Readers of Canadian Living Magazine confirmed what many Richmond residents already know - where to get some of the best fish and chips in the country.
According to the April 2013 edition, Pajo's placed third overall in Canada.
"The secret to their success? Fresh, local ingredients, stellar customer service and a top-secret fish and chips recipe," states the magazine's story which asked readers to share their favorites.
Grabbing first place in the readers' opinion was John's Lunch in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. And finishing ahead of Pajo's was Lord Elgin Fish & Chips in Port Elgin, Ontario.
Andrew Stokes, director of operations for four locations-two in Steveston, and one in Port Coquitlam and Port Moody-said he was ecstatic after hearing the news the family-owned business had received such lofty recognition.
He said the key to the success of the "chippy" is a combination of unique, outdoor locations, the use of locally sourced ingredients, and a tried and tested, light batter.
"It was a nice surprise, for sure, because we work hard to make ourselves unique," Stokes said.
Part of that is the batter recipe.
"It's a lighter, tempura style," he said, being careful not to give too much of the mixture's secrets away. "Rather than the thick, heavy, beer batter that's more English style ours is very light and allows you to focus more on the flavor of the fish. It's also nice and crispy and doesn't weigh you down at all," Stokes said.
Fresh ingredients is another key.
"The fish, it's all west coast line caught and we have local Kennebec potatoes for the fries which are all hand cut," Stokes said.
"The potatoes come straight from the farmer (in nearby Delta) to us."
How your order is served is another part of the experience as customers get their food in a paper cone and can sit outside with specially made tables with holes that accommodate the cones. "We always say it's the most fun you can have with a cone," Stokes said.
And location is the crowning touch for all four eateries.
The Port Moody location is nestled waterside in Rocky Point Park. The Port Coquitlam outlet is near the river in Gates Park amidst a large sports complex.
And both Richmond outlets are either near the water-such as the Garry Point restaurant-or on it-as in the Steveston Wharf. That's where in 1985 founders Patricia Branch and then business partner Joan Whettlaufer-their first names are where the name Pajo's was derived-came up with the idea.
This week, with renovations being completed on the Port Moody location, Stokes said the company is actively looking for a fifth site to serve up more fish and chips.