Archive for October, 2013

Oriental Jackpot at Jervis Stop

I’m STUFFED. STUFFED. For a fiver!

Garwin Liu, the guy from Facebook who told me about the Star Pizza place on Talbot Street that I did a few weeks ago, came up with the venue for today’s feed. He was responding to my whinge about restaurants on Parnell Street having two menus, one usually in Chinese and he suggested that I go to the Oriental Emporium at the Luas Jervis stop on Abbey Street where I could just point. So that’s what I did.

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I had been in this place before, and its cousins in South Great George’s Street (not sure it’s still there), the one in Rathmines and, just because I was driving past it, the one in Rathcoole. All offer a phenomenal range of goods, from fish, to all sorts of vegetables, meat, tinned goods, sauces, rice, noodles, fruit, and so on. The smell of them alone is likely to get your juices running. And if you attempt (as I sometimes do) to cook something oriental but don’t want to use the over-sweetened crap that comes from supermarket sachets, then a visit to one of these shops or the Asia Market on Drury Street is a must.

Anyway, as I say, I had been in here before but I didn’t notice or pay attention to the fact that it had a hot food counter.

Hard to miss …

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… but there you go.

Various signs indicate the different types of food on offer and slap bang in the middle of them is one saying “Hot Food €5”. Unambiguous.

I asked the helpful man behind the counter what I could get for my fiver and he indicated the section of the massive selection of dishes from which I could choose three. I pointed to three ones I liked the look of and he put a generous spoonful of each into a plastic container. I said I wanted to eat in (most people I saw subsequently took their food away) and he gave me another container of rice and a pair of disposable chopsticks.

My fiver paid over, I found myself a seat. There isn’t a huge seating area: 8 seats around two tables. Each table had a selection of condiments, a box of tissues and this sign …

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… fair enough.

My food …

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… comprised belly of beef with mooli (or daikon), aubergine with minced pork, and pak choi with ginger.

The beef was absolutely gorgeous: rich, almost like oxtail, and tender. The aubergine was soft and unctuous. And the pak choi still slightly crunchy, tempered with the taste of fresh ginger. There was lots of it. And I ate it ALL …

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This seems to be a popular place both for grocery shopping and for buying prepared food. There is a huge selection of dishes both hot and cold so it’s a place for possible culinary exploration. And it’s great value. Try it. Do.

Garwin (and a bloke who calls himself Benjamin L Willard and who went to school with the big lad) also suggested another place nearby: Han Sung on Great Strand Street just opposite the National Hyperbaric Centre, the location of which I’m sure you’re familiar with. If you’re not, Great Strand Street runs parallel to Abbey Street, closer to the quays. This is the place …

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Again, it’s a shop, with a food counter at the back. A lot more seats and an interesting range of Korean, Japanese and Chinese food. All from about €5.50, so just above my budget but, judging from the number of people eating there and the heaps of food being consumed, excellent value.

 

So, it’s Hallowe’en.

 

Woooooooo!

 

 

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Wok Station on Parnell Street

My knowledge of the Chinese language (or indeed any of the languages spoken in Asia) is, sadly, poor. When I say poor, I mean non-existent. On most days, this lack doesn’t matter much. I get by. Today, however, it was a bit of an issue.

It’s my impression that several of the restaurants on Parnell Street have two menus: one English language menu with the standard ‘Chinese Restaurant’ fare, catering for western tastes and the other, often in Chinese script, with, I’m kind of assuming, the more authentic (and more interesting) regional offerings.

If you happen to pop in to one when business is slow, you can maybe go through the various options in some detail to get an idea of what’s in offer. On the other hand, when you go in at lunch time and there’s a queue, and few staff, and you’re only going to spend a fiver, you kind of feel that it wouldn’t be fair to either the staff or the other customers to take up everybody’s time asking too many questions.

So, you tend to either drift towards the familiar or, as happened today (where there wasn’t actually a menu at all), you are respectfully directed towards the westernised dishes.

I was in Parnell Street with the older lad today, hoping to try out the Dan Dan Noodles in Sichuan (sic) House, as suggested in a Facebook message by Garwin Liu, who has a keen eye for the fiver deals in various parts of the city. Sichuan House has since closed, we discovered, so undeterred, we wandered along Parnell Street in the rain looking for other options.

Wok Station is at the junction with North Cumberland Street.

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There are no menus or prices on display outside so we went in speculatively.

