DUBLIN

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS | EATING OUT -

KI RAUDO SUSHI & BENTO

185 Townsend Street, Dublin 2, 01-5570728 ¤ With seat­ing for just 15 peo­ple, this tiny new Ja­panese restau­rant has moved into a some­what doomed lo­ca­tion. This premises seems to change hands ev­ery other week, never with any suc­cess. KiRaudo seems dif­fer­ent though. A com­plete facelift, ex­cel­lent staff, and the abil­ity to eat in, in com­fort­able – if cosy – sur­round­ings all help to make this look like a place that will stick. They clev­erly launched with just two menu items, giv­ing them a chance to find their feet. There’s a regular bento and a veg­e­tar­ian ver­sion. Both are ¤8.99. Both boxes in­clude a bowl (or take away con­tainer) of good miso, some fried gy­oza, a cou­ple of pieces of nori­maki, a hot main dish and a sec­ondary meat dish or salad. Ky­oto ribs were a lit­tle too fatty but the spicy sauce is good. A chicken kaarage (tasty morsels fried til the bat­tered coat­ing is nicely crispy) is good, although strangely served on a salad with mus­tard dress­ing. Stir-fried veg­eta­bles are re­ally good – fresh and still crisp and full of bite. A Thai-style veg­etable dish is too bland. Bet­ter to stick with the Ja­panese favourites.

A new menu launched this week, and in­cludes sushi, ra­men, some fried soba dishes and a cou­ple of cur­ries. As a nice touch, a green tea is given to ev­ery­one wait­ing for take-out, although we’re not sure how long that will last, con­sid­er­ing there was a queue to the door on our visit.

LUN­CHEONETTE

NCAD, 100 Thomas Street, Dublin 8, face­book.com/lun­cheonet­te­dublin € Lunch in the DIT Aungier Street can­teen in the 1990s usu­ally in­volved cheap cups of tea, a cou­ple of Marl­boro Lights (sorry folks) and if we were feel­ing flush, a plate of chips and gravy. High times in­deed. The stu­dents at NCAD have a much tastier op­tion in Lun­cheonette – a vaulted base­ment café, run by artist Jen­nie Mo­ran, whose light in­stal­la­tions brighten the sub­ter­ranean space. Along with Brazil­ian chef Wag­ner Dos San­tos, Mo­ran has cre­ated a cool lit­tle spot that still has the fran­tic starved-stu­dent may­hem dur­ing lunch hours, but is a re­lax­ing spot in be­tween (non stu­dents are wel­come). Open from 8.30am on week­days for break­fast (it closes at 3.45pm) the menu changes daily, but stal­warts in­clude pound cake (it’s a tangy lemon and thyme at the mo­ment, €2), a good serv­ing of por­ridge with cream, roasted hazel­nuts and honey (€2) and “com­pli­cated flap­jacks” (€1.70).

Lunchtime of­fer­ings gen­er­ally in­clude a cou­ple of sam­bos and a soup or salad. They’re stu­dent-friendly in bud­get, but a mil­lion miles from chips and gravy. There are some re­ally in­ter­est­ing flavours and ideas; Azer­bai­jani spinach and split pea soup with pomegranate and bulgar, €3 (col­lege-go­ing Rachel would have recog­nised about two of those in­gre­di­ents), roast free-range chicken cia­batta (€4) or a de­cently sized por­tion of spiced brown rice and mung bean salad thinly sliced radish, pis­ta­chio and co­rian­der (€3.50). A lovely, friendly lunchtime spot that could teach other col­lege can­teens a thing or two.

