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Taste of Hong Kong

Chinese roast meats are the main attraction at this new quick stop café


14 May 2024


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Written by:

Lisa Cope

What do we need to know about Taste of Hong Kong?

Since the demise of CN Duck in Ranelagh (which still hurts, thank you for asking), and then the closure of Duck on Fade Street at the end of 2023 after a damning closure order from the HSE, Dublin has been lacking a Chinese roast meats specialist in a casual, quick eat setting. So when Taste Of Hong Kong opened a few weeks ago in one of The iLac's units on Moore Street, social media feeds started spreading the good word fast.

The seven day a week, all day opening looked like it could be the Hong Kong café-style replacement to plug the roast meats gap, so pretty quickly we felt the pull of crispy duck skin and char siu pork to see how it measured up against its predecessors. Information on the background here is scant, with staff telling us they think it's the owner's first restaurant in Dublin but couldn't be sure, and that the chef previously cooked in Duck before it closed. That's all we could pry out of them.

Where should we sit?

Wherever you can get a seat along on the right-hand side of this narrow room. There are only 16 so you might have to wait if it's busy, but they'll take your name and give you a rough idea of when to come back. You can also stand inside the door but it's tight.

What are we ordering?

You're here for the roast meats, cooked in a specially imported bullet oven which allows hot air to circulate better than a regular one, but there are a couple of other things you can bulk up your order with. The very depressing thing is that everything comes in plastic containers, with the soup containers extra sturdy and branded, so it doesn't look like this is set to change. Ideal for collection and delivery orders, less so for all those dining in. Please God let them recycle.

Duck spring rolls (€6 for two) were obviously made in house, having the sightly uneven feel of being made by hand, not machine. The vegetable, vermicelli and duck filling was pleasant, and the pastry crisp, but we've had better spring rolls in the city.

Pork dumplings (€10 for eight) were also clearly made in house, the thick doughy wrappers hiding well-flavoured, steaming pork interiors. We planned on trying one and taking the rest home, but we couldn't stop going back for more - chilli oil drizzled (or drowned) on top is a must.

Onto the main reason you're here, and the format is simple. You can either order a rice bowl or noodle soup, topped with one or two choices (two is a "double") from roast duck, char siu pork, crispy roast pork and soya chicken. You can also order extra portions of the meat as "sides". If you do like we did and get a double rice and a double soup you'll be able to try all four.

The presentation won't be winning any awards, but that's okay, you're here for the taste. The skin on our roast duck was more slippery than crispy, and we got the leg so there was a lot of bone to work around to find the chunks of juicy meat - you'll need your napkins. The char siu was wrapped in that sweet, smoky flavour punch we love so much, but some of the meat was dried out and chewy. A rice bowl comes with four leaves of just cooked pak choi draped over the top, and small plastic tubs of soy sauce are brought to the table (why not a glass bottle?) so you can dress with that and chilli oil to your tastes.

For the noodle bowl we ordered the remaining two meats of soya chicken and crispy roast pork. The chicken had the juicy texture of a bird braised in flavoursome liquid over a few hours, and the pork had thin crisp skin and tender meat, but felt a bit one note after a few pieces.

Overcooked, basic wheat-flour noodles came in a rich chicken-flavoured broth, with more pak choi and spring onions on top. It's comforting, waming food, but more bite and less sogg in the noodles would have been appreciated.

A soy marinated egg (€1) would have been so much better with a soft, fudgey yolk (this one was practically chalk).

What about drinks?

Softs and water only. Nothing to report.

How was the service?

Once you're ready to order you do so at the till, paying at the same time. Our friendly server brought the food when it was ready, and things were pretty nicely spaced for such a casual place - we thought it would all be fired out together. Anything leftover can be packed up in your boxes and taken away - you'll just need to ask for a lid.

What was the damage?

€47 for enough food for lunch for two, and enough leftovers for the same again for dinner. If you like the food this will be a very easy place to justify returning to again and again.

And the verdict?

Dublin once again has a quick-stop Chinese roast meats café, and while we're not sure the initial excitement around Taste of Hong Kong bears out in the execution, there are plenty of no frills places like it in Hong Kong, feeding the masses day in and day out. It's more Duck than CN Duck, but if you're missing the former you'll be glad to have found it.

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