Eating Out: Lucinda O'Sullivan at Aroi Asian Street Food
The delicious food, excellent service and incredible value is sure to keep the customers returning for more
Street food is the thing people talk about when they return from the Far East. Those morsels of deliciousness cooked and sold, for no more than a few cents, from stalls in the markets and on the streets.
Foodies waffle, too, about street food in Ireland, of which we really have very little. But, let me tell you, if you want to experience authentic Malaysian, Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese street food at great prices, treat yourself to a trip to Aroi Asian Street Food – just opened in Limerick.
Aroi has been opened by chef Eddie Ong Chok Fong, and his delightful Chinese wife, Jenny. Fong has worked in many countries and, as we sat there chowing contentedly through myriad exotic flavours and textures, Jenny told me that chef Fong has worked in five-star hotels and is also experienced in the art of French cuisine.
On emerging through the kitchen curtain to enquire as to our food, chef Fong told me he is half-Thai and half-Malaysian. He grew up in a street-food environment in Bangkok, where, from a young age, he helped his mother and grandmother make noodle soups for the thousands of people flooding the streets of the city on their bicycles, heading to work. After school, it was then back to work in the busy, noisy kitchens of a restaurant.
So this man has grown up with food; it is in his genes, and it shows. What struck me immediately was the sour/sweet/fresh elements, so often dumbed down for European palates, and I hope they stick to this principle because it is this difference that makes Aroi so special.
All of the dishes – from sides, curry, stir-fry, grilled, rice, wok noodles, noodle soup – run from €3-€10, with juices, cha, beer, soft drinks and wine from €2.50-€7. You can literally dine here like the King of Siam and not break the bank.
The decor is Asian-diner-style, with a long banquette running down one side and a handful of booths on the other. Pretty pink bamboo-pattern table runners and menus add softness, along with Asian artifacts and pictures. We picked a few sides as starters and, as I write, I only wish I was sitting down to them again!
A trio of terrific fish cakes (€4.50) were served on a Thai tomato sauce topped with sweet sour pickled cucumber, slices of red chilli and scattered with peanuts.
Mou bing (€5) consisted of tender, chargrilled pork chunks in a sweet and sour tamarind sauce, which prompted me to ask about the chef's Indonesian influences.
Thai calamari (€5) was not of the pale, anaemic variety; instead it had lusty, brown, melt-in-the-mouth curls resting on a banana leaf, and was dressed with little red-hot bird's eye chillies, crushed peppercorn, lime leaves, a section of lemon, and a ginger dressing.
Likewise, a pair of porpia bpet tod (€5) had crispy duck rolls with sweet chilli sauce, cucumber pickle and chilli.
We then moved on to wonderful pad se-lew (€10), with its ribbons of thick, silk noodles tossed with stir-fried, delicious green vegetables, pak choi, green beans and slivers of pork – it was just so good and so healthy with all of those vegetables.
Chargrilled breast of duck (€10) was equally divine, sitting on another bed of fab, fresh green vegetables. The skin was dark, succulently sinful, the meat was melt-in-the-mouth gorgeous, and all coated in that divine tamarind sauce. Another outstanding dish was their som tam salad (€9) – a wonderful combination of fresh green papaya, cherry tomatoes, green salad, and topped with dried shrimp.
We were brought colourful, fun tubs of ice cream – strawberry, vanilla and mint; and with a coconut, carrot and orange juice (€3), a bottle of Acqua Panna water (€2.50) and two bottles of Tiger Beer (€5 each), our bill, with optional service – which was great – came to €70. "Aroi" means delicious or tasty. It sure is. This place is going to be busy!
- Aroi Asian Street Food, 1 O'Connell Street, Limerick. Tel: (061) 311-411 www.aroi.eu
Lucinda's three to try
The Triangle, Ranelagh Village, Dublin 6.
Tel: (01) 406-2200
A new "Indian to go", with delicious food prepared by high-end restaurant chefs. From jumbo tandoori prawns and Goan prawn curry to bhindi masala, sea bass curry and chicken vindaloo. Tasting menus and kids' meals available
Nalli gosht – a Rasoi specialty – 24-hour marinated lamb shank with cashew nuts, tomato, caramelised onions and yoghurt, €13.50
Soft drinks; mango lassi
Pope's Quay, Cork. Tel: (087) 640-9079 www.facebook.com/ lyerscafe
Southern Indian vegetarian food is the thing here, and it seems people would die for the vegetable samosas, not to mention the aloo tikki chaat. Daily specials. There is late opening on Thursdays
Onion dhosa – €5.50
Fruit juices, coconut water and lassi
93 Terenure Road North, Terenure, Dublin 6W. Tel: (01) 538-8000 www.tani.ie
You can eat in or take out. The extensive menu offers more than sushi, including teppanyaki, stir-fried noodles, katsu curries and cha han rice dishes
Kani roll – deep-fried, soft-shell crab, with flying fish roe, avocado, crab meat and spring onions, €11.50
Sunday Indo Life Magazine