Bodkin Point, Galway's only buffet-style Chinese restaurant (as far as I know, but correct me if I'm wrong ) is situated at Galway Shopping Centre, and it certainly serves up quite a feast. Choose your table, join the queue, and fill your plate from a selection of Asian dishes. Favourites such as spring rolls, sweet and sour chicken, and pot stickers sit alongside popular exotic eats including sushi and chicken satay.
This is a big space with well spaced tables, lots of red lacquer and dark slate. There is a karaoke room as well as a full bar, clear evidence that this place was designed to suit the sensibilities of the Chinese community, and it works for the Irish too.
Soups for starters and side portions of chips and rice top and tail the all-you-can-eat experience. And there is even a good veggie selection for all the herbivores out there. You will need an extra notch on your belt... and try to time your visit to avoid the lunchtime rush. I, however, find the concept of people milling around with hot plates and small children a bit terrifying, so I was glad to see the table service option in the evening time. The dinner menu starts at 4.30pm, priced at €15.80 per person and €7.90 for kids. (Children must be under 1.5m, which is almost what I am, so fair enough, really ). There is a 'no doggy bag' policy so don't think you can feed yourself for the week with the leftovers, it's a pretty sweet deal as it stands. You can order a little at a time, so should be able to gauge well if you have the ability to finish what you have started and not needlessly waste food.
The manager here has a lovely manner and you are made to feel very welcome indeed, his friendly service raises the bar on warmth and courtesy. The menu is not especially adventurous, nor, to fill a room this size, should it attempt to be. What it does have is a very tasty and large selection of take-away classics. It sticks to tried and tested dishes that will not offend the most conservative of Irish palates – and everything we tasted was good. The food arrives piping hot as it is cooked on demand and there are proper courses for the traditionalists, soup and starters, mains, and sides. You need to go in very hungry so that you can do it justice.
The starters for me are always the best bit of any Chinese menu and great for sharing. We ordered a few different starters to share and they were all up to the standards of any other good Chinese takeaway. A clean and fresh chicken noodle soup, salt chilli prawns, crispy wontons, and various dumplings were all brought quickly with very efficient service. Our absolute favourite was that old crowd pleaser, aromatic duck with pancakes. The waitress was very helpful in explaining the ordering process and more pancakes in a cute little bamboo steamer and hoisin sauce were provided with no fuss when requested. (There are just never enough pancakes, are there? )
Now, while I personally am never going to be good at this style of eating — I'm a picker, not a packer — I can definitely see that it works for a lot of people — students, families, large groups, folks on a budget, anyone for whom a good meal depends on quantity as well as quality. People fully committed to taking the ‘all you can eat’ concept literally. For others there is the comfort of knowing exactly what the bill is going to be, no surprises at the till in this establishment.
For €15.80 a head we ate very well, but we did not eat enough. Not by a long way. There was still the Thai spicy chicken roll to try. And the battered aubergine with hot garlic sauce. And steamed sui mai. And… oh, you get the idea.
The Bodkin Point Asian Restaurant, Bar & Cafe, Galway Shopping Centre, Headford Road, Galway. Telephone: 091 564123, 091 564789.