KOH reviewed in The Irish Times Magazine by Tom Doorley.
See the Review below or visit the Irish Times Online:
RESTAURANTS : KOH is blooming in the Quartier
OFF TO THE preposterously named Quartier Bloom to see for myself if it was true that Dublin now has a Thai restaurant that could be considered to be in the same league as the brilliant Kin Khao in Athlone. I know it’s not in every area that Athlone has such an edge over the capital, but it’s true in this case.
The place that has been talked about so much is KOH, a very big restaurant with a vast bar, all designed with a bit of a nod to places such as London’s Hakkasan and Yauatcha, but stopping a little short of actual global cool. I reckon the bar is significant in that they do a big range of cocktails which is a very clever way of “adding value”, as they say, to straightforward booze. Get in a good mixologist (I’m sorry, but that is what they call barmen), and it will do no harm at all to the bottom line.
Conceived before the Celtic Tiger was mown down, KOH is very 2007. But, unlike the late lamented South Bar Grill in Sandyford, another monument to flathuileach times, it manages to keep fairly busy. It’s easy to see why. They have very pleasant staff, a good kitchen and prices that correspond more closely to reality than many in Dublin. And, although it has a strong Thai accent, there’s something a bit pan-Asian going on – which could be risky in less able hands. Here it seems to work.
A friend of mine who has an asbestos palate and taste buds that remain intact after years of being scorched, tells me that both the red and the green curries are quite authentic. The only time I’ve eaten the genuine, 24-carat article, as enjoyed by generations of Thais, I was incapable of breathing for about two minutes and of speech for the remainder of the meal. But, yes, it did get those endorphins flowing.
Anyway, in the wicked way of the restaurant critic, I noticed that KOH is doing gyoza dumplings which hail from Japan. But my scepticism evaporated as I bit into these delicate little mouthfuls, each of them encased in a supremely light – what’s the word – dough? Pasta? Wrapping?
And then, a beef salad. Yes, I know, a bit of a cliche but a good index of a Thai restaurant in Ireland. Well, it was substantial and the slivers of beef were impeccably cooked (although, multiculturally, it was referred to as carpaccio which should, as we all know, be raw). The salad was crisp and fresh, the cucumber maybe a little too chunky, and the dressing nice and sharp, even if it didn’t deliver the knock-out chilli heat that comes with the real deal.
My learned assistant had poussin, which is cropping up all over the place at the moment. At KOH it’s marinated in garlic, ginger and various spices including, I’d hazard, turmeric, all of which provided flavour, something that baby chickens don’t really do for themselves, resembling tofu in this respect. It was described as peri-peri poussin, which is alliterative but probably means piri-piri – in which case was it wasn’t quite as expected.
And then a very generous main course of two grilled mackerel which were good and fresh and not too oily. These were served with a curiously creamy textured take on pesto, which was made with a great deal of coriander. Its fresh sharpness worked well with the fish.
Gastronomically, you could accuse KOH of being all over the place, but it somehow manages to hold together and does so quite impressively. There’s talent in the kitchen, a sense of pushing the boundaries and a lightness of touch that is very contemporary. This isn’t the kind of place that generally appeals to my inner curmudgeon (yes, inner), but I would willingly go back and work my way through the menu, perhaps even having a go at the red curry.
With four glasses of wine and a bottle of still water, the bill came to €76.25.
The smart money
The daily fish special, a glass of house white and a coffee will not quite break the €25 barrier.
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