The Asian Tea House is a pan Asian restaurant centrally located on 15 Mary Street, Galway. I had heard several good things about the Asian Tea House over the past year from my eldest daughter, who loves the food there. The name for some reason did not lead me to expect the great variety and authenticity that is The Asian Tea House.
Firstly, there are about 40 different teas on the menu and the teas are served in a proper Asian tea pot and mini cups. A price of, for example, €4.50 will cover your party of people at the table and the waiting staff will then refill the teapot as many times as you like at no extra charge, until the flavours have disappeared from the tea. Part of the tea ceremony is that each addition of hot (not boiling ) water will bring you a subtly different flavour from the tea. It is a wonderful aid to digestion and I recommend it thoroughly. There is also a selection of flower teas where the dried flower unfolds in a clear tea pot to make a wonderful spectacle and delicious drink. I asked if the teas were popular and was stunned to find out that they have to constantly order crate loads of it direct from the suppliers in Asia. Ask for advice if not sure where to start if you are new to this type of tea.
The restaurant is run by two partners, an Asian chef, Alan Wong, who is the head chef in the kitchen, and Galway man Terry Commons who will look after you at front of house. Every single item in the restaurant from the floor to the ceiling — furniture, crockery decorations, etc — was sourced from different parts of Asia. The driving philosophy is to do things exactly as it is done in Asia. As an example of this, I started off with moon prawn crackers and was immediately convinced that I was in for a treat with whatever was to follow. The home made moon prawn crackers are a delicate creation with delicious filling of herbs and prawn meat served with a fresh orange sauce €7; if you only order one item on the menu, this has to be it, a 10 out of 10. (These are a completely different from than the crackers you sometimes get free with a Chinese takeaway ).
Next up was Indonesian kari egg; this was a hard boiled egg wok fried with some prawns and tomato curry, and this was another great matching of flavours, €6. We had the teriyaki chicken chop, which was barbecued and delicious with its sweet and sticky Japanese sauce and salad, €6. Finally, we had a dish that was new to me fu chuk rolls, which is a combination of bean curd and prawn meat and again delicious.
We sampled two main courses; Malaysian asam udang, which is fresh white shell prawns served in traditional Malayan tamarind sauce, fresh white shell prawns, €18.50. The prawns are all cooked in their shells and I think that helps keep them tender. I ordered a serving of fried noodles (one of my all time favourite dishes ) and it was really very good, €3.50. The portion size and flavour were as good as any one would expect. The other main courses we had was Malay roti canai. This is a chicken fillet cooked in creamy coconut curry. This is a curry dish with a difference, there are pureed potatoes in the mix and as an accompaniment there are small pancakes called Roti Canai Pancakes, €17.50. We dipped the pancakes into the sauce and they just melted in the mouth.
Each table had a card with a new offering of wines for €17.50 per bottle. We chose the white, Pasquiers, which is a blend of sauvignon blanc and a not too well known grape, vermintino. The wine worked well with every dish we had.
There is a great mid-week menu with a choice of eight main courses and a generous glass of wine for €14.95. This menu is available from Monday to Thursday and it changes regularly. There is also a takeaway menu and it was good to see that all the main courses include rice or home cut fries.
I was guaranteed that there is absolutely no MSG (monosodium glutamate, a food additive of sodium salt and marketed as a flavour enhancer ) in the kitchen. Every single dish is cooked to order, using the best quality ingredients available. Opening hours are from 5pm to late, seven days a week. Telephone (091 ) 563749. The Asian Tea House is located in Mary Street, roughly across from O’Donnellan & Joyce auctioneers. The website is www.asianteahouse.ie
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