Archive for the ‘ Oriental ’ Category

Banh Mi x 2 @ Pho Saigon

I have Garwin Liu to thank again for his tireless exploration of eating places north of the Liffey.

This time it was Amiens Street, just under the bridge and opposite Sheriff Street where I spent two pre-Christmases a long time ago pretending to be a postal worker.

The venue was Pho Saigon,

outs

and Tim B …

Tim Outside

… came along to sample the heady delights of eatingforafiver.

I’ve known Tim since he was a mischievous pre-adolescent and it’s safe to say that my pre- and early teen years would not have been so adrenaline filled had I not lived around the corner from him in Stepaside. From amateur demolition works on the Ballyogan Road, to gaining ‘free entry’ into Pat Quinn’s Club, to sending a string of taxis to a nearby housing estate, and phoning people with unusual names … well, I could go on but I won’t.

I shall also forever associate Tim with music, both for his meticulously kept lists of Top 20 hits, books of lyrics and for the rather innocent discos held in his house at which I always ended up with the same girl (I’m not complaining, you understand: she was gorgeous) dancing to Bridge Over Troubled Water but not quite managing to say anything to her.

It was Tim’s meticulous organisational ability that no doubt contributed to him becoming a rather significant figure in market research in the Far East for some time. Anyway, retired (!) and partnered up, he’s kind of at a loose end now (normally residing in Thailand) and our lunching was made possible by a short visit to Ireland to see his ma and her Labradors.

Pho Saigon opened about 3 months ago according to the nice man behind the counter (who I guessed by his enthusiasm is the owner).

ins sign

It opens from 12 noon to about 10pm and is spotlessly clean. It wasn’t full (a bit of an understatement) but those who were eating were doing so with some relish.

There’s not a huge choice for a fiver. Well, actually, we were limited to the Banh Mi (the anatomy of which you’ll remember was described here) and a drink = the ‘Lunch Special Offer’ = €5.

I might need to relax the strict fiver thing soon. For not too much over a fiver in Pho Saigon, there’s a pretty good choice, as you’ll see if you click on the menu …

menu

The Banh Mi (no idea what the plural is) arrived soon. Actually, we were deep in chat so I haven’t a clue how long they took. Quick enough anyway.

BanMi

The first thing we noticed was that the rolls were fresh. Pleasing. Inside were slices of pork, chilli, coriander leaves and grated carrot.

insroll

They hadn’t gone heavy on the pork. A little more (of everything) would have been better, but for a fiver, including a can and considering these were made on the spot, they were OK value. Tasty too. You never know with chillis whether slices of raw ones are going to blow your head off. These ones didn’t and I suppose there’s quite a lot of bread in a Banh Mi to dilute the capsaicin. Lots of fresh coriander too, which I love.

Oh yeah, here’s Tim stuffing his face:

Tim stuffing face

So … clean, new, enthusiastic owner, pretty good value (better if you spend over a fiver), freshly made Banh Mi. If you’re in the area (just turn left at the bottom on Talbot Street) this is a good and more healthy alternative to the pizza and chips offerings around the corner.

Tim paid. Thanks Tim. I lost the receipt.

We repaired thereafter to The Gin Palace on Middle Abbey Street and spent the rest of the afternoon in the company of pints. (Just in case there are any people associated with my work reading this, I did work two evenings to make up for it!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gabhan O’Tighearnaigh (athlete, debater, school student, decent bloke) writes:

Unlike all of the other posts on eatforafiver, a different person will be reviewing a place this week.

As a student, I felt it was important to avail of the opportunities I had and in fact go to a place that only students could eat in for a fiver.

Yum Thai on Duke Street was the place I chose. Any time I’ve passed this place before it was packed and, although you can sit down, the space is quite cramped and it is mainly seen as a place to get food to eat on the go. Fortunately, when I was there, it wasn’t too crowded so there was no trouble getting a seat.

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The food is laid out in a buffet style and all looked very appetising. One thing which particularly intrigued me about the place was that any dish available was for a fiver (if you’re a student) so I didn’t feel the urge to venture out of the price range. There were a good few options on the menu with a choice of rice or noodles with what you chose.

