For a couple of years now the undisputed centre of the restaurant scene was over the river in the West End. Dominick Street to Sea Road had all the better places to tempt people over the bridge, from Rouge all the way up to Kai. But at last there has been a seismic shift and there is a new dining district in the heart of the city. Middle Street is Galway's newest dining destination, where you can feast on tapas in the new Cava Bodega, slurp your way through lunch in the long serving Da Tang Noodle House, or dine on modern Irish cuisine in the comfort of The Malt House. With the inclusion of the friendly wine shop that is Thomas Woodberries, I may never go over the bridge again.
It is however Kappa-ya that is my current obsession. Nestled beside Thomas Woodberries, with its door awning waving to you in the breeze, it is what you might call bijoux, seating about 20 but with amazing food served by a friendly staff. There is an informal atmosphere with an unusual soundtrack (Gloria Estefan often features ) and the menu is a tightrope walk between traditional and experimental Japanese cuisine. The original Kappa-ya sushi rolls are a regular working lunch option for my current husband. Probably not like any sushi you've had before, and though in Japan no one puts teriyaki chicken in sushi, they do here and it is very good. The rolls are sizeable and very good value especially to take out at €3.70, so you may as well have two. The prawn tempura with asparagus and mustard sauce is a particular favourite.
The traditional Japanese don dishes are always good, casual bowls of rice topped with a variety of foods. I have never been let down by one of their bento boxes, an authentic Japanese lunch box with a combination of around four small dishes. The tofu dishes are sublime with the tofu produced in house in small batches. Get there early if you want to try it as they regularly sell out. The tem-don is also very popular, a don dish topped with tempura and soaked in rich dashi sauce. Because the texture of tempura in the tem-don is not crispy, they do offer their tempura, rice, and sauce separately to customers who like their batter light and crispy.
Specials are decided by seasonality and what comes back from the market — mackerel sashimi, lobster, giant wild tiger prawns, jellyfish salad, dengaku fig and duck with hatcho miso and apple sauce. The ice-cream flavours are equally inventive with wasabi and camembert flavours on offer, the rice and ginger ice-cream and Sicilian lemon sorbet seem like safe options in comparison.
There is a new menu with some exciting new dishes from October 1 but all the favourites will remain. Delicious, affordable Japanese food, highly recommended. Oshokuji wo tanoshiminasai!
Kappa-Ya, 4 Middle Street, Galway, phone 091 865930.
Cookery classes at 37West
September is the time for evening classes, and as far as cookery classes in Galway go, Gill Carroll from 37West is the newest addition to the cookery school circuit. Gill is running two very different classes for very different audiences. The first is 'Happiness is lickin' the spoon', which will cover everyday cooking at home. She will be showing lots of her favourite cafe recipes for soups, one pot wonders, salads, and quiches, and baking simple and achievable items such as sponge cakes, brown bread, and scones.
The second class is aimed at health conscious followers, 'Healthy is the new sexy'. This will cover cooking and baking gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan dishes. There will be demos on juicing and making smoothies as well as exploring alternative ingredients such as dairy free milks, sugar replacements like agave syrup, and how to include things like wheatgrass and hemp into your everyday diet.
Guest instructors from Goodness Cakes and Bluebell Cottage Kitchen will be on hand with plenty of other experts lined up including demos from Gill Carroll herself. These two hour classes starting in October, one day a week for four weeks, promise to be both informal and practical. All recipes will be handed out on the night and, ever mindful of social media, there is a private Facebook group for continued support, to share ideas and recipes and where any further questions can be answered.
If you are interested in either of these classes you can call 091 524122 or email [email protected]