Renton’s Salty Blue brings Aussie-style fish and chips to Puget Sound’s culinary landscape

Restaurant owner said he is the region’s sole importer of traditional Australian fish.

New seafood restaurant Salty Blue opened this month at 601 S. 3rd St. near downtown Renton — and owner Xenos Nair is changing up the fish and chips scene with his Australian-style recipes and menu.

Nair comes from a Fijian background and visiting his family over the years in Australia has given him the chance to try different kinds of regional seafood dishes. He said he has developed a passion for certain Aussie-style coastal dishes like their fish and chips.

“I am not a native Australian, but I am a neighbor of Australia,” he joked.

On the wall inside Salty Blue, framed wall art depicts places like Bondi Beach and Surfers Paradise in Australia, where Nair said he has tried some of the best fish and chips he has ever had. It’s an homage to the places that inspired his Renton business.

Nair said the authentic Australian recipes that are on his current menu have been tried and tested over the five or six years before he opened Salty Blue in early March.

The fish at the heart of the fish and chips is New Zealand Hoki, a fish that Nair says is firm white fish that is commonly used for fish and chips in Australia.

Nair said he is pretty confident that he is the only restaurant that serves this variety of fish in the entire Puget Sound region.

The Aussie-authenticity begins with the fish, but it does not end there. Nair’s menu includes a “crumbed” calamari dish, which uses seasoned bread crumbs as a breading for the squid, as well as thinly sliced and breaded Australian potato cakes or “scallops,” and even a chicken schnitzel burger. The latter is a breaded chicken sandwich that Nair said is popular in Australia because of their German influence.

“I believe in [the dishes] because of the work I put into it,” Nair said.

Nair said he also made an effort to incorporate a popular Australian seasoning called “chicken salt,” a move that he said Australian customers have already shown to appreciate.

Salty Blue also provides some healthier alternatives to traditional fish and chips. Nair said fish can be served grilled instead of fried, fries can be substituted with sweet potato fries, and their vinegar-based coleslaw is less fatty than traditional mayo-based slaws.

Because of pandemic restrictions, Salty Blue is take-out only with no dine-in options, but Nair said he is looking forward to having customers dine inside.

In the future, Nair said he hopes to develop partnerships with Renton’s local brewers because fish and chips paired with beer only makes sense.