On average, they spent £ 2 059 during their visit, more than three times the average market average.
Andrew Speke, who heads up BeiWei's 55 Chinese-language Food Guides in London, said fish and chips were high on the list of "must-try" programs for a new generation of Chinese middle-class tourists.
"We have moved away from the days when all Chinese people traveled in a bus through Europe and ate their meals in suburban Chinese restaurants," said Speke. "Our clients are the Chinese middle classes from the first or second Chinese cities, they see Downton Abbey and Sherlock and they want the classic British experience."
He brings Chinese visitors to Fish Kitchen, an upmarket café on Borough Market in London, where cod, fries and mushy peas cost £ 18.95.
Unlike other foreign visitors, the Chinese are not afraid to pour vinegar over their chips, Speke said. "Vinegar is more popular in northern China than soy sauce, in cities like Beijing and Shijiazhuang, in southern China and Hong Kong, where people dip their dumplings in soy."
There is a common misconception among the Chinese that the British eat fish and chips every day. "Sometimes they ask how we are not all fat enough to eat like that," said Speke.
Chinese tourists find it hard to understand why so many British meals are cold. "They think it's strange that we have cereal for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch, so it's not unusual for them to have noodles for breakfast and then a big cooked lunch – the cold things they eat tend to being spicy, like cucumbers or side dishes with a lot of chilli, a cold pork pie does not tend to go too well. "
Although Chinese visitors like to sample England's culinary delights, they do not always return for seconds. Liuzixin, a 20-year-old student who visited Manchester from Beijing, told the Guardian that she found the fish chips she sampled in York "a bit boring" compared to the "variety of food in China."
Zhuqiongyang, a 24-year-old student from Henan, agreed. "We do not like fried food," she said, adding that she loved the chocolate cake and cheese she tasted in the UK.
British beer is more popular. The Chinese sales of Green King IPA went through the roof after receiving XI's support, and the pub in Princess Risborough near Checkers, where he and Cameron met for their friendship, was bought by a Chinese investor who bought it for wants to copy an asian chain.
Andrew Crook, president of the National Federation of Fish Friers, who works to protect and promote the interests of fish and chip companies across the UK and beyond, said he has not heard of any other dedicated Chippi, one of them Menu in Chinese language offers. "But it's a great idea," he said.
He has advised emerging chippy owners in China, Japan and Vietnam on how to operate an authentic facility and says that China is a fast-growing market. Xi's visit to the UK was the trigger, he said, "Chinese people saw this very English scene on television about a pub and a pint and a few fish and chips and wanted to try it out for themselves."