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To be honest, I just asked for what appealed to be the most from looking at it as I could clearly see what the contents were. It was called (on the menu) Peaw Wan (I think they mean Preaw Wan: they left out an ‘r’), and it was a sweet and sour dish with chicken and noodles. You get a choice of a plastic fork or chopsticks to eat it with. The picture does the food no justice because you really do get a humongous serving.

IMG_0480

I can see why this place is the canteen for the hoards of Trinity students everyday. There was a huge range of flavours in the carton (no plates are used in the restaurant). They crammed as much food as possible into it which I was happy about because I was starving. The price bears no reflection on the quantity of the food.

Another bonus was that you get a free piece of fruit with the meal with can never be any harm.

I would conclude that, although this is the only place I’ve eaten in for a fiver, it could become a benchmark for the standard of food that can be served for a fiver. I do hope more open up around the place. There is another one on Baggot Street.

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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.

2013-10-31 14.07.02

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 …

2013-10-31 14.02.39

 

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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 …

2013-10-31 14.00.16

… fair enough.

My food …

2013-10-31 13.45.48

… 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 …

2013-10-31 14.02.11

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 …

2013-10-31 13.35.33

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!

 

 

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.

2013-10-25 13.23.21

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Found All The Students

They’re all in the Mongolian Barbeque (MBBQ) (www.mongolianbbq.ie) on the corner of Anglesea Street and Cope Street. This place, …

… where I went for lunch today.

It does this

so it was, as they probably say, a no brainer.

I’d been there before with the spouse. Many years ago. I remember not being that impressed. The sort of control that you’re used to when cooking, where you can plan, taste and adjust, or even when ordering in a restaurant, when you have a reasonable idea what the food will taste like, is absent. And the consequence is that you can end up with food that tastes of nothing, or is over-flavoured to to the point of being the culinary equivalent of grey.

Interestingly, this seems to matter less when you’re getting fed for a fiver.

So here’s how it works (click to enlarge):

Here’s the food:

There’s noodles, onion, leek, carrot, bean sprouts, courgette, corn, spinach, tofu, mushrooms, mixed peppers and bamboo shoots.

The meat selection (excuse the crappy photo) comprises

chicken (naked), pork (also naked), or chicken in various sauces/marinades. To the right of this unit there is a selection of spices and flavourings (ginger, paprika, chilli powder, garam masala, five spice, garlic, fresh coriander and so on). Further on are containers of sauces (wine, sweet and sour, honey and soy, ‘tikka masala’, and a few others that I can’t recall).

There were two chefs, only one of whom was a ‘him’ as indicated by the instructions above. The one that wasn’t a him took my meat (I chose naked pork) and popped it on a big hot plate where it sizzled for a while alongside the sizzling meats of other lunchers.

As one’s meat progresses clockwise around the hot plate, the chef that is a him takes your non-meats (mine comprised leek, bean sprouts, courgettes, spinach and bamboo shoots) and tosses it on top of your by now pretty well cooked meat. Eventually your lunch reaches 12 o’clock and gets shovelled into a bowl and handed to you.

The operation is pretty slick. The place was VERY busy which makes a nice change from my usual eatforafiver experiences. When I first got there, there was a queue at the door so I went for a little wander and came back about 10 minutes later. The queue was gone but I had to wait a few minutes for a table to be available. I was managed with brisk courtesy by a helpful staff member who explained to me how the system worked and brought me to a table.

While I was making my selections and waiting for my food to be sizzled, a bowl of rice was brought to my table and later I was supplied with a big jug of iced water.

As the title suggests, the place was full of students most of whom had learned that the capacity of a bowl is not limited by its physical properties and that noodles, being quite heavy, can act as a stabilising force for a massive wobbling pile of food underneath.

My lunch …

… was OK. I suspect that after a few goes one would get more used to the proportion of flavouring to use relative to the quantity of food. I under-flavoured mine significantly. On the table was pepper and salt, soy sauce and a big bottle of what I suspect was sweet chilli sauce, which I left well alone. The bowl of rice was waiting for me to join it for some time and wasn’t that hot by the time I arrived.

