Thai cuisine is known for capturing the five basic food senses in its dishes. Those five tastes are spicy, sweet, sour, salty and bitter. It’s a bit rich to place all of Thailand’s cuisine into one big blackened cooking pot because Thai food can be split into four regional cuisines. Northern, Isaan, Central and Southern.
Udon Thani Province is in the Isaan region of Thailand and its regional cuisine is heavily influenced by its deep-rooted ties to neighbouring Laos. If you think of Isaan food then sticky rice, fiery spicy salads and barbecued fish come to mind, and many of their dishes make heavy use of mint, lime juice and side plates of leafy salads and vegetables.
So how the hell did I end up in a fish and chip shop in Udon Thani city.
Sampan Fish and Chips – Udon Thani
Sampan Fish and Chips is the brainchild of Steve, former owner of Udon Thani’s best known bar the Irish Clock in Sampantamit Road, and he and his wife Mali have now set up shop two hundred yards away in the same popular nightlife soi a very short walk from Udon Thani’s Nutty Park. After enjoying a lark in the park after dark, what could be better than finishing your night off with fish and chips.
I can hear many of you moaning already about the need to consume fish and chips in Thailand when each tourist hotspot and provincial city has a wealth of those five food senses in every soi, shopping mall, market and street stall.
I’ve got a feeling I could take a ‘battering’ over this post but I can assure you my knotted handkerchief and union jack shorts were in my hotel room when I placed my order. And I do have a very good excuse for sampling the delights of Sampan’s fish and chip shop.
After a sweet night enjoying the spicy ambiance of Udon Thani’s nightlife my thoughts turned sour toward my impending flight home to England and the bitter days ahead (I couldn’t figure how to get salty in there). There are very few things I enjoy about life in England today but fish and chips is one of them and they taste so much better eaten from greaseproof paper rather than a restaurant plate.
Sampan’s Fish and Chip Bar turned out to be a slick, well vegetable-oiled family affair with everything in the shop clean, pristine and all the stainless steel equipment appeared to be high quality food grade standard. Steve’s brother-in-law played the role of Friar Tuck, and tuck in I did. Despite there being tables to eat-in, I ordered fish and chips to takeaway.
The fish in batter tasted as good as any I’ve bought in England and the chips weren’t too bad either. The price of 140 baht (£2.80 or $4.60) beat the UK by a long way and it really did taste as good as it looked. The fish is the Dory species, although Friar Tuck called it Dolly.
Dolly will be getting a big hello from me the next time I’m in Udon Thani and I can recommend Sampan’s fish and chip bar as an excellent place to visit. They also sell baguettes and sandwiches as well.
Fish and chip shops are not a common sight in Thailand, they are about, but mainly in the big tourist resorts. Now for the big question. Would you use a fish and chip shop if you stumbled upon one in Thailand, and if your answer is yes and the food was agreeable, would you become a regular customer?
Surely only a real sad bugger would go back a second time. I did the next night and the sausage in batter with chips was excellent too, and not bad value at 110 baht.
Sampan Fish and Chip Bar proved to me that sometimes you can get some good out of sadness.
Lots of salt and vinegar please.
Update – Sampan’s Fish and Chip Shop is now closed but Steve and Mali have installed the equipment into the Up 2 You Bar which is situated at the entrance to Nutty Park.
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