A dim sum den off Grafton Street
What’s the story?
We're not a city (or a country) known for having all the dim sum options, but every so often a conversation strikes up online about where to get the best dim sum in Dublin and our ears prick up. We've had Ka Shing earmarked since Ernie Whalley reviewed it in The Sunday Times last year and said it was the best dim sum he'd had in 30 years in Ireland, and a reignited conversation amongst those in the know on Twitter recently confirmed it was still up there for the Asian community as one of the best.
The site it's in on Wicklow Street has been a Chinese restaurant for decades, but only became Ka Shing six or seven years ago. It couldn't be any more convenient for a mid-shopping refuel, as it's just off Grafton Street, and there's loads of seating on two floors, so it's a great option when you need food but haven't booked anywhere. Plus, dim sum. Loads of small bites of super tasty (hopefully), super cheap food. What more could we possibly need to be convinced it was worth a visit. There is a more standard menu of starters and mains, but we had the laminated picture menu in mind.
Where should we go for a drink first?
You're spoilt for choice for drinking dens around here. For a cocktail with complimentary prosecco while you wait, you can't beat The Sidecar in The Westbury, or there are some interesting concoctions being made at Dylan McGrath's Bonsai Bar. For wine there's Loose Canon, Piglet or La Cave, and for a pint try Neary's for its bar men in bow ties, or Grogan's which is the place to be on a sunny evening.
Where should we sit?
There's a front and a back room, but we preferred the back finding it a bit more atmospheric. That might have been because there were more people in the restaurant the time we sat there though. The front room does however have the bonus of a fish tank, so toss a coin. There's loads of space so if you're coming with baggage like a buggy or a suitcase you won't have a problem. They have highchairs too so the whole family can dig into the dim sum.
What's good to eat?
There are 48 different dim sum on offer, and while we're not usually fans of the food pictures on menus format it was actually quite helpful here. We managed to try 17 or 18 dishes over a couple of visits, and there are some we would definitely not recommend, like the braised chicken feet and the sweet vinegar and ginger pork feet - both about 99% bone. Taro croquettes were interesting but quite greasy, and the pork wrapped in a beancurd sheet with oyster sauce was fine but wouldn't have us running back. Everything below we really liked and want to eat again
Chiu Chow Fan Gor - Minced Pork Crystal Dumpling
Fried Radish Cake with Shrimp, Pork and Chinese Sausage
Vietnamese Style Spring Rolls
Stir-Fried Mooli Cake in XO Sauce
BBQ Pork Buns
Steamed Bun Shanghai Style
Deep-fried Mince Cuttlefish Cake
BBQ Pork Rice Noodle Roll
We also had a lot of dumplings, which started to meld into each other after a while, but they were all good, particularly the shrimp and the siu mai.
What about the drinks?
Drinks are not Ka Shing's strong point, and the wine list in particular reads like a shelf in the wine aisle in Tesco. They did say they would do corkage though, at around €15 per bottle. There's a basic beer selection with Tiger, Heineken and Tsingtao, and Irish, Calypso and Russian coffees if you're braver than us.
And the service?
Perfunctory but pleasant. There were a few instances on the first occasion where our waitress kept dropping plates on the table without telling us what they were, leaving us to call after her, pleading with her to come back and tell us what we were about to eat, but maybe she thought the picture menu took care of that.
We really liked Ka Shing, and our second visit came to €15 per person (with no drinks), which seems like some of the best value in the city right now, especially for food this tasty. We're definitely going back to work our way through the rest of the menu, and at €5-6 per dish mistakes aren't badly felt. If you're new to dim sum this is a great place to get started. Just go for a drink before or after, or stick to the beer.
12A Wicklow Street, Dublin 2 www.kashing.ie