The Feast from the East – Koh Restaurant Dublin Review
The Luas Cross City line, with all its promise and bluster, has proven a bit of a damp squib, with commuters crammed like sardines into seven carriage long tins, or trying to keep their cool as yet another tram passes too full to stop. My recommendation would be to avoid, if possible, although a recent near miss with the ever unreliable had an unexpected happy ending.
Late night shopping has been the cause of many a terrifying online banking login for me, but on this Treat Myself Thursday my main fear was standing in the unseasonably bitter cold watching yet another tram whizz by – would our evening of spoiling ourselves in the shops post pay day be ruined? We were determined to ensure it wouldn’t be, and the bright lights of Koh, a stone’s throw from Jervis Luas stop, caught our eye and offered redemption.
Opting to skip the heated terrace area for the more cosy and inviting interior, Koh is dimly lit and buzzing when we arrive, with suits splitting gyoza, girl gangs toasting Thursday with Prosecco and ourselves, laden down with shopping bangs seeking to refuel and warm back up with some fiery food.
Moving from the busy bar area to a lively dining room, hunger pangs set in watching groups digging into tempting sharing platters and breathing in the intoxicating spice drifting from colourful plates of Eastern promise.
More promising still, was spotting a list of Irish suppliers on the menu, from Kish Fish and Mourne Seafood to chickens from the Lannon family farm in Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo, Connemara Hill Lamb and beef from Thomastown in Kilkenny. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is not on the menu, which makes over-ordering with abandon all the more tempting.
What sounds like a first world problem is actually one I am rarely afflicted with when dining out – too many dishes I want to try to choose just one. Luckily for us, a Starter Platter (€10.50)included two of the dishes I couldn’t pass up, Miang Kam and Chargrilled King Prawn, alongside a sweet shredded mound of mango salad, a refreshing addition which I am always pleased to see on Asian menus.
Miang Kam, in this case with sticky shredded pork, are leaves topped with what I always think of as Asian trail mix – crunchy peanuts, chewy umami bombs of dried shrimp, aromatic lime leaf, all intermingled with sweet strands of pork belly to create a more-ish mouthful of all that is wonderful about Thai cuisine – I only wished I had ordered a full plate of them to devour.
Our chargrilled prawns are outstretched and juicy within, having spent just enough time mingling with a flame, and the same smokiness carries through to skewers of chicken destined for dunking in a ginger and garlic spiked crunchy satay sauce.
Finally, a Golden Moneybag of shrimp and scallop wasn’t really on the money for me, but my dining companion reckoned they were a naughty treat worth indulging in.
Keen to sample more of the tremendously tempting starter offering, we also opted to share Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls(€9.50), a dish du jour so popular an eatery dedicated to the delicacy has recently opened on Kevin Street, and the thought of it gave me hunger pangs.
Koh’s summer roll offering includes a unique and delicious in-house smoked trout roll with pickled ginger and asparagus and we both chose it as our favourite over the veggie option of tofu and avocado. That said, we demolished both with lashings of a sour and salty Nuoc Cham dipping sauce, a staple Vietnamese condiment of lime juice, fish sauce and a hint of sweetness from palm sugar.
Moving on to mains, and having entirely overdone it on starters and copious amounts of prawn crackers dipped in the aforementioned delicious satay and nuoc cham pots, I was pleased to see some lighter alternatives to the traditionally heavy coconut curries of Thai cuisine and opted for Son Tam Thai(€17.50).
Although I have often spotted this papaya salad served with rare beef, chargrilled chicken was the order of the day here and along with crunchy green beans and sprouts, lashings of my favourite herb coriander and more of that divine duo of dried shrimp and peanut, I was a happy girl indeed.
Across the table, tender Beef and Ginger Stir-Fry (€19.50)was hitting the right notes, and was again so much lighter and more refreshing than the belt busting, greasy dishes we so often are presented with in Asian eateries – a pleasing common theme in Koh. Another plus for me was the option of swapping out sticky rice for crisp flash fried veggies, so whether you are feasting or saving yourself for yet more cocktails at Koh, everyone is catered to.
Since we had stayed saintly on our dish choices up to that point, we agreed to split a selection of desserts, with mini Banoffee Pie (less traditional Thai, more overtly indulgent and rather delicious), a surprisingly light White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake and a palate cleansing Lime and Passionfruit Semi-Freddo (€5.95 each), which we were both big fans of. Whereas Thai restaurants aren’t generally known for stellar desserts, Koh certainly raised the bar in the sweet stakes with well-made, tasty options.
Having become far too comfortable in our cosy booth drinking in the buzzing Thursday atmosphere, we settled on one last treat, this time from the extensive and inventive cocktail menu – A Bog Warrior for me and an Old Fashioned No. 2 (€10.95)for Rachel, as a digestive and perfect end to the evening.
Peaty with Connemara Whiskey, the Warrior fought a good fight for drink of the night, like a whiskied riff on Sangria with Tawny Port and a twist of orange. As a connoisseur of the Old Fashioned I commandeered a sip, and am pleased to say the Kilbeggan and maple based, rosemary infused version was none too sweet with just the right balance.
The beauty of Koh the way it strikes the balance between the kind of fiery and authentic Thai dishes I crave and comforting favourites to please any and every dinner guest, all crafted with quality produce and none of the nasties. Settling a bill of €85 for two starters, two mains, desserts and two cocktails, we psyched ourselves up to go back out into the night and stared down the problem we had delayed facing with the delicious distraction of Koh.
To ruin the evening with a tortuous tram journey or to walk, we pondered aloud in more prominent Kerry accents than before, as full as the red line at rush hour and pleasantly warm post-cocktail. Having rescued Treat Yourself Thursday with a Thai treat, we dodged Dublin’s transport blindspot and navigated our way home on foot to walk off those prawn crackers – two bog warriors in the city with an old fashioned solution.
6/7 Jervis Street,
T: +353 1 814 6777
Growing up with the name Darina, I was constantly asked if I could cook like my namesake. I am the only person to have contested both Masterchef and the Great Irish Bake Off and am passionate about discovering and creating delicious things – I can sometimes be caught in the act on TV3’s Six O’Clock Show or RTE Today. Working with TheTaste allows me to satisfy this craving and marries my food fascination with my love of writing and ranting. Follow me on my pursuit of deliciousness.