So there you have it. The place is very well organised, it’s kind of fun putting your food together and it’s very good value.

It’s not really a place you’d go to alone – I think part of the enjoyment of somewhere like this is comparing choices and seeing how they turn out, so go with a few others.

I found this guy on the wall opposite:

Oh. And I bought a hat.

 

 

Hot Wok in North Earl Street

I didn’t mean to do two noodle bars in a row. I had intended to try out Kylemore Cafe on O’Connell Street to see what might be on offer for fiver. I could have had a 4 piece all-day breakfast but, to be honest, I didn’t fancy it so I thought I’d have a look around and see what I could find.

North Earl Street is dominated by Boyers, home to the polyester cardigan. Infrequently, I go into Boyers just to remind myself what department stores used to look like in the 1970s. Today several staff members seemed to be stuck in what I can only describe as an intimidating pose: arms folded, frowning, grimly set lips. As ever, the dominant colours of the shop are grey and brown and the displays are as lacklustre as they’ve always been. I did a swift wheel and left.

I found the Hot Wok by accident. It’s just at the junction of North Earl Street and O’Connell Street, opposite the Kylemore Cafe.

It’s small, with a cooking area behind a serving area in which all the menu items are on display. There are counters on either side of the door with 6 stools. Another 4 people can sit outside, at two tables.

I got there just before 1pm and I was lucky to get a seat. The place was incredibly busy just after 1. Behind the counter was one guy cooking and two very smiley, welcoming and quick servers, serving.

The menu is dominated by noodle and rice dishes with everything except the duck and prawn options costing a fiver or less.

They also do some combination meals for €6.90 comprising a rice or noodle dish, satay sticks or spring rolls and a can.

I opted for the Thai Chicken Curry and rice. As I’ve come to expect now, it was spooned out into one of those nice take-away boxes.

Lots of rice and a good three and a half spoonfuls* of curry. (*I would have written ‘spoonsful’ but then I’d get massive grief from my offspring for being pedantic (at best) or simply wrong: I’ve given up.)

The portion was very generous and steamy hot too. I grabbed a set of disposable chopsticks, found my seat and tucked in. The curry comprised a decent amount of chicken, with bamboo shoots, green pepper, courgette, carrot and broccoli. The sauce wasn’t anything special and I imagine that it originated in a jar. It was a generic Thai green curry: coconut-y and quite sweet with a mild spicy heat. Tasty.

This was one of the busiest eatforafiver spots I’ve been in. It’s a prime location (unlike that poor man I wrote about recently stuck up near Christ Church Cathedral), with lots of passing trade: shoppers and office workers. I got the impression that there were quite a few regulars but there were some who were evidently new to the noodle/rice box idea. The staff were helpful at explaining what was on offer. Most were takeaway customers.

Food eaten, I wandered around a bit. There’s a Polish foodstore near the junction with Marlborough Street that has a restaurant upstairs, offering different sized plates of food, with the smallest plate costing €4, so that’s gone on my list. In fact, it’s about time I explored some Euro-food. I seem to remember a place on Moore Street offering Balkan pies for a fiver.

Right so. The receipt …

Good value. Try it.

Wakin’ up to the Wok Inn

This place has two names: the Wok Inn and Wakin. Maybe somebody can explain why this might be. I haven’t a clue. It doesn’t seem to have a website but here’s the yelp.ie entry for it: Wok Inn.

There it is

Anyway, the young lad (being on a mid-term break) and I were in town doing other stuff and we decided to give it a go. It’s on Upper Stephen’s Street, near the Drury Street junction and opposite a hotel (the Drury Court Hotel) that, until 1.45pm today, I didn’t know existed.

... either ..

... or ...

The Wakin/Wok Inn doesn’t quite fit my self-imposed eatforafiver criteria in that it doesn’t have seats, but it does have a table (just one) that you can lean on while eating, so that’ll have to do. It’s small, clean and bright and service was both friendly and quick.

The counter

There’s quite a choice for a fiver or thereabouts: noodles, mostly, with beef, chicken or vegetables, and also curry and rice. Snacks (such as satay sticks) are a little less.

