Restau­rant re­view

Klaw Poké, 159 Capel Street, Dublin 1, Tel: 01-5560117;

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - Inside - Les­lie Wil­liams

CORK’S Oliver Plun­kett Street has been rightly C praised for the di­ver­sity of its shops and its char­ac­ter and I’ve been try­ing and fail­ing to think of a Dublin equiv­a­lent. It cer­tainly isn’t Capel Street which is prob­a­bly closer to North Main Street (ar­guably my favourite street in Cork thanks to its un­pre­dictabil­ity — I’ve picked up a cou­ple of first edi­tions in the char­ity shops there, not to men­tion a barely worn pair of Chelsea boots).

Capel Street too has its char­ity shops (Paul Smith Suit for €25 is my best find), and has al­ways had a strange mix of hard­ware, beauty and fur­ni­ture shops but re­cently it has also be­come an eth­nic food hot spot with Sichuan, Sushi, Filipino, Korean and Viet­namese res­tau­rants in be­tween nail bars, Louis Copeland and the sex shops. The ex­cel­lent Brother Hub­bard Café is ex­pand­ing into the old Gary Rhodes build­ing so watch that space also.

Klaw Poké is a sis­ter restau­rant to Klaw in Tem­ple Bar but the Capel Street out­post has a com­pletely dif­fer­ent feel — yes it is stripped back and bare-walled but it feels warmer and al­most lux­u­ri­ous in com­par­i­son. In ad­di­tion it seats 25 so you have a bet­ter chance at get­ting a seat.

The five of us be­gan with a dozen ‘naked’ oys­ters and could have cho­sen Kellys, Water­ford or Riverqueens but I opted for my cur­rent favourites — Flaggy Shore from West Clare. As al­ways they were lus­cious, fruity, briny and spank­ing fresh and worked par­tic­u­larly well with our Se­grel Al­bar­iño (€38).

Klaw’s Niall Sabongi (also a fish whole­saler) likes to keep things sim­ple and the drinks list re­flects this — a cou­ple of wines (Picpoul and Al­bar­iño), cock­tails and some craft beers — func­tional but ap­pro­pri­ate.

Hawai­ian Poké fish salad is the house spe­cial­ity and you can cre­ate your own with a base of rice, quinoa, noo­dles or leaves and choose be­tween oc­to­pus, salmon, crab, shrimp or lob­ster plus var­i­ous sauces, top­pings and ex­tra in­gre­di­ents such as kim­chi, nori, salty pineap­ple and macadamia nuts. We opted for the stan­dard Ahi Poké with chunks of fresh raw tuna, edamame beans, chucka wakame sea­weed, pick­led ginger, brown rice and Ponzu sauce.

The qual­ity of the tuna was ex­cel­lent but the Ahi Poké was far too dry and needed an ex­tra por­tion of Ponzu sauce to make it sing prop­erly.

The menu is large here with every type of shell­fish but flavours are kept very straight­for­ward. Old Bay Sea­son­ing is used ev­ery­where and while I like this clas­sic Bal­ti­more crab sea­son­ing in its retro yel­low pack­ag­ing there is a strong risk you will tire of its cel­ery salt, pa­prika and dried herb na­ture.

I’m prob­a­bly be­ing churl­ish in men­tion­ing this as Klaw Poké is com­fort food writ large and not to be taken too se­ri­ously. The fresh­ness of the seafood is deadly se­ri­ous but the way it is served won’t feel so and this is to be hugely wel­comed.

Mac and Cheese was clas­si­cally made with sticky unc­tu­ous cheese but the ad­di­tion of lob­ster (for €9.50 ex­tra) turned it into a lux­ury. Na­chos and Cheese as you might ex­pect with orange cheese and av­o­cado but throw on a gen­er­ous heap of fresh crab for €4.50 and you raise a sim­ple late night snack into some­thing else en­tirely.

For the clas­si­cists out there Prawns on skew­ers, Crab on Toast, wood­fire grilled prawns (called “When I was Six” re­call­ing Sabongi’s child­hood) and Jerk Crab are ex­actly as you would hope.

Crab Claws need crack­ing with a ham­mer, you get down and dirty with the whole crab by suck­ing out the meat while the juices drip down your chin.

Oc­toroast is oc­to­pus Span­ish style with lots of pa­prika and the usual house ac­com­pa­ni­ments of sam­phire and edamame beans. Oc­to­pus can be flabby and ooze rather slimy liq­uid if not done right but here it was firm and per­fectly tex­tured and it dis­ap­peared quickly.

Sim­plic­ity con­tin­ues with the dessert which in­cluded a sor­bet or grilled pineap­ple with a caramel but­ter­scotch sauce.

The ‘grilling’ is done at the ta­ble with a blow­torch and also worked just as well on peaches on a pre­vi­ous visit.

Klaw Poké is a fine idea and yes it is sim­ple but it all feels glo­ri­ously in­dul­gent, pri­mal and plea­sur­able.

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