What’s up, reader? How’s your Sunday going? Good, I hope. My name’s Seven—weekly contributor to BKKNites and gogo hound-about-town.
I don’t know about you, but even though life in Thailand beats living anywhere else on the planet, I do occasionally get a yearning for authentic food from the West. But since the thought of moving back to what is rapidly becoming an Orwellian police state is out of the question, the next best thing is what I like to call “Eurocompensating”—getting a belly full of food from various European nations here in the multicultural culinary (multiculticulinary for short, copyright BKK7) trove of Bangkok. Today’s offering kicks off a series that will cover some of the places around town where a post-Euro expat (or anyone, really) can get a taste of home, starting with those two neighboring islands off the coast of the continent.
Disclaimer: In our endeavor, we will not come close to hitting all of the relevant restaurants in this sprawling city. In fact, as I’m averse to traveling more than 15 minutes from my apartment, what follows will be a poor effort indeed to adequately cover all the eateries that deserve a mention, and for that, I humbly apologize. Now, let’s get stuck in…
When it comes to English fare, Bangkok is spoiled for choice. Throw a rock in any direction and you’re liable to hit a UK-themed pub. But how many of them serve authentic British food? Most offer a mix of tourist-friendly dishes with a handful of Thai items sprinkled into the menu. I myself have tried out the Royal Oak and The Red Lion. Got a burger at the Oak, and Smith’s fish and chips at the Lion. The burger was—in most respects—a culinary reminder of the burgers I used to get in places like Yates’ in England. And the fish and chips gave me clear flashbacks of Camden, where it comes wrapped inside a section of folded-up newspaper. And I must say, the chips were the best I’ve had in Bangkok. They were the thickest chips I’d ever encountered, and had a sweet-savory-ness that made me think they’d been basted in butter. And the fish, as I said, reminded me of London.
At the risk of offending both Irish and English readers, I personally get my best “English” food from Shenanigan’s Irish Sports Bar and Pub in Patpong. Let me explain.
As an American, my ability to discern the difference between traditional Irish food and traditional English food is diminished. I did live in England for a year, and took a road tour around the Ring of Kerry in 2008, but it wasn’t enough to become an expert on the differences in their menus, aside from the cliché stuff. So when I have a meal at Shenanigan’s, I mentally equate it with food I ate in both countries. For example, in my American mind, a meat pie is a meat pie. I understand that they can be different. An Aussie pie is not the same as a UK pie. But I don’t know the difference, so when I have one in Shagz, my brain says “English food.” It’s the same with their breakfast. Back-bacon, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, black and white pudding. Yeah. That’s English to me. Same with the Sunday roast. When I lived in the UK I was introduced to that tradition. There was a pub on the High Street called The George, and I’d go every week to fill up my plate and find a seat near the fireplace. It was like having Christmas dinner every Sunday. And the roast at Shagz comes pretty close to replicating that experience.
What I love about Shenanigan’s is their culinary bravery. They didn’t stop at making roasts, pies, lamb shanks, and full-English breakfasts. Thanks to an epiphany of the owner’s missus, they also make “British style” Chinese food. For the full experience, order from their sister restaurant—The Golden Bowl. And if you’re at Shagginz and you fancy UK Chinese fare, try the sweet and sour chicken balls, the salt-chili wings, and the spare ribs. What’s more, these mofos also do doner kebabs—the kind I used to find in my bed, half-eaten, on Sunday mornings after a night of drinking in England.
And of course, there are the burgers. The first time I had a burger in Europe, it was almost an out-of-body experience. Euroburgers are not like the ones we have in America. They look similar, but in terms of flavor, texture, toppings, bun, cheese, source of bacon, etc., it’s akin to that Star Trek episode where everyone’s got a doppelganger with a mustache and goatee, although a Euroburger isn’t “evil” per se. Just………different. And I grew to like them whilst living there. Shag’s has a few on their menu. I prefer the Guinness Burger. And just this last Saturday, I tried their cottage pie—a dish that typically doesn’t agree with my Yankee sensibilities, and I have to say, I rather enjoyed it. I was reminded of my English ex-girlfriend’s mum’s homemade cottage pie back in Essex.
A couple of other places worthy of mention are Zinc101 and The Oasis. I’ve not been to the former, as it’s too far out of my travel range, but our own Jack Nites goes there all the time and he highly recommends their breakfast and burgers. He says they’re on par with the food he used to eat back in his home country of England. I’ve been to the Oasis, but only for their full English, and I have to say I loved it, especially when paired with a bloody mary. When I go back there, I plan to try one of their pies, based purely on Jack’s suggestion. I trust his judgment.
At the risk of pissing off those better-informed readers who know about the slew of other restaurants I’ve failed to mention, I’m just going to sort of give up and stop writing this blog, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to Stumble Inn, whose English breakfast and burgers are just sublime. If I lived closer, I’d probably go there every day and weigh 300 pounds.
Since we’ve only scratched the surface, let me throw it to you. Tell us about your favorite spots in the comments, and be sure to include your fave menu items. Subsequent articles will be easier, as the number of places in town narrow a bit by country. Speaking of, here are the nations we plan to cover over the next few weeks: France, Spain, Germany, Greece, and Russia. And after that, we’ll tackle other Western countries not connected to the European continent, like the US, Australia, Mexico, and Canada. Just kidding about that last one.
If you’d like to peruse a pictorial spread of the foods described above, and also get an update on recent goings on in Patpong, you can pop over to my site and get an eyeful: http://patpongnightlife.com/2021/03/21/eurocompensating-in-bkk-pictorial-england-and-ireland-plus-patpong-update/
Until next time, keep your beer cold, your pie hot, and cheers to enjoying the comfort foods of home while living the dream in paradise. Cheers.