Neither of us was that hungry so we ordered a portion of chicken noodles between us. The noodles were spooned into one of those nice takeaway boxes and we were asked did we want some sauce with it. The choice seemed to be between soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce and what looked like a sambal. We passed on the sauce, paid, grabbed a couple of disposable chopstick sets and settled at the table.

Ready to go

 

Massive amount of food ...

This was a very generous portion consisting of thin noodles, chopped peppers (yellow, green and red), onion (lots), pak choi (not much), broccoli (one piece) and chicken (real chicken, not formed, reformed, pressed or reconstituted). The sauce was soy based, a little overpowering and a little too sweet for my taste. The young lad thought it was good. I liked it but I would have preferred a less sweet sauce, or maybe another constituent to the sauce to make it a bit more interesting.

The young lad stuffing it in

We couldn’t finish it – and that was the two of us (admittedly not that hungry) with one portion. But even if I was hungry, I’m not sure that I could have eaten a whole portion. It was HUGE.

The place was busy. I’m not sure what time it opens until but if it’s open late, I’d say it does a roaring trade when Break for the Border disgorges its clients.

I’m going to go back, hungry, and try the curry.

Oh yeah: that's €2.50 each!

 

 

 

Do the Toki Doki

I spotted the Toki Doki noodle bar last Wednesday as I was driving up Lord Edward Street towards Christ Church Cathedral (the nicer, brighter, friendlier and more accessible of the two Church of Ireland cathedrals in the city). Toki Doki is on the corner of Lord Edward Sreet and Christchurch Place, in a premises that has seen many different ventures disappear down the black hole of liquidation. I’d like to hope that Toki Doki does rather better. It’s a brave venture.

Despite the best efforts of planners and city councillors to destroy the oldest part of Dublin with wide roads, anonymous office blocks, the Civic Office monstrosity, pathetic attempts at mirroring the grandeur of the cathedral, and permitting vacant sites to remain eyesores, this part of the city has some stunning attractions: Dublin Castle, the cathedral itself …

… Castle Street and, of course, City Hall. Lord Edward Street, by the way, was only built in the early part of the twentieth century. Previously one had to skirt around City Hall and wander up Castle Street to get to Burdocks.

So, Toki Doki then.

It’s plain inside, but clean and bright. The serving counter is opposite the door and, against one window and one wall is a countertop with about 5 chairs. It’s mainly a take-away place, really.

Here’s the menu (click to enlarge in a new window):

As you’ll see, all the medium dishes and several of the large dishes are a fiver or less. That’s pretty good, I think. There are a few other noodle bars in the city that I’ve come across and this one seems to have the broadest range of dishes for a fiver.

They also have a special deal going at the moment:

The deal

When they say ‘Any Noodles’ they mean any medium size portion of the noodle dishes on the menu. The drink is a soft drink (bottled water, coke and so on).

I went for the Spicy Beef Noodles and a bottle of water.

There’s a choice of actual noodles (Singapore – thin ones, and Chow Mein [I think: they spell it Chawmin on the menu] – thicker ones).

The server popped the noodles (I chose the thin ones) into one of those American-style asian food take-away boxes* and spooned the spicy beef sauce on top.

Lunch! Yay.

Utensils and condiments are found nearby:

I chose some disposable chopsticks, gave the noodles a stir and tucked in.

My first reaction was that the noodles could have been hotter. The sauce was hot but I would imagine that if you took this back to your place of work, the food would be pretty cool by the time you got there. I do understand that keeping pre-cooked noodles hot is not easy as you run the risk of drying them out. The alternative is using oil and my arteries are grateful that these noodles are grease-free. Still …

My second reaction was: YUM! The sauce was gorgeous: it was a Thai inspired spicy sauce with a full coconut flavour, a hint of lemongrass and a good spicy heat that didn’t overpower, or even dominate, but crept up on you, in a good way. The beef element was minimal both in size and in quantity but that didn’t really take away from my enjoyment of my lunch. The noodles were nicely cooked and the dish was pretty filling. So filling, in fact, that I’m glad I opted for the medium deal rather than a large portion.

