British fish and chips in Bangkok

Guppy’s,
7/8-7/9 Sukhumvit Soi 23,
Bangkok,
Tel: +66 2 000 5472

There had been a classic British chippy this address for as long as I can remember. Previously it had simply been called ‘Fish and Chips’ and it stood next door to a bar called ‘The Offshore’. The bar has gone now, it’s owners retired some time ago. The restaurant expanded, rebranded and came under new management. In the past it looked like a classic British chippy with the stainless steel deep fat fryer and take-away counter at the front and a small restaurant to the rear. Now the front boasts a semi al-fresco bar and dining area with an air-conditioned section at the back and a sports bar upstairs. The kitchen is out of sight.

I took an air-conditioned seat and studied the menu. There’s a lot more to choose from these days, Steaks, burgers, pasta and salads all make an appearance and there is a fairly comprehensive selection of local dishes as well. But while all those things are fairly common, good fish and chips is a rarity in Asia.

Guppy’s has actually changed it’s name several times since it was re-modelled although nothing much else changed. The fish and chip options on the menu are still called Codfather I, 2 and 3 after the restaurants previous name. The numbers indicating the size of the cut of cod. I ordered a Codfather I, the largest, an extra of mushy peas and a pot English tea. The extras section also offer bread and butter and pickled onions, I was very tempted but I had a suspicion that it would be too much.

The waitress took my order off to the kitchen and I took in the surroundings. Gone were the dreary plain walls and the tatty poster that read ‘Guinness is good for you.’ Now the only reference to its northern English ancestry are the factory like red brick walls and the Mediterranean style blue and white ceramic tiles that always did more to invoke the atmosphere of northern English chippies than they ever did the Mediterranean.

The regimental brickwork is punctuated with blackboards offering the days specials along with a Union Jack flag with “Fish and Chips” printed across the middle and a painting of a bottle of Sarson’s vinegar. The actual vinegar bottle is also on the table.

The food arrived on a round wooden tray at least most of it was on the tray. The fish, a tail piece was hanging slightly over the edge and I had to marshal it back on for the photo. The cod was firm and flaky encased in a crisp golden batter. The chips were piping hot, firm but fluffy and tasted of potato. A rare feat in a world dominated by French fries which are invariably limp strips of potato-like substance that taste only of salt and grease. The peas also had a nice consistency, just right for dunking chips into.

The meal is served with a generous tub of tartar sauce and a tub of salad. I shooed the salad away before the waitress had time to put it down. I’ve nothing against salad ordinarily it just doesn’t belong with fish and chips.

There are few desserts on the menu. Brownies and pancakes both served with ice cream, or just the ice cream on it’s own. I went for the pancake with strawberries and ice cream and promised myself an extra long session in the gym the following morning.

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