A Hearty Meal Sailing with The Ship @ PJ Centerstage


I was brought up in a traditionally Chinese family; the kind that ate rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When I turned 7 years old, my dad, a great lover of steaks and all things meat, brought me to try my first Western meal at The Ship along Jalan Sultan Ismail. To a 7 year old, seeing the magnificent life sized ship's hull decorating the exterior of the restaurant was enough to convince the younger me that this was the best thing to ever exist. The realism was set when even the waiters and captain were decked out in full maritime uniforms.

It's been 19 years since that day I first walked into The Ship. Over the years, I've had a few opportunities to go back to The Ship with different sets of friends, family and more recently, even with my date for Valentine's Day.

The newest outlet in PJ Centerstage is a step away from the other The Ship outlets; the design is primarily a mix of the traditional and modern.

Much care was taken into making sure that while the interior had a more modern outtake; brighter and better lit spaces as compared to the other outlets, the traditional aspects that made The Ship such a household name remained untouched.

The wooden panels lining the walls, the port windows streaming bright sunlight into the restaurant and the massive steering wheel challenging people to take on the challenges ahead.

There is one thing that The Ship prides itself on; having The Best Steaks In Town. It's a bold claim to make, especially with the hundreds upon hundreds of restaurants which have opened up over the years. But the Ship doesn't only rely on its gimmick; something that most restaurants now employ in the age of instantaneous tweeting and Instagramming the most uniquely designed dishes.

The restaurant puts the utmost focus on the quality of the food served to its customers, a custom that began some 40 years ago when they first opened up their new restaurant.

As per Western meal customs, we each ordered an appetizer, followed by a main course and washed it all down with dessert. Mr Glen Frey, whom we later found out was the manager of The Ship PJ Centerstage, took our orders with a precision of a sea captain. This was a man who knew what he was doing; from the steaks to the lamb and the appetizers. He was always on hand to provide helpful suggestions of what to order and what would be good as pairings.

My dad, ever the overachiever when it comes to food, ordered up a storm and didn't stop until my mom looked up from her phone long enough to realize it was too late.

The appetizers


Many people dislike escargots because of its association to eating garden variety gastropods. I love it, especially when said snails are baked in an exquisite garlic sauce that not only complements the escargots, but enhances its taste.

Garlic toast

Using the same garlic sauce used for the escargots, the crunchy French loaf is carefully toasted to crispy perfection. Every bite makes you want even more.

French Baked Onion Soup

Very few people know this, but I absolutely adore onion soup, especially the French baked variety. The melted slice of cheese on the top complements well with texture of the soup, creating a burst of flavor that not many people can resist.

Thai Seafood Tom Yam

I managed one sip of this spicy broth before I had fire coming out of my mouth. Why Tom Yam in a Western restaurant, you ask? Well, like in ships, there are a variety of different nationalities on board. Having someone who can create something so spicy is definitely impressive on its own.

Indonesian Oxtail

If you have never had any prior experience with oxtail soup, The Ship is where you should start. Their thick, rich, gravy-like oxtail soup is amazing at whetting your appetite for the main course ahead.

The mains

With the Best Steaks In Town medal The Ship so proudly proclaimed, we had to try out their signature steaks for ourselves. Signature Rib Eye Steak was up first.

The meat was surprisingly tender and flavorful, each bite evoking memories of my first steak experience back in the day. I ordered my meat medium, and the pinkish hue was perfectly executed.

The Sirloin Steak, which my dad ordered was also up to standard. He likes his meat a bit on the rare side, so I only managed a few bites before I felt the cow's life force start ebbing within me.

Still, on an overall, I can say that their claim of "The Best Steaks In Town" is a claim well done (no pun intended)

Lamb is another big claim to fame by The Ship. The meat, which usually has a "lamby" smell and taste that turn most people off is properly taken care of through means of marinating the meat well before it is cooked.

And the result is amazing; tender, meat-off-bone lamb ribs which doesn't have the typical lamb smell. Even my mom, who is adversely affected by the taste of lamb, loved it enough to polish off a piece. If you want something easy to digest, the Roasted Rack of Lamb is a perfect fit. Else, the Grilled Premium Lamb Chop is something that will satisfy even the biggest eaters.

Midway through our lunch, the chef came out of the kitchen for a walkabout. Chef Tony, as he introduced himself to us, had been working at The Ship for the past 30 years. A cordial man with an infectious smile, he asked us if the meal was to our liking.

That smile widened even further when we complimented him on a delicious lunch. "It makes me so happy when people enjoy the food I cook," he told us before excusing himself and returning to his duties.

The dessert

Mississippi Mud Brownie

The Mississippi Mud Brownie may not be named after the famous dance, but it will definitely get your feet tapping. A moist chocolate brownie heated to absolute perfection, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to top it all off. My second dessert stomach growled in anticipation for what would prove to be an amazing after meal treat.

Chef Tony reappeared as we were sipping our coffees. By this time, it was late afternoon and the restaurant was fairly quiet, with only a few other families mulling around the tables. Chef Tony, with his ever affable smile, again asked us how our meal was. We were running out of words to describe 'delicious'.

Then he began to talk candidly about the food, and you remember, yes, the food. It's what makes The Ship stand out from the rest, he said, gazing at the large picture of a nineteenth century shipping vessel hanging on the wall. It was one of several dotting the walls resembling the interior of an actual ship, a welcome change of pace from the usual store-bought bouquets and fruit baskets.

"Our food," he began in earnest, "We make sure it's cooked exactly how our customers like it." He paused, a twinkle in his eye, "And that's why our regulars always come back for more." The regulars he was referring to include people who have been dining at The Ship since its opening days in Jalan Sultan Ismail, which have since branched out into Petaling Jaya, Damansara Jaya and Penang.

"Would you like some more dessert?" Chef Tony asked offhandedly. We declined politely. As good as the food was, we had reached our limit. He nodded understandingly. "We have small stomachs, unlike the mat sallehs." Ah, how chefs know the truth about their customers.

We sat and chatted for a while more before Chef Tony retreated back into the kitchen to perform his duties. Before leaving, he told us something incredibly profound; "Recipes have no souls, but we've been taught here at The Ship by Mr. Foo Hee Hoon (one of the founders of The Ship) that it is up to us to put the soul into the recipes."

For me, that one single quote summed up our entire experience at The Ship on that quiet Sunday afternoon. It was obvious from the quality of the food that the chefs at The Ship was definitely putting in the soul to their food, which has allowed it to retain a timeless taste.

After all, it's all about the food.

More information on The Ship @ PJ Centerstage Section 13 below:

PJ Centrestage, Unit G-01, Ground Floor, No. 1, Jalan 13/1, Seksyen 13, 46100 Petaling Jaya.

Tel : 
603 7931 0078

Business Hour: 
Daily (11.00 am to 11.00 pm)


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