Noodlesonstix

The man behind the counter said that Toki Doki had been open for about two months. It wasn’t phenomenally busy. There were four people sitting at the counter when I arrived and possibly three or four people came in for take-away food in the fifteen or so minutes I was there. It’s a little out of the way and in an area of significant food competition. Parliament Street is full of restaurants and there are quite a few at the upper end of Dame Street too. And of course Temple Bar isn’t far away either. It’s hard to see where Toki Doki is going to get sufficient customers from to survive.

Anyway. I enjoyed my lunch and I thought it was good value for a fiver. It’s a place I’d return to if I’m in the area and I recommend that you try it too.

That's not what I had but it IS what I spent

 

* I’m old enough to remember some of the early Chinese take-aways in Dublin and, in particular, a place called Luna which was beside the (long gone) Adelphi Cinema in Dun Laoghaire in the 1960s. In those days you got your take-away in a regular Tupperware container which you washed at home and brought back to the take-away the next day. For some reason that I can’t quite understand, I  have loved those American-style containers ever since I first saw them on US television programmes years ago. They are here now and I’m happy.

 

Our Parnell Street Adventure

I wouldn’t have gone to this place if Margaret E Ward (MD of ClearInk and inspiration for and founder of womenonair) hadn’t suggested it in a comment on a previous post.

China Cottage/Han Yang, 103 Parnell Street

There’s nothing on the windows of the China Cottage/Han Yang to suggest that it offers anything for a fiver or less. But Margaret said that it did Dim Sum-type dishes for as little as €1 so we had a closer look.

Pasted to the wall beside each table was a menu, mostly in oriental script, but with some English, and helpful pictures of some of the food on offer. And yes, some of the items cost as little as 50c.

We, in this case, were the young lad (not back to school yet) and me. I must say that I prefer to do these eatforafiver things with some company and the young lad will try most things (once, at least), gets into the spirit of the adventure that is cheap food and is a good dining companion.

We were approached by a sceptical staff member. I say sceptical because she kind of looked us up and down as if we might have strayed into the wrong restaurant by accident. We were the only European-looking people there, sure, and maybe she felt that we weren’t really looking for the food she had to offer. She even checked to see whether we really wanted oriental food.

Anyway, we consulted the pasted up menu and made our selections. She wrote them down and pointed to a few pots of broth and other items that were laid out on a table to the side of the restaurant. She said something that I didn’t quite hear and went to fill our order. I confess to having been a little apprehensive about approaching her again to explain what everything on the table was and what we were supposed to do with it, so we just filled a bowl each with what turned out to be a very tasty soup containing rice, some molluscs and bits of ham.

The rice soup

Some of our order arrived soon after and we tucked in. The first batch of food comprised a fried dumpling with chives and egg (€1), a pork meat pie (€1), a deep fried sesame ball with red bean paste (50c) and an oyster pancake with pork and veg (€1.50).

Batch #1

We divided each item in half, grabbed our chopsticks and ate with relish.

They might not look that appetising in the photo but they tasted good, with flavoursome fillings. The only item the young lad wasn’t keen on was the sesame ball, and mainly because the red bean paste was quite sweet and he felt it didn’t go well with the sesame seeds.

Chives and egg dumpling

Just as we had finished the first batch, the rest of our order arrived. Unlike batch #1, which appeared to have been pre-prepared and ready for serving, the other items had been freshly prepared. They were a scallion pancake (€1) and six steamed dumplings (€5).

These were gorgeous. The scallion pancake was a bit like a paratha, with a flaky buttery texture and a lovely mild spring onion taste. The dumplings were moist and soft, with a very tasty pork-based (I think) filling.

Our steamed dumplings ...

... being enjoyed

Our surroundings were plain and quite utilitarian and there were just three other solo diners (who evidently did know what to do with the broth and food on the table I referred to earlier). There’s a big TV on the wall in one corner, tuned to an oriental channel. For food this cheap, surroundings don’t bother me, as long as the place is clean. And it is, although the toilets could do with a bit of a mop and someone to empty the overflowing bin.

We didn’t hang around once we’d finished. When I went to pay, the sceptical staff member asked how we’d liked the food. We told her we enjoyed it and her scepticism vanished immediately, replaced by a warm and broad smile. We did enjoy the food. In fact the young lad was most impressed, suggesting that it was ‘up there’ and saying that he’d like to come back.

