Restaurant review: Lucinda O'Sullivan at The Paella Guys, Seoul Food and Sonja's Alpine Bakery
For just a few euros, there's a whole new world of delicious street food to discover at Dublin's food markets, says Lucinda O'Sullivan, who heads first to Fitzwilliam Square for a taste of the atmosphere
Want to sample food cooked by a chef who worked for the top London Moroccan restaurant Moro, or authentic dishes from Korea? Look no further than the food markets of Dublin, which have a huge range of delicious street food for a few euros. It was a pure joy looking at everyone browsing the stalls in Fitzwilliam Square, before eating on the grass as a guitarist played gently in the background.
Ian Marconi was a chef with Moro, as well as being with Fergus Henderson's hip St John in London, before setting up The Paella Guys, concentrating on recipes from Spain, Morocco and the Middle East. Try his delicious Moorish spiced-lamb meatballs in tomato yoghurt and honey sauce (€8) or chicken and chorizo paella (€8). Have a half and half. Like many of the traders I spoke to, The Paella Guys do different markets on different days, while some operators have multiple stalls.
At Fitzwilliam Square, too, was Damian Ryan who set up Seoul Food with his girlfriend Andrea Moyles. Damian's mother is Korean, so they have been using her recipes. Try tak kangjon, a spiced chicken dish, or bulgogi -- sliced beef, red peppers, mangetout and onions marinated in soy sauce, rice wine, honey, garlic and ginger -- each served with rice (€7/ €8). With two tents now, they do five markets a week, including Sandyford.
Having sold catering equipment for 10 years, Jimmy Malone, from Raheny, has just started Dabba Catering, with two 120kg tandoori ovens in the back of the stall. He also does the Howth Market, beside The Bloody Stream pub, on Sundays. Jimmy and his Indian chef were busy offering poppadoms and chutneys to clients while they waited to snaffle up tandoori naan wraps (€6) and chicken biriyani (€7). Dabba also do private parties.
The Choux Box guys had a great display of outrageously pretty lollipops, which are delicate little cakes on a stick (€2 each). They are a new patisserie based in south Dublin, run by Peter Kilkenny and Paul O'Neill, a Cathal Brugha Street-trained chef, who worked both at Ely HQ and Eatery 120. "Move over cupcakes," they say, "the Choux Box pop is here."
Dave's Wood-Fired Pizza Company covers 10 markets a week, as well as parties, festivals and wedding 'afters'. Dave Lennon was a chef in London for a number of years before opening his business. He uses sourdough pizza bases, topped with prosciutto, caramelised onion, goat's cheese, chorizo, fresh chilli, anchovies, capers and olives and so on (€5/€7).
Sonja Luescher Keogh, from Switzerland but living in Bray, Co Wicklow, is another new face, with Sonja's Alpine Bakery. I really liked her homely produce -- orange squares with chocolate chunks (€2), Alpine walnut tart slices (€1.50). She is at Fitzwilliam Square on Fridays and Marlay Park on Sundays and she welcomes orders.
At Percy Place, I met Wanapa Cunningham of Aroi Thai with pad Thai (€5), chicken stir-fry and noodles (€7) and chicken green curry (€8), while Mark Yu's Mr Noodle does Chinese food at a number of markets. He had delicious king prawn, beef, vegetable or chicken fried noodles with mushrooms, onions, peppers with sweet chilli sauce (€6).
Sebastien Black from Spain, and his Argentinian wife Florence, brought Latin flavour to Percy Place. Try their chicken and chorizo stew and empanadas.
Mohammed Allaw covers a number of markets with his Lebanese food, including Stillorgan Shopping Centre, Percy Place on Fridays, and Dun Laoghaire on Sundays. Try falafel wraps (€5), falafel plates (€7), or a vegetarian mixed plate (€9) -- and finish off with with a sweet baklava (€1).
Noirin's Bake House from Ferns, Co Wexford, had lovely spelt banana bread (€4.50) plus carrot, chocolate, coffee, lemon and poppyseed cakes (all €5), while Declan Cassidy with his Newbridge-based Gourmet Grub Bakery had sausage rolls, salads, burritos with salmon, and vegetable quiche with goat's cheese (€5). Nearby, Richie Doran was busy feeding the people with John Rogan's barbecued smoked sausages from Ratoath, Co Meath.
Finally, Karuna's Kitchen is at Temple Bar on Saturdays and Dun Laoghaire People's Park on Sundays. Karuna and her husband Gopagana (originally Gerry Ryan) are Hare Krishna members and come down to Dublin from Fermanagh each week with their range of vegetarian Indian-style spiced food. All of their curries are wheat-free, as are their koftas and tikkas.
The Paella Guys, tel: (086) 100-8591.
Seoul Food, tel: (086) 367 4214 or email email@example.com.
Dabba, tel: (086) 382-2795 or see www.dabba.ie.
The Choux Box, tel: (086) 311-2920, or www.thechouxbox.ie.
Dave's Wood-Fired Pizza Company, see www.daveswood-firedpizzas.com.
Sonja's Alpine Bakery, tel: (086) 782-6259, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Karuna's kitchen, see www.karunaskitchen.com