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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 24 May, 2018
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'Better BBQ than Hong Kong': The insider's guide to finding fantastic Chinese food in Dublin

From hot pots to warming noodles.

“THE QUALITY OF Chinese food in Dublin varies hugely. There is some really good quality stuff and then there are some really low quality takeaways.”

That’s how Alice Chau-Ginguene responds when I ask her to appraise the Chinese food scene in Dublin. And if anybody knows, it’s her.

The Hong Kong native has been living in Dublin for the last ten years. By day, she works as a cat behaviourist and runs her own cat sitting and behavioural therapy company. More recently, however, she has started running Chinese food tours in Dublin.

On Alice’s Chinese Food Tour, groups are invited to sample some of the best Chinese food the city has to offer and learn a little something about the history and culture behind different cuisines and cultural traditions.

Always good to be back ❤ #chinetown #asianfood #karaoke #foodie

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It’s a role she’s tailor made for. In a previous life, she worked for companies in Paris, Antwerp and Dublin in roles that involved negotiating between European and Chinese offices. Additionally, she’s married to a French national.

In short, I have spent the past 15 years explaining Chinese culture to European people and European culture to Chinese people, both professionally at work and privately to my own family.

And Irish people have a lot to learn about Chinese food.

For instance, Chau-Ginguene says that she wishes Irish people (and Europeans) appreciated the huge variety in Chinese cuisine. To illustrate her point, she tells a story.

“Many years ago, a French friend of mine was going to come to Hong Kong to visit. I said to him, he is going to enjoy all the amazing food in Hong Kong. He said he is French and nothing can shock him about food.”

“I said, ‘Oh no, you don’t know the half of it. We have a huge variety.’ He said there is huge variety in France too. I placed my bet and said I could show him ten different breakfasts during his ten-day stay in Hong Kong. I won.”

While Irish perceptions of Chinese food might be coloured by spice bags and three-in-ones, Chau-Ginguene reminds us that there are many layers to Chinese cuisine.

“We have huge regional variety,” she points out. “China is a very big country!”

“And then you have Chinese people all over the world who also have their own variety to adapt to local climate. There are some Malaysian Chinese dishes I really love and miss now, for example.”

Duck dinner

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She also misses Hong Kong cuisine, but points to Duck, a Fade Street eatery specialising in Hong Kong-style barbecue, as an example of a restaurant serving authentic, high-quality food.

“Everything in their kitchen is imported directly from Hong Kong. Every single piece of equipment and the BBQ master himself. If ever I have the flu, my husband knows how to cheer me up: he always gets me a BBQ lunch box from Duck.”

She concedes that the city has made great strides over the past ten years, but she still yearns for more variety.

“I wish there was more high end regional Chinese cuisine in Dublin,” she says. “A lot of restaurants in Dublin are generic Chinese cuisine. I wish there were high end Cantonese restaurants, Beijingese restaurants, Shanghainese-style restaurants, and so on. I really miss regional specialties.”

Additionally, she would love to see more street food options.

“Street food is very important part of Asian culture. We love to snack all day and eat on the go if we don’t have time to sit down for a proper meal. I would love to see more of that.”

As it is, though, there are some hidden culinary gems dotted around the city, most notably on Parnell Street.

Here are some of Chau-Ginguene’s favourites.

Duck, Fade Street

Chau-Ginguene has a lot of grá for Hong Kong-style barbecue on Fade Street. “The quality is better than some BBQ I tried in Hong Kong itself – I am serious!”

Lee Kee, Parnell Street

:)

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This Parnell Street restaurant specialises in Northern Chinese cuisine. Think dishes like oyster tofu soup, garlic jelly fish with cucumber, and Sichuan saliva chicken. (Ignore the unappetising name.)

Lao, Parnell Street

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Chau-Ginguene recommends coming to Lao to sample their delicious hot pots and cites it as the perfect venue for a dinner with friends.
“You pay a set price and it’s all you can eat hot pot. So many options!”

Sichuan Chilli King, Parnell Street

As the name suggests, this relaxed Parnell Street restaurant serves up authentic Sichuan food. “Amazing cuisine, lots of choices.”

Good World Restaurant, George Street

Good World Restaurant is a longtime fixture on George Street known for its Cantonese-style dim sum lunch. Chau-Ginguene is a fan.

“Dumplings are freshly made in house, some are even made to order!”

Lee’s Charming Noodles, Parnell Street

Finally, this little spot garners praise from Chau-Gingeune for its nourishing, affordable lunch.

“If you are in a rush but just need something to warm you up in this freezing weather, go to this place. Lunch is €6.50 for a big lovely bowl of noodles. It will instantly warm you up.”

Sold.

As part of the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival, Alice Chau-Ginguene is hosting a number of events including a special edition of Alice’s Chinese Food Tour and a Hot Pot Night in Lao. Tickets are available to buy now. You can follow her on Twitter here.

More: Have you heard about the hungry tree in Dublin 7?>

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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