Fish and Chips in Udon Thani

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.

UpdateSampan’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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I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

14 Responses

  1. Lawrence says:

    Haven’t had much time for blog-reading recently, Martyn. This made me realise what I’ve been missing. No, not fish and chips, but your puns and other wordplay. A really good read, but not quite enough to make me head off to the nearest chippy (not so far away, in fact). Thanks for several good smiles.

  2. Martyn says:

    Lawrence I didn’t realise there were any puns or wordplay in the post…..honestly…..well maybe one or two.

    Of course your diet will be keeping you out of the chippy, that’s unfortunate if you ask me. How about flattening your nose against the window and having one big drool.

    Thanks for the read and positive comment.

  3. Kris says:

    Most enjoyable blog Martyn. Steve and Mali seem like good “salt” of the earth people and looking at the photo’s they are certainly not “floundering” about. I guess they did not have to “mussel” in on another fish and chip shop either. I am however, rather concerned for the battered fish. Could let me know if any thought has been given to organising a “Pier” support group for them or at least, being battered fish, a “beer” support group?………..Kris

  4. Martyn says:

    Kris maybe you should write my posts for me because there’s plenty of talent in your comment. How the hell I missed ‘salt of the earth’ out of my post I don’t know. Battered fish home would be a good one too.

    Thanks for the read and great comment.

  5. Mike says:

    Martyn what can I say? No Union Jack tee shirts on Friar Tuck then? Hardly Whitby but each to his own, like Lawrence I doubt I will be in the chippy in August although the pies at the City Ground may be sampled.

    Just need a new umbrella now that Steve is there 😉

    Not sure about UK grub in Thailand, bit like trying to get something remotely Thai in the UK. I guess there is a market for expats, are there enough in Udon to make it a decent business?

  6. Martyn says:

    Mike I’d have put you down as a big fish and chip fan, you disappoint me on that one.

    I think you’re right about UK food in Thailand, most of it doesn’t taste quite right but the fish and chips I had tasted just like those back home.

    Mac is back in English football at Forest. He’s a good coach, not just a ‘fair weather’ one. He and Forest need to get off to a good start or else the pressure will be on from the UK press.

    Udon Thani has a lot of expats, mainly due to the Province’s lasses taking professional jobs in Bangkok and Pattaya. Steve, the chippy owner, has already put together two successful bars in Udon and I think he will have put a lot of research into this new venture. I think it might work but its location is not really spot on for tourists to find if only staying one or two nights in the city.

  7. Catherine says:

    “Now for the big question. Would you use a fish and chip shop if you stumbled upon one in Thailand”.

    Not any longer. I recently discovered what doesn’t like me – carbs. And both the fish and the chips are dripping in them. Fat, I can take. Carbs, cannot.

    (I had to smile over the salt of the earth comment 🙂

  8. Martyn says:

    Catherine I’ve often wondered how Thailand’s heat and humidity play’s on the recommended calorie intake per day compared to colder countries. Surely in Thailand people must burn off fat far quicker than a place like the UK.

    Carbs (ie potato) are the western khao.

  9. Talen says:

    Martyn, greetings from the fish and chips capital of Thailand. I never understood the whole fish and chips thing until I started coming to Thailand and now I quite enjoy a good fish and chip meal now and again.

    Been a few fish and chip shops closing lately too…while they have a captive audience there are too many for the custom.

  10. Martyn says:

    Talen when I used to visit Pattya regularly there was only one fish and chip shop I knew of, that was in Soi Buakhao. I can imagine they caught on quite quickly. A ‘slimming’ down of them may lead to the better quality ones surviving.

  11. Catherine says:

    Martyn, it’s the reverse. We burn off calories faster in a cold climate because our bodies expend energy trying to keep warm.

    That’s why, when I go to Scotland, I eat scones (not big on scones). And that’s why the Scots eat anything they can deep fry like pizza and Mars bars and…

  12. Martyn says:

    Thanks Catherine, you’ve just reminded me why I must visit Scotland one day. I’ve got to try a deep fried Mars bar in crispy golden batter.

  13. Snap says:

    Martyn, if I didn’t already have stomach trouble, I would now. Not a big fan of fish and chips, even in fish and chip country. Hey, strange opening and closing hours…perhaps honing on those on their way home from the rubbedy dub? Not bad prices though!

  14. Martyn says:

    Snap I hope your stomach troubles aren’t too bad, mine are worse. I’ve got to stomach another night shift in three hours time. Still it’s the last one, then two lovely nights off.

    I believe the opening hours are wrong. I was told the chippy opens at nine in the evening and shuts whenever. Perfect times for the rubbedy dub.

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