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A Fish & Chips Shop Once Called ‘LA’s Best’ Has Found a New Home in a Happy Valley Food Cart

Batterfish, a recently opened food cart at Happy Valley Station, is frying wild-caught fish in flavored batters

A piece of brown-crusted, glistening fried fish sits on a bed of fries, cradled in a red-and-white-paper-lined basket
Fish and chips from the Encino Batterfish
Lucas Peterson / ELA

Way back in 2015, Jason Killalee, a Dublin expat and former actor, was serving, in the eyes of some, Los Angeles’s best fish-and-chips. Homesick for the fish and chips he ate back in Ireland, he started making his own, playing around with distinct batters pepped up with sambal oelek or garlic and ginger. Killalee posted up in an Encino shop frying fish until it developed a light, crunchy, shimmering crust — not doughy or soaked in grease. Soon, people started to take notice — including critics and food writers. “Killalee is a craftsman, a Degas of the deep fryer,” writes Lucas Peterson in a 2015 piece for Eater LA. “His care is reflected in the sheer deliciousness of his product.”

Five years later, Killalee has moved his operation 952 miles north, frying fish out of a food cart at Happy Valley Station. He and his wife moved up to Oregon in 2018, but he decided to take a year off, landing at the Painted Lady in Newberg. He had planned to open sooner, but this year has thrown some obvious curveballs. “We were going to open in the spring, but COVID pushed us back... We had just opened in August, but then the place caught fire,” he says, referring to the recent Clackamas County fire. “That was a little bit alarming.”

Now, however, Killalee has found his rhythm. He’s back frying wild-caught cod and salmon, dipping them in distinct batters with specific marinades. For example, cod can come dipped in his traditional Irish batter or one flavored with curry; the salmon gets hit with a lemon-basil puree. Nonetheless, the actual fry is what Killalee says makes his fish and chips stand out — at least over here. “If it’s done well, it’s a brilliant dish... Unfortunately, lots of people do it really wrong. If you put a frozen thing in a fryer, you’re poaching. It becomes greasy. You put your fish in clean, hot oil, and it keeps the fish nice and moist,” Killalee says. “People make fried food badly; you don’t have to.”

Killalee is similarly dogmatic about his fries, which he hand-cuts and double-fries; however, he would clarify that they are true chips, not fries. “Chips are different from french fries; they’re not frozen crispy sticks,” he says. “If you’re making spaghetti bolognese with instant noodles, it’s fine, it’s just not the same. Making fish and chips with frozen french fries is not the same.”

Beyond straight fish and chips, Killalee serves everything from Baja-style fish tacos to beer-battered spicy sausage, with specials like bay scallop ceviche or lobster rolls. In the future, he’d like to start serving vegan fish and chips — we’re in Portland, after all. But for now, he’s just focusing on the fish. “Fish and chips done right is near and dear to my heart,” he says. “The flavored batters add just a little something extra.”

Batterfish [Official]
Happy Valley Station [Official]
LA’s Best Fish & Chips Are Frying Up in Encino [ELA]
Experience Fish and Chips Bliss at Encino’s Batterfish [LAW]
The Scrappiness of Portland’s Food Carts Made Them Leaders During the Pandemic [EPDX]

Happy Valley Station

13551 SE 145th St, Happy Valley, OR 97086

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