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The Royal Oak: An Overlooked Bangkok Pub

Once upon a time, there was a popular pub in Bangkok with truly loyal patrons that flocked there for sporting events and nightly specials. Then an argument about rent led the pub proprietor to leave town and join an all lady boy circus (cannot be confirmed), either indefinitely or until his baht ran out. No, KohSpot speaks not of The Pickled Liver but of The Bull’s Head.

The Royal Oak has subsumed the location of The Bull’s Head and almost everything else about that pub. The layout, décor, menu and specials have not changed, as far as we can tell. The only thing that has change is the clientele, as some of the old regulars have been tardy in wetting their beaks at Ye Olde Drinking Hole. And that’s a shame, because for all its faults, The Royal Oak has some damn fine food and some of the best beer in Bangkok. Jing Jing.

KohSpot makes no secret of its affinity for India Pale Ale. But since Bangkok has none, the closest substitute we’ve located is the draft O’Hara’s Irish Pale Ale (220 baht for a pint) available at Royal Oak. This is a beautiful amber hoppy libation that well justifies the pricetag for those keen for a taste of the bitter, and is KohSpot’s favorite beer in Thailand.

If anything, the food’s actually improved. Pub grub will never be confused for haute cuisine, but the Ploughman’s lunch (280 baht) at The Royal Oak couldproudly be served at the dirtiest of London hovels. Generous slices of ham, a thick chunk of English cheddar, a giant pickled onion, pickle relish, apple wedges, beets, salad, chutney, warm, crusty bread and butter and some type of pork pie. This dish exceeded our expectations and might have helped The Royal Oak dethrone The Londoner as king of this category. The ham, eggs and chips could also stop a charging bear’s heart. It’s that good.

Sunday’s Toss the Boss (flip a coin to see if you have to pay for your drink) was probably the most beloved of The Bull’s Head specials and it remains in effect, as does 2-for-1 cocktails on Thursday, Wednesday pub night with Lee Shamrock and Tuesday grill night. Happy hour occurs daily from 4-8 pm and 11:30 pm to close. The music focuses on British and punk hits, as it should.

If we had one complaint about The Bull’s Head, it was that there never seemed to be that many Thais there, other than the staff and expat girlfriends, and folks there seemed to like it that way. Let’s hope The Royal Oak breaks tradition on this one point and sets its own course.

The Royal Oak
Location: 595/10-11 Sukhumvit Soi 33/1, about 30 meters past the Robin Hood at the bak soi on the right-hand side.
Mass Transit: BTS Phrom Pong
Hours: 10am-midnight daily
Phone: 02-662-1650
Website: www.facebook.com/royaloakthailand

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