It’s a bright, clean and quite sizeable space, with seats for about 24 or more at a guess. A counter with pre-prepared food takes up one wall. There must have been about 18 dishes on display, 8 or so of which were familiar looking: variations on a theme with pork, chicken, beef, tofu and (unusually) lamb. These were the ones we were directed towards. The ones on the left included chicken feet, fish, various types of vegetables, duck eggs, pancakes and, I think, seaweed. There just wasn’t enough common language or time really to explore all the options especially, as I said above, if all we were about to spend was a fiver each and as a small queue was beginning to form behind us.

Probably a little wimpily, we ordered from the familiar dishes. Food to eat on the premises and to take away costs the same. For your fiver, you get plain rice and two dishes, or two portions of the same dish. If you opt for fried rice, the meal costs €6. With noodles, it’s €6.50, I think.

The older lad chose spicy chicken in batter and a lamb dish

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while I chose pork and tofu, and the same spicy lamb.

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Good size portions. Certainly enough for both of us. The food wasn’t that hot temperature-wise so you wouldn’t really want to linger over your lunch. It was tasty though. Both of us enjoyed the lamb best. It was spicy, with peppers and a discernible taste of cumin seeds. I enjoyed my pork and tofu dish too. The pork was tender and the sauce was OK. The least favoured dish was the chicken which didn’t really taste of much at all.

The older lad. Looking pleased.

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As we were finishing up, a bunch of students from DIT on Mountjoy Square came in. Some of them obviously regulars, they were greeted warmly. It’s a regular Friday haunt for them, one told us. Fair enough.

I’d be dead keen, outside the eatforafiver restrictions, to explore fully what the different restaurants on Parnell Street have to offer in terms of authentic food from different parts of China, Korea and other countries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wexford Kevin Cuffe Nexus

More of a listing this time. (As ever, my poor quality photos get bigger when you click them. They remain poor quality, however.)

I had some things to do in town today and, as I now do, I was having a look at menus in windows. A sandwich board, tucked in a doorway caught my eye …

KSBsandsign

A tiny bit misleading as it turned out but interesting enough to investigate.

It was in the doorway of this place …

KSBname

… at the corner of Wexford Street and Kevin Street.

So, it turns out that this deal is for students only, with a card of course. Still, considering that it refers to this menu

ksbmenu2

that’s pretty good. BETTER STILL is the fact that this …

KSBfiverfriday

… happens on Friday. For EVERYBODY, not just students. Haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t comment on the food but I’d say it’s worth a go.

Across the road is …

Sofia

… which has been there for a long time. It, too, does student offers …

Sofiastudentsp

… and for those of us ineligible for those, there’s the Sofia Breakfast …

sofiamenu

… and, if you’re feeling flush, a few other choices for a few more Euro.

Two doors down is Burritos and Blues…

IMG_0852

already written about in pretty glowing terms here. Although its Student Burrito is now just over a fiver at €5.50, it still does a Diet Burrito for €4.15.

Around the corner, in Kevin Street, is this place:

Goose

Not a huge selection for your fiver but, if you’re fond of omelettes, you’re in luck, and students get a general 10% discount:

Goosemenu

And then, just along from there, is Hot Chilli …

HotChilli

… with a burger and chips for under a fiver (sorry, I can’t remember exactly how much it is).

There you are now. Enough said. Knock yourselves out.

 

 

 

 

Ephesian Revelation

The real Ephesus seems to have been a pretty significant place. Inhabited from about 6000 BCE, it developed from the Bronze age onwards, and throughout history it has been a seat of learning, political intrigue, evangelism and architecture. It’s now a tourist hot spot.

The Capel Street one appears to be suffering some sort of an identity, or at least branding, crisis. The last time I saw it, it was VERY definitely called Ephesus, in big red letters. Now it’s called Ephesus in small white ones, and the ‘Capel Kebab and Pizza House’ in big white ones.

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Whatever. It’s been on my mental list of eatforafiver places to visit for ages and so it got done today.

Most things on the menu are a fiver or just a little bit more, as you can see (as ever, click to embiggen) …

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And there’s this …

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The item that intrigued me most was the Turkish Pizza (Lahmacun) just because I’d never heard of it before. It wasn’t available unfortunately. The main man behind the counter (who was most welcoming and friendly) said that it may be available sometime after Christmas. I suspect it’s not a big seller. The other item that caught my eye was the Ayran which is a Turkish yoghurt drink with salt, a little like the Indian lassi. They didn’t have any of that either. No matter.

