For people who care about their food

The Ship Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur

Jalan Bukit Bintang

The Ship is one of a chain of six restaurants: two in KL, four elsewhere in Malaysia (including Penang). We visited the one in Jalan Bukit Bintang, although there’s another in Jalan Sultan Ismail.

Actually, we hadn’t set out intending to go to the Ship at all, even though it does bill itself as providing “The Best Steak In Town”. (Beef isn’t our favourite meat, although both of us enjoy a steak from time to time.) But as we were passing, a waitress invited us to look at the menu – and we were happy enough to do that, since she didn’t then harass us by hovering over our shoulder, pointing at individual dishes and telling us their names. (Why do so many whippers-in do that? Do they think we can’t read?) The range looked good and the prices seemed reasonable, so we went inside.

Almost immediately we thought we’d been struck blind! It was so dark we were struggling to see the floor in front of us, which made it difficult to follow the waitress showing us to our alcove table. However, we got there in the end. The two beers we ordered arrived quickly, and we settled down to decide what we were going to eat. Neither of us was ravenously hungry at that stage, and we hesitated to order two big meals at once in case the food was inedible. So we decided we would try to order the seafood platter as a shared starter, and then perhaps order a further meal if we liked what we’d eaten so far. Time to summon a waiter.

Mr ND had noticed a small orange panel with three buttons at the wall end of the table; one to call for service, one to call for dessert, and one to ask for the bill. When he pressed the service button, a waiter duly appeared. We explained that we’d like to share the seafood platter as a starter, and maybe order a further dish if we were still hungry. He didn’t seem at all thrown by this request.



When the platter arrived, we found it consisted largely of breaded items: two small pieces of fish, two crabmeat balls, a few scallops, two prawns and a couple of pieces of (non-breaded) squid. I described it as “breadcrumbs garnished with a bit of seafood”. The scallops were like little rubber bullets, though not as tough as the squid, which Mr ND couldn’t even manage to cut. But the prawns had been cleaned properly, the fish was tasty enough if not exceptional, and the crabmeat balls were fine if you eat that sort of thing (Mr ND does, I don’t.) The accompanying chips were of the frozen crinkle-cut variety. So not a gourmet feast, but good enough value for money to encourage us to try sharing a steak meal.

The menu offered a wide range of steak options. Some of them sounded intriguing, but in the end we went for a fillet steak in green pepper sauce, done rare. We ordered a side salad in addition to the vegetables which came with the steak, and asked if a baked potato could be substituted for the chips, which was fine. Again, it was no problem to share the meal; in fact, we didn’t ask to do this, but the staff clearly picked up on the fact that we’d been consulting on what to order and brought two sets of cutlery of their own accord.

The steak was beautifully done and very tasty. So was the the green pepper sauce, although it unexpectedly contained green capsicums as well as green peppercorns. The plate arrived with chips on rather than a baked potato, but a quick word with the waiter soon brought a further plate with one of the smallest baked potatoes we’ve ever seen. The vegetables were of the tinned mixed veg type and most unappetising. So it was just as well we’d ordered the salad too. The salad was all right, although the asparagus it contained was flabby and tasteless. We were offered a choice of French dressing or Thousand Island dressing, and opted for the French dressing, which was almost solid and consisted mostly of garlic paste. Good job we like garlic!

Overall rating: 2½-3 out of 5 for food; 4 out of 5 for service
It’s highly unlikely that we’d ever go back to the Ship again on the strength of its food, which was mediocre and pretty much what you’d expect from a chain – a lot of tinned, pickled, frozen or processed ingredients. But the steak was undeniably very good. We left feeling that our hunger had been satisfied, at least; the beer was very reasonably priced, too; and you’d go a long way before you’d find service as helpful and friendly as the staff in the Ship. All in all, we thought it was very good value for money.

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