Special sushi rolls and a good place to drink great wine
North City Centre
185 Townsend Street, Dublin 2
What’s the story?
Ku Raudo is a somewhat under the radar, BYO sushi spot on Townsend Street, which opened in 2015 initially just serving just two dishes - a meat bento box and a vegetarian version. Soon after they expanded to sushi, noodle and rice dishes and after seeing it looking nicely busy recently on the way to somewhere else, we thought it was worth a visit. It's also open seven days a week, so great for that where to eat Sunday/Monday dilemma.
Where’s good for a drink beforehand?
We stopped into The Blind Pig, the formerly mystery location speakeasy, whose address is now on google maps (it's on Suffolk Street). After a mission to find the door (which at one point ended up in a utility closet in the ladies toilets), we were eventually directed to pull a picture frame at the bottom of the stairs and the bookcase in front of us slid open. This is properly impressive first date material. Cocktails are excellent, the beer selection decent, and the wines basic. Have a cocktail.
If you're after a good boozer there are loads around, with Doyle's, Bowes, The Long Stone and Mulligan's all a few minutes walk away. We'd head for The Palace Bar on Fleet Street, which is one of those must-visit pubs that makes you feel happy to be in Ireland. Prepare to make friends.
What’s the room like?
Like a typical Japanese sushi restaurant abroad, with wooden benches, Japanese art and randomly, love hearts projected onto the ceiling. It's narrow, cosy, and intimate, just don't have any conversations you don't want your neighbours to hear. On our visit there was no music, ensuring everyone could clearly hear conversations from other tables, which is fine unless you're discussing illegal activity or admitting to watching Love Island.
What's good to eat?
When in a sushi restaurant, eat sushi. It's not all standout, the salmon nigiri was a lot better than the tuna, and the spicy tuna roll was average, but the more elaborate rolls are very good.
The dragon special comes with Katsu prawns, avocado, capellin roe (masago), eel & a mayo sauce and was hard to follow. Special mention for arranging it in the shape of a dragon (okay it was more like a snake). We were tempted to order a second one but we'd over-ordered as it was.
The spider special was a close second, with deep-fried soft-shell crab, lettuce, capellin roe and Japanese mayo. The menu is extensive with 20 different types of nigiri alone, but we think the value is more to be had in the special rolls which are a bit more flavour packed, than in the stand alone ones which depend on the fish to be of seriously superior quality.
Salmon teriyaki soba was no better than you could make at home, but chicken gyoza and yasai tempura were both excellent, even if the dipping sauce for the later was a bit unbalanced in the direction of vinegar, but the batter was light and crisp and the vegetables perfectly cooked.
What about the drinks?
It's BYO with zero corkage charge so it's a brilliant place to take something special, even if it does suffer the fate of the majority of BYO restaurants by having terrible glassware. You can't win 'em all. Champagne and Sherry (the proper dry stuff) are great matches for sushi if you have a willing crowd. We took a Californian Chardonnay from Sandhi and a New Zealand Pinot Noir from Allan Scott that were so delicious they'd go with anything.
And the service?
Smiling and helpful, but needed to be waved down a few times, which isn't ideal for such a small place. Didn't take away from the experience though.
Quality sushi and a great place to drink good wine. The Japanese zen vibes are particularly nice when you want to step out of the Dublin bubble for a few hours, just stick to the more elaborate sushi options if you want to be wowed.
185 Townsend Street, Dublin 2