So, finally … a confession. The food for the two of us came to €12. Ooops! I didn’t factor in the soup when calculating the cost initially. Without the soup, it would still have been a good value lunch. Alternatively, we could have had the soup and a few other small dishes rather than those lovely dumplings and got away for a tenner for the two of us.

I’d say: go for it. (Thanks for the tip-off Margaret.)

 

Old Town Café

Aaaand … we’re back. Holidays and real life took over for a while but the quest for good value eats resumes here.

We used to live just off Clanbrassil Street and I used to work on Montague Street so the Camden Street/ Wexford Street area is familiar territory. It’s changed hugely since then but it still retains some of its atmosphere with its vegetable stalls, small butchers, Go West clothes shop and Travel World, an excellent travel agent that has served us very well over the years. Devitt’s pub on the corner of Camden Street and Pleasants Street used to be called the Cusack Stand and was one of our firm favourites.

The area now caters for a massive nightclub crowd at the weekends, drawn to The Palace, (situated in an old cinema building where bits of The Commitments was shot in the very early 1990s) and a few late night eateries have opened there recently. I’ll write about Burritos and Blues in a later post as it does a slimmed down burrito for under a fiver.

I was driving down Wexford Street recently and the words ‘noodle box’ caught my attention. I just had that feeling, looking at the outside, that it might be somewhere worth exploring for this blog.

Two of my customary dining companions weren’t available. The big lad’s in Britain taking a Masters in Physiotherapy and the young lad was taking part in some high-end karate training session. The young lad is pretty good at the karate. A few weekends back he was part of the Irish squad at the JKS World Karate Championships in Edinburgh where he performed very well.

The spouse, happily and fortunately, was in town shopping and agreed to eatforafiver with me.

The Old Town Café Noodle Box is located half way down Wexford Street on the left as you’re going into Town. It’s surprisingly big inside, with about seven or eight 2-person tables on the left and tables for larger groups on the right. The kitchen area is at the back. The restaurant is clean, roomy and plainly decorated.

There’s a menu in the window, more in a leaflet holder just inside the door and others scattered around the tables. The menu is divided into four sections: Old Town Regular Boxes (noodle dishes), Old Town Rice Boxes, Old Town Malaysian Boxes and, oddly, Old Town Italian Boxes.

Prices range from €5 for some of the noodle boxes to €7.50 for some of the Malaysian meals. There are also some bits and pieces for under a fiver as you’ll see from the menu (for the full menu, click > here).

The spouse opted for the Lo Hon Box, comprising ‘thin egg noodles, tofu and Asian vegetables, wok tossed in special soy sauce’. I went for the Teriyaki Chicken Box, ‘thick egg noodles, chicken, prawn and Asian vegetables tossed in our teriyaki sauce’.

You order at the kitchen counter and, if you’re eating in, take your preferred table. I forgot to mention that it’s also a take-away.

We ordered, paid over the tenner to the nice man behind the counter, sat down and waited. The food didn’t take long. Contrary to the name of the restaurant, the food comes in bowls, on a tray, with chopsticks (not the disposable ones), a fork and a serviette.

The spouse’s food came first:

The spouse's Lo Hon Box

It was steamy hot. The spouse tucked in with gusto and gave it the thumbs up. It was nicely flavoured, with cucumber, broccoli, baby corn, tofu and onion, and a good heap of noodles, as you can see.

My Teriyaki Chicken box came soon after:

My Teriyaki Chicken Box

Thicker noodles, three or four big prawns and plenty of thin slices of chicken. The sauce had the sweetness of teriyaki but ‘teriyaki-flavoured’ might have been a more accurate description and it was a little salty for my taste.

That being said, I’m not complaining. It was a good wholesome feed for a fiver and there’s plenty more on the menu to bring me back, outside the budgetary constraints of this blog. It was also nice to eat with substantial chopsticks.

So, if you’re in Wexford Street and you’re a bit peckish for Oriental food, I’d say ‘go for it’. Good value, clean premises, friendly service. What more could you ask for?

 

 

 

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