The number one place to eat near Swindon is not a restaurant, the owner insists.

But it is ranked first for ‘restaurants’ near the Town on Tripadvisor with a five-star rating and a  Traveller’s Choice Award 2023.

China Chef in Royal Wootton Bassett is a fish and chip shop owned by Helen Coon, who runs the shop with her husband.

Helen describes it as a humble business, and said: “We just rely on premium products to produce a proper tasting, home cooked, fish and chip meal.

“Whatever I produce, I would serve myself.”

Helen is careful to pick the potatoes with the right starch level for the oil, adding: “I do not go for a crop of potatoes which are anything less than first class.”

She inherited the restaurant from her parents, who opened 44 years ago on May 1. 

She also inherited their secret curry sauce recipe, which is made in the shop from raw ingredients.

Helen would only reveal two facts about the sauce: First, that it is cooked for a day, and secondly that it contains apples.

Helen says she feels ‘really lucky’ to have sold to four generations of the same family, with regular customers from all over the surrounding towns.

However, some things have changed at the establishment.

The pandemic encouraged people to order ahead, a habit that has stuck, and they have introduced steamed cod for healthier and alternative diets.

With the introduction of online reviews they have started getting more custom from outside of Wootton Bassett, drawn by the positive reviews.

“They'll come in after they have dined and say everything I read about you is true, and that's really nice to hear.”

Online reviews praise the friendly, chatty staff, with Tripadvisor describing it as a ‘charming chip shop known for satisfying portions of fish and chips’.

They do not fail to notice the curry sauce, with one noting: “Really friendly owners, and of course great food 10/10. 

“The service is helpful and accommodating with little chats and friendly interactions. 

“The food is obviously great and the curry sauce especially is perfect.”

Another explained: “I have some awkward food allergies that make take away food challenging for me. 

“Helen and her team were super helpful in recommending menu items that are suitable for me and even offered to cook something to order for me.

“I would recommend them to everyone.”