I’m not sure how I spent two years living in Ranelagh without sampling every eatery it has to offer. Part of me thinks it may have been the allure of new openings like Host and Nightmarket but revisiting the stalwarts is high on my food-gawking agenda at the moment.
Across from one of my coffee haunts Urban Health, Mak at D6 somehow evaded me, despite my deep seated love of a cheeky Chinese. Opened in 2012 by the Mak brothers Ricky and Jules, Mak is polished and slick decor wise, still flooded with summer sunshine and filling up quickly on the bright Friday evening I finally gave in to my craving.
Seated by the window in prime people watching position, my attention was quickly stolen by the extensive and inviting menu, split into starters, Dim Sum and bites, soups and mains. I was a little disappointed to see my favourite Hot and Sour Soup missing, but this was more than made up for with a selection of very tempting treats with everything from classic Yuk Sung to the oh so stylish Pork Bao.
My momentary disappointment was quickly dispelled when I spotted something I am always drawn to on menus, Soft Shell Crab (€12).
This opening act arrived with three whole beauties piled up high, wrapped in feather light tempura batter crisped up like puffed rice encasing sweet and soft crabmeat. A side of Sriracha mayo proved to be a fiery bath for the crave-worthy crustaceans, sitting on a bed of crunchy flash fried veggies. Top tip: don’t agree to share these, as the rationing of the last one could get heated.
As traditional Dim Sum is a speciality at Mak, we opted for Prawn and Pork Har Su (€7.50) steaming seductively from their traditional bamboo home, juicy, plump and stabbed greedily with my chopstick for ease of devouring.
Rounding out our trifecta of tasters, two generous Pork Belly Skewers glistened in a pleasingly sweet soy and coriander glaze with each chunky five spice scented cube topped with audibly crunchy and perfectly rendered crackling. While I love traditional peking duck(and narrowly swerved the duck pancakes on the menu), humble pork belly this delicious is the creme de la creme of Chinese food for me.
Mak offers a classic cocktail line up with the usual suspects, the Old Fashioned, Espresso Martini et all dotted with Asian inspired concoctions like a punchy sounding Cucumber and Wasabi Martini, Chilli Caiproska and gin-spiked Oriental Smash offering stylish sips.
Fun fact: Rosé, the summer tipple du jour, makes a blushing and brilliant partner to many Chinese dishes, whereas my safe bet pick would have been a Riesling. On the recommendation of my Sommelier dining companion we indulged in a bottle of Domaine Horgelus La Vie en Rose (€28), with subtle grassy notes and a pretty red fruitiness complimenting the spice and herbal notes of the next dish of Fillet Beef with Chilli and Basil(€18) nicely.
Far more than your run of the mill stir-fried beef creation, a generous helping of tender sliced and flash fried fillet spilled out Cornucopia style from a crispy noodle bonnet, with lashings of aromatic basil and just enough chilli to get me a little hot under the collar. It’s not hard to see why this is one of the most popular dishes on the menu.
The dish across the table, however, couldn’t compete in the beauty stakes but outshone in terms of both flavour and authenticity. XO Drunken Prawns (€18) saw ample king prawns cooked in a sticky liquor laced with cognac and contrasted with juicy pork mince. This to me was akin to Yuk Sung’s sexier, more intriguing sister – boozy, slightly sweet and seductive.
Our very lovely waitress tells us people are reluctant to order this delicious dish, as many play it safe with the familiar satays and sweet and sours. Don’t take my word for it – this will be your new go-to if you just give it a chance.
Although we definitely over-ordered (each dish is quite ample) ending things on a sweet note is an unshakeable habit of mine. No one goes to a Chinese restaurant with dessert in mind, but an oozy Banana Spring Roll certainly wasn’t a bad way to end what had been a fiery feast, like a Saigon Split.
I’m actually a little glad I didn’t know just how good that naughty soft shell crab is, as I probably would have developed a (bi)weekly habit. I reckon their takeaway menu is going to be top drawer in my house from now on and Return to the Mak is on the cards very soon.
The bill for three starters, two mains, dessert and a bottle of Rosé came to €97.
Mak at D6
T: 01 406 0006
REVIEW BY DARINA COFFEY