I chose the Falafel, in the Kebab section. I was told it included some salads and flat bread and was invited to take a seat. The warming process complete, I was asked to choose which salads I wanted (I took the lot) and was handed my plate of food.

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There it is. That’s a pretty sizeable feed for a fiver. Six warm falafels, shredded lettuce, non-mayonnaise slaw, shredded red cabbage, sliced tomatoes, sliced onion, a couple of pickled chillies, and some garlic and chilli sauce. With the promised flatbread.

The salad items were crisp and fresh and the flatbread was warm and soft. I’ve eaten quite a few falafels over the last few years but I wouldn’t consider myself to be an expert on them. These ones were OK. They were crispy on the outside and had a pleasant consistency inside. Yer man in Dublin Falafel Hunt rated the falafels in Ephesus pretty highly and he eats them all the time, so I’m not going to be at all judgemental about them.  For a fiver, this was a decent plate of food and that’s what this is all about.

It seems to be a pretty popular place. I was there just after half one and there were about 10 people in it with a few more drifting in when I was there. It’s bright and clean, with big windows on two sides through which you can watch the world go by. The man and woman behind the counter were kept busy. I left, full, satisfied and with a pleasant chilli tingle on my tongue. This place is a good option if you’re at that end of Capel Street (it’s at the junction with Upper Abbey Street), you’re hungry and you only have a fiver to spend.

 

So …

Sad to say, one of the places I ate in not too long ago, Flavor (sic) on Camden Street has closed. I have a hunch that it never quite identified its market. Pity.

 

And for students: just around the corner from Capel Street, on Ormond Quay, is quite a new Brazilian place …

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I seem to remember this used to be an art gallery. It’s HUGE, has a buffet lunch offer …

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… and, if you’re a student (and have your student card on you), it seems as if you can stuff your face for a fiver. The buffet is downstairs and the queue for it today was massive.

 

Finally: question of the day. You see this woman on the right …

Sabina Coyne

She’s married to President Higgins and her name is Sabina Coyne.  Or rather, her name WAS Sabina Coyne. Since her husband became President, she’s almost universally referred to as Sabina Higgins. What’s that all about?

 

 

 

OK. So the title is unnecessarily alliterative. Sorry. But I couldn’t resist.

I mentioned Staple Foods before. It’s at Merchant’s Arch which, as I’m sure you know, is the archway (and alley) that leads from the south end of the Ha’penny Bridge to Temple Bar.

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Kevin, the bloke who owns and runs it, has a good eye: for colour, design, typography and, judging by the browsing material available, street art. He’s put together a nice idea here. It’s simple and straightforward: a clean, bright, small premises, serving a small selection of tasty, healthy foods, good coffee (he’s a trained barista), and a few other interesting items such as DBKB, a detoxifying Kombucha, brewed in Dublin.

The food offerings are a simple mix of protein (pulled pork, shredded duck, chicken or baked falafel), a slaw (there’s a few choices ‘made from freshly chopped or shredded fruit and veg, mixed with flax, pumpkin and sesame seeds … dressed in a non-dairy dressing’), and some leaves (baby spinach and rocket). You can have this served in a box (one of those nice chinese food ones) or on some locally baked 5 seed bread.

Blackboards both inside and outside the (not sure what term to use … I’ll go for deli) deli helpfully suggest complementary combinations (is there no end to my alliterative creations?) in colourful stencilled letters.

I ordered this …

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… as a salad and handed over my fiver.

This is what I got …

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My photo (surprise, surprise … I’m pretty close to the top of the league of crap photographers) doesn’t really represent any of the essential visual qualities of the food – quantity, colour or yumsciousness. Look at Staple Food’s Facebook photostream if you want a good representation of the food on offer and the interior of the deli. The photostream also contains a seriously awesome picture of different coloured beets.

This is healthy food. But it’s not boring, tasteless, healthy food that makes you feel like you’re being punished for something you did wrong*. This is freshly made, tasty, healthy, filling food. Food for people who like food. And it only costs a FIVER. A FIVER.

I’ll return to Staple Foods. I want to try their pulled pork, And probably their duck. Maybe even their chicken, too.

Seriously, if you’re in the vicinity with a fiver in your pocket, try it out. Have a chat with Kevin too. He’s a nice bloke.

 

(*Reminds me of one of my favourite Phil Dunphy quotes from Modern Family: ‘Why do I have to watch a French movie? I didn’t do anything wrong’.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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