THE MEET­ING HOUSE

Meet­ing House Square, Tem­ple Bar, Dublin 2, 01 670 3330, the­meet­ing­house­dublin.com €€ Oc­cu­py­ing the long, tall dining room best known to Dublin­ers as the home of Eden (and lat­terly its off­shoot Nede), The Meet­ing House opened with­out much fan­fare late last year. It was ob­vi­ously sav­ing its en­ergy for the party it was throw­ing in­side. This is a brash, loud place to eat. They’ve com­pletely re­vamped the cool, laid­back dé­cor of Eden days. Now it’s very dark, the pol­ished con­crete has been painted red and black, with lots dra­matic art­work and a DJ is en­sconced in the mid­dle of the ac­tion. There’s a bar up­stairs - a Google party is in full swing on the night we visit – and there are lots of peo­ple par­ty­ing in the smok­ing area out­side. The food is a mish­mash of Burmese, Ja­panese and southeast Asian cui­sine. It’s served in large tapas-style por­tions. We’re told two or three per per­son will be am­ple. They’re ¤9.99 each, or there are of­fers for three (€27), four (€35) or six (€49). There’s lots to choose from – the veg­etable tem­pura is ex­cel­lent: wafer thin bat­ter, with as­para­gus, beet­root, ten­der stem broc­coli and a cit­rusy ponzu dress­ing. A prawn curry is mild, with lots of veg­eta­bles; Yel­low fin sashimi tacos are served in hard­shelled tacos, and while the tuna isn’t ac­tu­ally sashimi, it’s good and the tamarind dress­ing was tasty. A crab salad is the only dud. It’s poorly sea­soned, with strips of mango that added noth­ing but a slimy, wa­tery fin­ish. Best are the Burmese pork ribs, which dis­in­te­grate off the bone in a rich, sticky sriracha sauce - some of the best ribs any of us has tasted in Dublin. Sides in­clude brown rice and some heav­ily soyed wok-fried greens. This isn’t a spot for a quiet tete a tete – but for a group look­ing for a party at­mos­phere with some tasty plates and cock­tails (try the ly­chee and lemon­grass sour) it’s a good bet.

PHO VIET

162 Par­nell Street, Dublin 1, 01-8783165, phoviet.ie € A small Viet­namese restau­rant on Par­nell Street , this place spe­cialises in pho – a popular street food con­sist­ing of a light broth, rice noodles, chicken or beef (though you can of­ten get veg­e­tar­ian and seafood op­tions), with veg­eta­bles. The pho of­fer­ings at Pho Viet share the same light stock, and you add beef (€8.50), chicken (€8.50) or prawns (€10.50). The beef is a hearty op­tion, with a choice of four cuts of meat (you choose three, or all four for an ex­tra €1). They in­clude slices of brisket, rare sir­loin steak, flank steak or meat balls. The meat balls are small, dense and firm, noth­ing like their Ital­ian name­sake, while the brisket has been slow roasted and is melt-in-the­mouth. The flank can be tough, but the sir­loin is a good op­tion. Each bowl comes with a plate of ex­tras, such as mint leaves, lemon wedges, ex­tra chillis, bean sprouts and co­rian­der, and you mix un­til you’ve found the taste that suits you best. Banh Cuon (€7.50) a Viet­namese pan­cake made with rice flour is filled with prawn, pork and mush­rooms and then fried like a crepe. For a burst of fresh, crunchy good­ness, try the Goi cuon (€4 for two) a health­ier ver­sion of spring rolls, trans­par­ent rice pa­per roll served cold stuffed with chilled prawn, pork, ver­mi­celli noodles, mint and veggies and served with a tangy dip­ping sauce. The chicken wings (€7) are po­tent and very tasty – a lib­eral dose of tamarind in the sauce sets them apart from the bet­ter known Amer­i­can chicken wings.

SIMON’S PLACE

22 South Great Ge­orge’s Street, Dublin 2, 01-679 7821, face­book.com/ si­mon­splace­cafe € A long­time favourite of mu­si­cians, stu­dents, ac­tors, artists, stall hold­ers from Ge­orge’s Street Ar­cade and (on this rare oc­ca­sion, the word is war­ranted) an eclec­tic bunch of loyal cus­tomers, Simon’s Place is a Dublin in­sti­tu­tion on the cor­ner of Ge­orge’s Street and the ar­cade. With large win­dows look­ing in on the cafe, its walls plas­tered with old gig

posters, its wooden chairs and large communal ta­bles, there’s a great at­mos­phere and great mu­sic.

The menu is as con­sis­tent as the vibe – hon­est-to-good­ness doorstep sand­wiches, with old-school fill­ings, such as chicken, let­tuce, spring onions, tomato (€4.90 eat in). Or for the same price, swap out the chicken for egg, or ham, or tuna or cheese. Sal­ads come in half por­tions (€2.20) and three­and four-per-plate serv­ings (€5.90, €7.50) or try the Gen­eral Veg­etable soup (€4.50) – a hot bowl of good­ness that can help ban­ish the most stub­born of snif­fles. You’ll of­ten find gigs here in the evenings and you can ex­pect to queue at lunchtime. Make sure you leave room for one of the ridicu­lously good cin­na­mon buns (€2.20).

SIS­TER SADIE

46 Har­ring­ton Street, Dublin 8, 01-441 6596, sis­ter­sadie.ie € The lit­tle sis­ter to the un­stop­pable Brother Hub­bard jug­ger­naut over on Capel Street, Sadie moved into the Har­ring­ton Street premises va­cated by Café Tiesan and quickly made it her own, with some great in­te­ri­ors by De­sign-goat. Open for break­fast from 7.45am, the el­der sib­ling’s in­flu­ence is ev­i­dent in the menu (they’ve nicked his Turk­ish eggs, for one), but Sadie stands on her own two feet and you can get some proper por­ridge (as op­posed to pri­son slop) that comes with ex­tras such as toasted seeds and crys­tallised gin­ger, cream and honey, or ap­ple, berry and sweet gera­nium com­pote (€3.95). There’s a daily warm salad for lunch (served with sour­dough and hum­mus, €9.95), such as chick­pea with roast but­ter­nut squash, chard and poached eggs. The lunch meal deal (€9.95) is good value for the rav­en­ous, with a sambo, soup or salad box for main, with soup or salad for a side and a drink. There’s some se­ri­ously good co­conut and cit­rus cakes (€3.60), or go full-glut­ton and try the hot choco­late, which is pre­sented in two jugs; pour choco­late ganache from one and choco­late milk from the other and mix to your heart’s de­sire. Week­end brunch is the time to linger over those Turk­ish eggs men­e­men (€9.95), served from 10am to 4pm Satur­days and Sun­days.

TAP HOUSE

60 Ranelagh, Co. Dublin, 01-491 3436, tap­house.ie € The for­mer Rus­sell’s pub in the cen­tre of Ranelagh had a com­plete makeover about 18 months ago, emerg­ing as (yet an­other) craft beer house. It’s been do­ing well though and re­mains a busy spot in the cen­tre of the vil­lage. Ser­vice is ex­cel­lent, how­ever it’s painfully dark here in the evenings, with mood light­ing that just made us moody. Us­ing your mo­bile to il­lu­mi­nate the menu is tak­ing “at­mos­phere” a lit­tle too far. What we did de­ci­pher on the menu in­cluded slid­ers (€4 each, three for a ten­ner), small plates for €9 in­clud­ing pil pil prawns on cia­b­bata, meat­balls with tomato sauce, baby back ribs and slaw. Big plates (all €12) in­clude a good look­ing fishy ra­men; fish tacos were good with very large pieces of fresh had­dock, barely coated in a light bat­ter with spiced salsa in soft flour tor­tillas. Kev’s mussels (and not Kev’s mus­cles) were served with lots of rose­mary, habanero and sake (€9). A lit­tle dry but we sopped up as much of the sauce as we could with some left­over bread. The hit was a po-boy; the much-man­gled New Or­leans sand­wich of fried prawns in a soft roll with tomato, let­tuce and mus­tardy mayo (€12). This was very good - huge, per­fectly cooked prawns, a light, spicy bat­ter and fresh salad, with a bowl of well sea­soned ap­ple, fen­nel and red cab­bage slaw on the side. Al­most worth los­ing your eye­sight for.

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