For people who care about their food

The Ship Inn, Bangkok

Soi 23
Sukhumvit Road
Bangkok

We like to eat a variety of cuisines, it’s true – and one of the big attractions of Thailand is the often excellent standard of a wide range of food styles from all over the world, helped by the huge diversity of Thailand’s agriculture. They grow almost everything here! But from time to time, we like to go back to British basics like fish ‘n’ chips.

There used to be several options for decent British grub in Soi 23, just by Soi Cowboy (one of the girlie bar areas near Sukhumvit Road; it’s actually a sub-soi between Soi 21 (Asok) and Soi 23). Sadly, both the Old Dutch and the Offshore Fish Bar have gone downhill since we first visited them in the late 1990s. It’s particularly disappointing in the case of the Offshore as they’ve got genuine chip shop deep frying equipment made in Rochdale – but the staff there don’t seem to know how to make proper chips any more.

However, there’s one ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy landscape: the Ship Inn. Positioned between the Offshore and the Old Dutch, it’s a rose between two thorns.

When we were in Bangkok recently, and the craving for a good feed hit us, Mr ND remembered that we’d had a decent meal there on a previous visit and suggested we go and check it out again properly. We weren’t disappointed. Even though we turned up at that weird limbo time between lunch and teatime, at about half-past-three in the afternoon, we got a friendly welcome and two superbly cold Tiger beers while we made up our minds what to eat.

The menu’s not overly long by any means. This is a Good Thing. Far too many restaurants try to do too much in an attempt to please absolutely everyone, and end up getting nothing right. The Ship does a respectable range of British pub food, a few Thai dishes for those who prefer to eat Thai (handy when it’s a British/Thai couple visiting), and nothing else. Well, what else do you need? It’s a British pub in Thailand, after all.

We ordered two meals: fish and chips, and filet mignon and chips. The fish was excellent! Often when you ask for fish and chips in Thailand, the fish is a sort of off-white or grey, sometimes with the brown bits in the middle that you get around the fish’s spine, which is never pleasant to look at. This fish had none of that; it was properly white, and came in a beautifully crispy, tasty batter. The accompanying tartar sauce (home-made?) was very nice too – even Mr ND liked it, and he’s not a big fan.

The filet mignon was very nice too – a little stringy, but that was doubtless because it was made with local beef rather than imported steak – certainly at the very reasonable price that was charged for it, you wouldn’t expect to get imported meat. Anyway, it was tasty, nicely cooked as ordered (medium rare), and came with a delicious gravy.

The vegetables that accompany your average Thai pub grub can be quite disappointing to say the least – we’ve even known some purportedly upscale establishments to serve miserable, soggy frozen mixed veg, still swimming in lukewarm salty water. Don’t worry; you’ll find none of that at the Ship. The carrots, runner beans and baby corn served with the filet mignon were crisp, colourful and fresh. Delicious! (Not your typical British boiled-to-death veg, I know, but we like our veg to taste of something other than burnt cabbage…)

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit. And to round it off on a high note, Mr ND paid a visit to the facilities just before we left and reported back that they were the cleanest and best-maintained he’d been to for a long time!

Our rating: 4 out of 5
The Ship is a nice, quiet, comfortable place that serves decent food at very reasonable prices, with prompt and friendly service. It’s maybe a little too quiet for some – the first time we went in, we almost didn’t bother on the basis that quiet establishments are generally that way because there’s something wrong with them. This is emphatically not the case with the Ship! If you’re looking for a nice sit-down and a meal away from the hubbub of Sukhumvit or the hustle of Soi Cowboy, try it!

5 Responses to “The Ship Inn, Bangkok”

  1. Mr Not Delia

    We went again yesterday and were rather disappointed – we’ll be reviewing the Ship Inn again shortly, but I can tell you now it’ll not be getting more than 2½ out of 5.

  2. John Seaman

    I still like to dine there when I am in the area, but it’s definitely a bit less than it used to be. The reason is the owner (from Kent) passed on earlier this year. If his wife is there, the food is good. When she isn’t, the Thai staff may get a bit lazy.

  3. John Seaman

    p.s. I should add that the Thai dishes are still excellent.

  4. Not Delia

    Hi John

    Thanks for the feedback. We’ve been back a couple of times this year. We thought that maybe the first time was just an off-day, so we gave it another chance. I’m afraid we were disappointed again and have no plans to go back. What a pity the staff can’t follow in the tradition set by the previous owner.

    It’s still a nice place to sit and read the newspapers, but the beer sometimes isn’t properly cold these days either. The staff will quite happily put some beers in the ice-box to chill down for you, but it would be better if they just served them cold in the first place. The staff are always cheerful and friendly when we’ve been. Our only gripe is that the food isn’t so good any more.

    Go on, please tell us where you think the best British-style fish ‘n’ chips place is in Bangkok. I would love to try it.

    I like Thai food, sure I do, but I usually go to a British pub to get British grub.

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