It's easy to understand the universal appeal of street food. It's a no-brainer - tasty, immediate, fresh and good value. You will note I omit the nasty words 'fast' and 'cheap' - that is a different sector! Street food has also become a way for people to set up in business, starting simply with a stall, a van or a modest premises. Indeed, many experienced people are doing so.
Siri, facing Christ Church Cathedral, is such a case. It has just been opened by Jayraj Poojary and Kuldip Kumar, both of whom worked for a high-end Indian restaurant group here for many years. With them, they have Chef Rajeev Kalhotra, who has worked in the five-star Oberoi hotels in India. The premises are simple, the food is delicious and the prices are great.
You can either take your food out, or perch on a stool and chomp away from your snack box, as they do in Mumbai. There are three menus: in-house, take-away and a lunch box. The in-house menu (€7.50-€14.95) sports dishes such as prawn Molly, a South Indian dish of tiger prawns in a smooth coconut sauce; Punjabi lamb curry; aromatic biryanis or a wonderful thali selection of curries, plus specialities from their tandoor oven. The take-away menu (€3.50-€12.95) has all your favourite Indian dishes, while their lunch boxes at €5-€6 will brighten up your workplace.
I had a Udipi prawn box (€9.95) with gorgeous prawn 'lollipops' coated with very fine crispy potato strings, served with Goan sauce, rice and naan bread. A tandoori chicken tikka box (€8.75) was also ace, with spiced chicken breast served with paratha and mint chutney.
If you fancy Mexican food, take a wander down to K Chido, located at the back of the Four Courts, where you can't miss the colourful wall-art on the front of a warehouse. A big pink-and-blue van is parked inside, from which they serve breakfast burritos, fajitas, tacos and quesadillas. The combinations include everything from pulled pork to chorizo, to re-fried beans and plenty of jalapenos - all around €4.50-€6. You can do take-out, or park yourself on the knocked-together, brightly painted wooden seating under the gaze of old Mexican photos. I had a delicious quesadilla filled with courgette, cheese and chillies (€4.50) - hot, hot, hot - while my friend had a toasted fajita with beef, cheese, onions, peppers and salad (€6). Now, was that really a senior counsel I saw in a corner, with a vast burrito between his chops?
Another 'in-house van' is My Meat Wagon in Smithfield. You don't have to sport a beard or wear a beanie to enjoy it, but, if you do, I'd say you'd be in hipster heaven. Again, it's a van with a boarded-up facade but, for all its laid-back, American hillbilly look, a lot of effort has gone into making this place comfortable as well as cool.
Grub-wise, it's all about barbecued meat - cow, pig and bird with slaw, corn, fries, mash, beans and sausage. It was lunchtime; options included 'meat in bread' or 'meat in a box', with two sides and a drink - which was served in jam-jars - at €12 to sit in, or €10 to take out. Sides are a hefty €3.95. We shared 'meat on a board' at €14.95 with pulled pork, brisket, two chicken pieces, red slaw and fries - served in a mini shopping-trolley, natch!
Watching the 'suits and beards' chomp away, all I could think was that this was an update on the mammy dinner of meat and two veg - and probably more expensive than the auld lunchtime pub carvery. I guess it's a bit like a Mickey D's for big boys - there are even toy-animal table markers!
9A, Lord Edward Street,
Tel: (01) 672-8080
Tel: (086) 353-4369
Tel: (01) 874-8172
69A Johnstown Grove, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin.
Tel: (087) 610-2414
Jaime Jambrina's Spanish food, which includes paella, gazpacho and croquetas, is available at Dun Laoghaire and Merrion Square food markets, and soon Jaime will be in permanent new premises in Blackrock. Catering, cooking workshops and an online food store
Market food, €1-€10
Bocata de chistorra - a large Basque sausage on a bread roll, €4
6/7 Carey's Lane,
Tel: (021) 427-2388
Having wowed Limerick with his great Asian street food, Eddie Ong Chok Fong has opened in Cork. Choices range from fish cakes to wok noodles, stir-fries to curries, grilled dishes to zesty salads
Som Tam - green papaya salad, with dried shrimp and cherry tomato, €9
Tel: (087) 974-2019
Susi is the Irish for sushi but Japanese chef, Yoshio Miyachi, also has many other authentic Japanese specialities in his repertoire. Available at Dun Laoghaire, Merrion Square, Stillorgan and Sandyford markets. Bento boxes for lunch and private catering
Market food, €2-€7
Yakisoba noodles with chicken