When I heard about Hakkahan Chinese opening last summer, I wasn’t so excited, considering so many Chinese restaurants follow the same tried and true formula. But then I heard they were Sichuan focused, made their own dumplings, mentioned their sourcing, and everything on the menu was cooked from scratch – all really good stuff.
Hakkahan is in the bustling Stoneybatter area, which is already home to a bunch of good, inexpensive food options (see Vietnom in the Glimmermam’s review from a few weeks ago). Hakkahan’s owner, Ryon Wen, is “Hakka,” a subgroup of Han Chinese who originated in northern China but are now also found in southern China and Taiwan, the Internet told me. . Hakkahan’s chef, Terry Yang, is originally from Sichuan Province (and worked in Sichuan China). The current menu therefore reflects its antecedents. However, a Hakka leader will soon join the team, they told me.
I visited on a wet Tuesday evening with a lovely friend who lives a few blocks away. She is a regular customer and her only complaint is that they don’t do take-out – a deliberate decision on the part of the restaurant as everything is cooked from scratch and they feel too small to cope with the extra orders that come would result (and trust me, they would result a lot).
We started with Tsing Tao beers and a selection of starters – it was a beer type day. The wine list is short but offers well-chosen wines that will pair well with the food, including a Viognier-Antão Vaz from Portugal, a German Gewürztraminer, an Albariño and a Pfalz Pinot Noir.
Har Gao prawn dumplings were filled with prawns, bamboo shoots and applesauce and had a pleasant fresh taste – there is a bit of extra chewiness in the dumplings as they are homemade, but the filling was pretty flawless . The sesame shrimp sourdough toast intrigued me and had to be ordered, and it tasted even better than it looks. Soft and meaty prawns on good quality toast with lots of sesame seeds – the rich flavors lifted by yuzu mayonnaise for dipping.
The fresh salt and pepper calamari (as in ‘not frozen’ as is so often the case) was squeaky and tender with a light coating of breadcrumbs and fresh chili for the zing. The Pai Huang Gua was a kind of cucumber salad with mashed cucumber, garlic and chilli oil – it was tasty on its own but also acted as a welcome contrast to the richness of the prawn toast and the fried squid.
For the sector, I went a little crazy but knowing that a neglected spouse at home was hoping for a care package when I returned. The basil duck worked so well I wondered why I hadn’t come across this combination before – a rich garlic, ginger and chilli sauce added weight to the dish but allowed the fried duck pieces with their basil anise shot to shine. Mala Spicy Lamb had a nice kick of spice but also a numbing heat from the Sichuan peppers.
I’ve said it before but no harm in saying it again – always order the eggplant, especially at a good restaurant in Sichuan. That’s what turned out here – rich, sweet eggplant chunks had been crispy enough to retain their texture, while fermented kidney beans and rich garlic-ginger sauce added weight and flavor. additional complexity. Even a handful eaten cold from the fridge at 1am tasted amazing.
Hakkahan is busy, so unless you’re coming early in the week, it’s best to book. The good news is that they are planning to open a second restaurant in Rathmines and their Double Happy takeaway in Rathfarnham serves a similar menu. If you’re not in Dublin anytime soon, you’ll also find them at Forest Fest, Electric Picnic and All Together Now festivals – including demos at the latter two.
So yet another reason to visit Stoneybatter: lovely staff, delicious finer food in simple surroundings with access to great pubs afterwards for pints or dessert cocktails.
Four small dishes, three main dishes and a few Tsing Tao beers cost €106.00 – and I had enough for two dinners to go.
Tuesday-Sunday: 12 p.m.-10 p.m.
- Food: 8.5/10
- Drink: 8/10
- Atmosphere: 8/10
- Serving: 9/10
- Value: 9/10
Not just another Chinese restaurant – fresh and tasty Sichuan dishes made from scratch that will delight your palate and please your pocket.