CHAR’s Ultimate Guide to Taste of Dublin

Words: Shamim de Brún
Images: Instagram

June is here, and so is the ultimate Dublin food festival – Taste of Dublin with its sexy-looking dishes. We’ve consolidated all the best-looking bits into one handy article for your care and attention. So if you’re hitting up Taste of Dublin this week, then this is the list for you.

Top Five Meaty Dishes

Longanisa Battered Sausage Bites From Bahay

This bad boy is like a ray of sunshine that has been battered, fried and plated for you. It’s a posh multicultural twist on the classic battered sausage that’ll have you questioning your entire existence. In an Albert Camus way, not a Nietzsche way.

First things first, forget everything you thought you knew about battered sausages because Bahay flip the script here. When this first appeared for Me Auld Flower, it blew my mind so hard they were picking bits of my brain up off the floor for the rest of the fest. Longanisa is a Filipino sausage that’s bursting with savoury, garlicky goodness. It’s a star in its own right, but when it’s battered and served with Bahay’s garlic mayo, it’s oscar worthy.

It’s no secret that we are unshamed Stans of Bahay here, so maybe I am biased, but it will be the first thing I make a beeline for when I get through the gates. See ya in the queue.

Roast Silverhill Duck from Nan & Hakkahan

If you’re a meat eater, you absolutely can’t miss the traditional Sichuan Roast Silverhill Duck served with Duck Gravy & Steamed Jasmine Rice at Taste of Dublin.

We’re talking about Sichuan-style roast duck. Sichuan cuisine is known for its fiery, tongue-numbing, and oh-so-addictive flavours. Picture this: a beautifully roasted Silverhill Duck, its skin glistening with a perfectly crispy, golden-brown glaze. As you take a bite, the crunchiness of the skin gives way to tender, succulent meat that practically melts in your mouth. But wait, it doesn’t stop there.

This masterpiece of a dish is served with a generous ladleful of duck gravy. It’s rich, savoury, and packed with all the umami goodness you can imagine. It’s the culinary equivalent of a banging harmony. The fluffy grains of rice soak up all that delicious duck gravy, creating the kind of love match Tinder could never.

Bombay Grill Pork Ribs from Pickle

In the midst of all the foodie frenzy, this is a dish that demands your attention. Imagine sinking your teeth into succulent, juicy pork ribs that have been charred to absolute perfection. The kind of char that leaves those tantalizing grill marks and imparts a smoky, finger-licking goodness. These ribs are a carnivore’s dream come true, folks, and they’re about to transport you to a flavour nirvana this weekend.

They slather these bad boys with homemade mango pickles. It’s a game-changer. The tangy, sweet, and slightly spicy mango pickle cuts through the richness of the pork, creating a flavour explosion that will make your taste buds dance.

And let’s not forget about the dusting of toasted fennel, nigella seeds, and pumpkin seeds. It’s like a sprinkle of culinary magic that adds depth and complexity to every bite. The fennel brings a hint of liquorice-like aroma, the nigella seeds add a subtle earthiness, and the pumpkin seeds give a satisfying crunch. It’s a medley of flavours and textures that will capture you like you’re a low-level grass Pokemon against a Charizard.

Chicken Fillet Roll from The Salt Project

You’re going to want to dive headfirst into this gussied-up chicken fillet roll. We all have a soft spot for a chiccy fil. It’s part of our culture. We even have vegan versions these days. They are so ingrained in our society. This one made with all locally sourced ingredients, promises to give you that dopamine-fueled rush of nostalgia while actually being a quality meal. The Salt Project have made their name by combining modern Irish food culture with traditional craftsmanship and local ingredients. Never once has anyone tasted anything Graham made and not been bowled over. So if you’re a chiccy fillet girlie, and aren’t we all, this is the icon dish for you this weekend.

Chicken and Scallops from Orwell Road

Strap yourselves in because we’re diving into a paradise of epic proportions because mainstay Orwell Road is bringing their signature dish to Merrion Square. The Chick and Scallops gained online traction almost as soon as Orwell Road hit the streets. Surprising everyone, including the chefs themselves. And now they’re bringing it to the masses. You’ll be able to bask in the glory of what is probably one of the most innovative starters in Dublin.

You’ve got these queen scallops, cooked to absolute perfection, swimming in an intense jus that’s peppered with crunchy dehydrated chicken skin pieces giving it that extra oomph that would make even a New York food snob look up and take note. Then the chicken wing itself rounds the proverbial corner and demands to be seen. The wing chicken wing has been stuffed with a mince of its own herbed flesh. It’s like a surprise treasure trove of chicken that you think will be much more predictable than it is. Underestimate or skip this dish at your peril. You have been warned.

