Sharples Traditional UK Chip Shop is leaving its Soi Buakhao base after less than a year in the popular Tree Town beer and bar complex. Owner Shaun Sharples said, “Our current location has served its purpose, but I need a proper fish and chips restaurant with inside seating, a pleasant interior and aircon.” The new headquarters will be in Soi New Plaza, which runs between Soi Buakhao and Second Road. The premises are currently called Frydays, but the owner has apparently returned to Europe for health reasons. A major renovation is in progress, with a soft opening date sometime in the new year.
Shaun, whose UK family members also have substantial experience in the frying-tonight business, was originally advised by local contacts last year that Pattaya already had enough outlets selling fish and chips, seven hundred at the last count. Shaun was not disheartened. “None of them were dedicated chip shops like you see in the UK. The cooks here often weren’t aware of complexities such as the exact temperature of the oil, the differences between types of potato, the importance of sea salt and real vinegar, or why Dory is a poor substitute for cod or haddock. Terms such as beer batter, double-cooked chips or mushy peas were seldom even understood, let alone implemented.”
His novel approach worked exceedingly well and, within weeks, his product was almost universally praised in social media as “the best in Pattaya”. In recent months, he has expanded to offer his menu in a dozen or so bars and offers a full service at Bentley’s restaurant in Jomtien’s Pratumnak district. Shaun has also blown apart the myth that fish and chip fans are always British tourists or expats. Some of the best customers are Russians – currently returning to Pattaya in big numbers thanks to U-tapao provincial airport opening up again to charter flights – whilst a Shaun-related Pattaya Mail article last June has been translated online into both French and German.
Pattayans have long had a love affair with fish and chips from the 1990s. Former outlets include Simons, The Jolly Friar and Punch and Judy, all of which closed for a miscellany of unconnected reasons. But some non-specialist restaurants, such as The Caddy Shack in South Pattaya and the Beach Club at Bang Saray, have also acquired a fine reputation for the product which stands good today. Whilst the dish booms in Pattaya, many fish and chip chops in the UK are threatened with closure thanks to rising costs of electricity and ingredients. The average cost of a sitdown plateful there is about fourteen pounds (nearly 600 baht) compared with less than half that sum here. Thank Cod It’s Friday.