I visited two city centre restaurants last week to see what changes they were making for their menu in 2011.
First was Asian Tea House in Mary Street. Asian Tea House has dishes from Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and China and for that reason it is unique. Another unique point is that it absolutely guarantees that it does not use any of the flavour enhancer MSG and most dishes are available gluten free on request.
Did you ever wonder why we love Asian food so much? Nearly every child in the land has had a Chinese meal before they are a teenager. I think it is to do with the smell, if you ever pass a Chinese restaurant and the fan from the kitchen is blowing out towards the street you will immediately feel the need for something. Perhaps it is the sweetness in many of the dishes, eg, one of our favourites in Ireland is sweet and sour chicken, and even our other favourite, chicken curry, has a sweetness if compared to a real curry from India. Whatever it is, we love it, just have a look at the growth of re-heatable Chinese foods in any supermarket. However I for one do not think you can reheat Chinese food, the whole point of Chinese cooking is that it is done at a mega high temperature and cooked quickly. Once cooked, the food should be served straight to the table and you get all the lovely, fresh, flavours.
The menu in Asian Tea House is quite extensive, so perhaps my suggestion might make it easier for you. Most of the following dishes are new to the menu.
Suan yoong prawns is a Mandarin dish of prawns split open and topped with garlic and ginger, it is steamed and served with salad, €7. The dish is really clean tasting and gets your taste buds moving. Siu yuk is a southern China/Hong Kong dish and is the Chinese equivalent of what has become an extremely popular dish in many Irish restaurants — roast belly of pork. It is marinated in a five spice powder, garlic, soy sauce, and I am sure some other secret ingredients, then slow cooked and served with hoi sin sauce, delicious, €9.50. For main courses I sampled Malay chilli crab claws. Everyone loves crab claws and these ones have an added taste of being wrapped in a prawn paste and wok fried in a garlic and chilli sauce, served with lots of vegetables and a real winner for me, €23.90. Another fishy dish to recommend is pineapple crabmeat with fried rice, lots of wok fried fresh crabmeat and crab claws, served with bok choy and fried rice, also delicious and costing €19.90. Finally, I had a vegetarian dish of siken tofu, which is a large serving of wok fried vegetables and tofu. The tofu was lovely and crisp on the outside and melt in the mouth inside. I think it is a real bargain at €11.50. All the sauces were mild to medium but you can order any which way you desire. Asian Tea House is going to continue with the midweek special of a main course plus a glass of wine for €14.95, but it will be expanding it to include different dishes shortly. Finally, it is closed on Tuesday night until the summer season begins.
€500 for a burger invention
Meanwhile, Boogaloo Burger on Lower Abbeygate Street recently celebrated its first birthday in business. I decided to pay a visit this week and found that since my last visit they have added a vegetarian burger to the menu, which now allows you to combine a veggie option with any of the several burger toppings. I sampled the veggie burger and it as unlike any I had before, enormous, soft, and full of great taste. Your average veggie burger is usually as tough as nails and tasteless. This is made freshly for you with all kinds of things that are good for you, eg, quinoa, cannelleni beans, jalapenos, garlic, onions, and much more. If you are a vegetarian but would like the feel of eating a great big American style burger then this is for you. I also noted that it now serves a full breakfast menu on weekends.
Boogaloo Burger is currently running a competition where customers can get creative by suggesting their own ideas for burger toppings and be in with a chance of winning €500. They are interested in what new toppings customers would like to see available in the restaurant. They currently have 17 different topping options available but would like to add one or two more to these. The idea is to see what customers would like and give it to them. Ideas can be submitted to Cathal in the restaurant and the winning entry will receive a €500 cash prize so it will be worth it for one lucky customer
Send your entries to Cathal Dillane, Boogaloo Burger, Lower Abbeygate Street, Galway.
Winner and winning topping creation will be announced in future article.