Top Five Seafood Dishes

Salt Cod Croquettes from Tasting Spain

Get ready for Tasting Spain’s Salted Cod & Aioli Croquettas, a true temptation for those who can’t resist the siren call of the sea and potatoes deep fried to golden perfection. They come as part of a trio, but I’m pretty sure if you asked, they’d give you three of this perfect iteration. Salted cod brings a unique depth of flavour to the party.

The salting process infuses the fish with a delightful savoury taste that’s hard to replicate. It’s like a burst of umami goodness that dances on your palate with every bite. The saltiness adds a distinct character to the croquette filling, elevating it to a whole new level of deliciousness. When cooked and combined with other ingredients, the cod becomes beautifully flaky and tender. It effortlessly mingles with the creamy elements of the croquette filling, creating a luxurious, melt-in-your-mouth experience that’ll have you swooning. Not bad for six quid. The perfect way to kick off a fish-focused food festival experience.

Goatsbridge Trout Tart from Orwell Road

Who doesn’t love a good tart? Sometimes I think they are the perfect way to eat so many foods I’m surprised other methods exist at all. Like with everything done at Orwell Road, Dan Hannigan manages to make something as simple as a little tartlet taste as complex as Ireland’s relationship with the UK.

Picture a delicate, flaky pastry crust filled with succulent, flavorful trout. The trout is fresh, it’s tender, and it’s packed with mouthwatering goodness that’ll have you salivating Homer Simpson style because it is dressed up in Chilli Ponzu. The chilli gives it a little kick. While the ponzu brings that citrusy zing that’ll have your taste buds doing a happy dance with the innate saltiness of the fish. Now when you layer in the delicate tartlet case. Which, if memory serves, is as light as air, and yet with the crunch of a fresh bag of crisps, you have pitch perfect mouthful.

“Hipon” Crispy Fried Prawns from Bahay

Deep-fried prawns are always a joy. Juicy prawns coated in a golden, crunchy armour that’s just begging for you to come and rip it open with your teeth. Nilasing na Hipon (sometimes called crispy fried drunken shrimp) is a popular dish in the Philippines. It makes use of whole medium-sized shrimp with head and tail on.

As with everything Bahay do, this is sure to be flavour-focused and jam-packed with craic. There is likely to be a marinate in the mix that will pop against the Kare Kare Roasted Peanut Sauce they list on their menu. Kare-Kare sauce is made with aromatics, peanut butter, and sometimes crushed peanuts. It gets its signature yellow-orange colour from annatto, along with peanut butter. It’s likelie Richie has his own signature version of this, but whatever combo they go for you can be sure the flavour profile will be more immaculate than the virgin mary.

Ceviche Tostada from Los Chicanos

This dish was the overall winner of Best in Show at Taste last year, and it is unlikely to have changed much. People don’t tend to tinker with perfection. It is an interdimensional multiverse of a dish that will take you places you didn’t know you needed to go. Made up of fresh, succulent fish marinated in a tangy citrus concoction that pops off right against the shaved fennel with puffed rice and sesame served on a crispy blue corn tostada. The crispy blue corn tostada is like a crispy, crunchy stage upon which the flavours of the ceviche dance and sing. The blue corn adds a touch of earthiness and an eye-catching hue that’ll make your Instagram followers drool with envy.

Ebi Katsu from Sushida

Literally everything at Sushida is fish, so it was hard to pick a winner, but it was the Ebi Katsu that grabbed me by the horns and demanded I try it. Katsu is usually served with chicken or pork but here they have opted for breaded and deep-fried prawns, and I have to say I am okay with it. More than okay with it I am abjectly here for it. So much so that I think it will be the kind of dish you tell your friends about in actual person because it smelled so good you forgot the camera eats first.

The Katsu curry bears little resemblance to Indian curries in terms of flavour. It’s a sweeter, richer flavour thanks to the variety of spices used and the soft onion and garlic flavours. The sweet flavours are enhanced by using soy sauce, bringing a delicious more-ish flavour to the dish. Technically the word katsu means “fried cutlet”, is a piece of breaded

Top Five Veggie Dishes

Hispi Cabbage from Shouk

Prepare yourselves for a low-key cult favourite dish that’ll have you questioning your carnivorous tendencies. We’re talking about a humble cabbage and how Shouk have made it into something that should be on any food enthusiast’s bucket list. Taste of Dublin gives you the time to experience the magic of a Quarter of a Hispi Cabbage Baked in a Wood Fire Oven with Tahini Amba Sauce, Chopped Medjool Dates, Spiced Cashew Nuts, Pomegranate Seeds, Lemon Zest, Scallions & Olive Oil without having to book months in advance. Huzzah, at long last, cabbage for the people.

Spudíní from The Salt Project

This is a genre-bending era-defining potato for a generation of spud enthusiasts. It’s legitimately a choose-your-own potato affair. They give you the option of The Salt Project – Ballymakenny Farm Violetta Or Red Emmalie Spudíní. And after you’ve picked your preferable breed, they are teamed with Burren Gold Cheese, Salt Project Micro-Farm Herbs, Truffle Mayo, Dave Heffernan’s Micro-Greens, and Spring Onion. If that doesn’t turn your head, there must be a problem with your neck because reading it gave me whiplash it caught my attention so hard.

Burren Gold Cheese is a cheese so rich and flavorful it’ll make you want to sing an ode to dairy. And then, we’ve got the Salt Project Micro-Farm Herbs, adding a fresh, herbaceous kick that’ll make you feel like you’re frolicking in a garden of flavour. The Truffle Mayo is a luxurious indulgence that takes this potato dish to the realms of pure decadence. It’s like a fancy spa treatment but for people who love potatoes as a form of self-care.

Kimcheese Croquettes from Chimac

Staying firmly on the potato bandwagon here, but we’re leaning into the spicier side of things. I could wax lyrical about how great Chimac’s burgers are, but I’ve done it so many times I reckon you all know. But have you tried the croquettes? When you head into them on Aungier Street or Terenure, it’s easy to just go straight for a main event a split a fies, so Taste of Dublin is the ideal time to break out of your Chimac routines and try a little something new.

That is where these croquettes come in. Spicy plus spuds and deep fried. There is no box they don’t tick. But the Gojugang mayo completes it like something straight out of Jerry McGuire.

Cacio e Pepe from Bar Italia

There is nothing more fulfilling spirally than handmade pasta unless it’s handmade pasta that is coated in quality cheese. Bar Italia is known for its elegant Italian flare. Their Cacio e Pepe is a masterpiece of Italian simplicity. Just a few humble ingredients come together to create a symphonic dish that’ll have you when Harry met Sally-ing right in the centre of Merrion Square. What could be more of a rousing endorsement than that?

Palapa Potato Salad from Bahay

No sunny food festival would be complete without a potato salad. There is something about it that feels quintessentially Irish, even though it was first introduced to Europe from the New World by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. It’s a key component of a mammy salad, and it genuinely feels like the perfect way to consume potatoes in the heat. Of which we have been blessed/plagued with this year.

Bahay, being Bahay, know this nostalgic Irishness, and they are leaning into it with their typical flare and subverting our expectations with flavour. They’ve layered in Toasted Coconut and Palapa Spiced Mayo. Palapa is a sweet and spicy Filipino condiment consisting of thinly chopped white scallions, pounded ginger, turmeric, and labuyo chilli. Now mix that bad boy into the mayo of a potato salad, and you have the metaphorical definition of a flavour bomb. A perfect veggie dish if ever there was one.

Top Five Vegan Dishes

Tofu Dumplings from Bites by Kwanghi

Behold the Steamed Chinese Greens & Tofu Dumplings with Kim Chi Paste and Chinese Black Vinegar Dressing—a dish that’s guaranteed to tantalize any vegan. The smell alone, I wager, would even tempt a carnivore down from their high horse. Imagine delicate parcels of dumpling goodness, lovingly filled with a harmonious blend of Chinese greens and tofu. These dumplings are a work of art, steamed to perfection, with a texture that’s delightfully soft yet satisfyingly chewy. Each bite will transport you straight to the streets of Shanghai, if only for the briefest moment. The perfect start to a vegan Taste of Dublin experience.

Empanada De Pisto from Tasting Spain

The Empanada De Pisto is a delightful creation built from a base of butter-free pastry filled with a rich and savoury mixture known as “pisto”. “Pisto,” is a medley of sautéed vegetables that have been cooked to perfection. Think of tender and juicy tomatoes, vibrant bell peppers, sweet onions, and aromatic garlic, all mingling together harmoniously. The combination of these ingredients creates a luscious and hearty filling that’s bursting with that life-affirming Mediterranean goodness you used to see in ads for olive oil butter substitutes in the 90s and early 00s. Of course, let’s not forget the sprinkle of fragrant herbs and spices that elevate the dish to new heights. So good they’ll make you exclaim Olé unironically.

Honey Chilly Potato Fries from Pickle

Ah we all love chips, and Pickle gets double points for being one of the few spots at Taste of Dublin to offer them. Tripple for the classic Pickle twist they’ve put on it by topping them in deliciousness. in the form of Honey, Smoked Chilli and Tomato. Sweet and spicy go together like ‘love and marriage’ and perhaps with a high success rate. From caramel siracha and beyond, we have been embracing the sweet and spicy all over the shop recently.

Technically fusing of flavours has been celebrated in cultures around the world for centuries. Even if we only discovered it at the same time as avocado toast. These Honey Chilly Potato Fries from Pickle are a dish in and of themselves or are perfect as a snack, a side dish, or even a shareable treat with your friends. They’re versatile, addictive, and simply more-ish. As well as being vegan as figg.

The Cauliflower from Shouk

A quarter of roasted cauliflower, generously covered with a luscious tahini and tomato salsa, adorned with grilled cherry tomatoes, zhug, pomegranate seeds, scallions, and parsley is the kind of vegan dish that’ll have you chanting “vegan power” from the rooftops. Imagine creamy, nutty tahini blended with tangy tomatoes, creating a velvety sauce that’s both comforting and vibrant. It adds a richness to the cauliflower that is tag teamed with the Zhug.

Zhug is a fiery green condiment that adds a kick of heat and a burst of herbaceousness. It awakens your senses and takes the dish to cult status without so much as blinking. That is the power of Zhug in the hands of Shouk masters. This is a filling badboy too and for only eight quid its a frickin steal.

Waffles from The Salt Project

So this one comes in vegan and vegetarian. Potato & Chive Waffles, Sligo Milkwood Mushrooms, Caramelised Micro-Farm Onions, Dublin Tomatoes, and optional Melted Coolattin Wicklow Cheddar. I choose to think the vegan version is the ultimate expression. These Potato & Chive Waffles are not your average fare; they are a savoury masterpiece that combines the beloved potato with the fresh and vibrant flavour of chives. The result? A waffle that’s crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and bursting with the irresistible taste of potato and herbs.

It’s a game-changer, my friends in waffle form. We just don’t get enough potato waffles in our adult lives, so any excuse to add them in, especially when they come with mushrooms! You can’t talk vegan tops and have no mushies on the list. The Sligo Milkwood Mushrooms add a touch of earthy and should bring depth and umami to every bite. They complement the potato waffles flawlessly, creating a harmonious balance of flavours that’ll have you reaching for seconds.

Top Five Gluten Free Dishes

Gun Powder Masala Dosa from Dosa Dosa

The OG stalwart South Indian delicacy has been cranked it up to eleven with a generous filling of gunpowder spice. Inherently GF Dosa is always a good option for those avoiding seitan. Gunpowder is a spice blend that’ll ignite you. Brace yourself for a mouthful of flavour with red chillies, urad dal, chana dal, black pepper, curry leaves, and garlic. Now team that up with a piping hot potato masala, and you have yourself a whole meal wrapped in the comforting hug of a dosa. Genuine joy could not be easier to attain.

Spicy Pork Ribs from Nan/ Hakkahan

Nan will be slinging succulent, finger-licking Sichuan Spicy Pork Ribs, oozing with flavour and packing a punch with not a hint of gluten in sight. Perfect. They also have a duck dish that is GF without the gravy. Their meaty skewers technically come with gluten-loaded bread, but if you ask for without the bread, then she’s as gluten-free as a celiac. So it’s a great place to kick off your gluten-free journey through Taste of Dublin. Everything from here is spice loaded, though, so be forward and forearmed and have yourself a lime-based drink if you can’t handle the heat.

Hunters Lamb Masala from Pickle

This is one of those ‘can be made GF’ rather than designed GF. I know there are many GF girlies out there who hate having to lead with the GF card. But it must be done on occasion. And this Hunters Lamb Masala is definitely an occasion. Made up of traditional Jaipuri Lamb Diced & Mince, Slow Cooked With Star Aniseed, Bay Leaf & Long Pepper, its builds on flavour, by flavour, and for flavour. It is essentially flavour that comes again as the son of a deity for our salvation. The dish is large and hearty. Perfect for feasting on while sipping a little GnT if you feel so inclined.

Hay Baked Celeriac from Orwell Road

This one is a golden googe level of GF dish. Typically a lot of sauces have hidden gluten in them and render so many fancy dishes inedible for the unlucky among us. Here every sauce is flour free and you get to enjoy the dish as the chef intended. Which is always the most fun way to indulge. This bad boy comes with pickled walnut. Which I confess has me all kinds of curious as I didn’t know you could pickle a nut. A cursory Google has informed me that they have to be pickling for more than 8 hours to render them tasty enough to eat. So you know a lot of prep has gone into this delectable dish. And you can be sure it’ll be a flavour powerhouse worth going toe to toe with.

The Cabbage from Shouk

I know I talked about this one up in veggie. But I couldn’t decide which section deserved it more and so I Soloman-ed it and split the difference. The magic of a Quarter of a Hispi Cabbage Baked in a Wood Fire Oven with Tahini Amba Sauce, Chopped Medjool Dates, Spiced Cashew Nuts, Pomegranate Seeds, Lemon Zest, Scallions & