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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.