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Congo couple bring a taste of Africa to city

AS TALK of budget cuts fills the airwaves, let's remind ourselves of one of the good things that the boom brought us -- immigrants.

When cranks call late-night radio shows to complain about "these people coming over here taking our jobs," I often wonder did they order in a pizza or a chicken chow-mien for their dinner, neither of which would be possible without immigration.

Resto-Kash was opened in the heart of Dublin's North Inner City not long ago by a young couple from the Congo and has intrigued me since I first heard about it, given how few African restaurants we have in Dublin.

The restaurant is in a rather insalubrious courtyard just off Dorset Street. There are no great views (unless you count the plasma screens silently showing music videos) but both rooms are simply laid out and comfortable.

The menu has a number of European favourites such as fish and chips and lasagne, perhaps to attract some of the locals, but we were more interested in trying traditional Nigerian spicy tripe soup or beef casserole Kinshasa-style.

I visited on a mid-week evening with PE -- publicist extraordinaire and intrepid food adventurer who lives nearby and who first alerted me to Resto-Kash.

We chose to sit upstairs and were pleased that the chef (Jacqueline from Cameroon) came herself to our table to take our order.

After a lengthy discussion between the chef, the owner and ourselves, we managed to find some dishes we wanted to eat and that the chef wanted to cook.



catfish

Our starters of spicy prawns and home-made samosas (just €3.45 each) were each served with a freshly made sweet chilli sauce and both were excellent -- the prawns were firm and had a pleasant lip-tingling quality that contrasted nicely with the sweet chilli sauce, and the samosas filled with minced lamb and vegetables were as good as I have ever tasted.

Barbecued marinated lamb with basil and spices had a good hit of chilli and included some welcome chunks of tender kidney.

Steamed catfish was in four large pieces (head included) in a spicy tomato-and-onion-based sauce that had a complex blend of chilli and savoury flavours and was easily my dish of the evening.

Finely chopped cassava leaves with flaked catfish and palm oil was a little like kale and offered a nice texture contrast to the other mains.

The chef was right to talk up her "yellow rice" as this was a complex savoury rice dish which, along with our fried plantain, added some good balance to the meal.

We had been told there was a BYOB (bring your own bottle) policy, but in fact they do have a red and white wine available, as well as some beers.



desserts



They assured us that it was no problem that we had brought our own, and perhaps it was just as well as later in the evening the owner told us he had no wine left so he volunteered to fetch us a second bottle from a nearby off-licence.

The slightly chaotic elements of the meal such as the disappearing wine, some confusion over the orders, and the fact that there were no desserts made this a distinctly odd evening but nevertheless a very enjoyable one with tasty, interesting food.

This is not a restaurant that will win prizes for its entrance but as they say on their menu: "Food Lovers will be the happiest!"


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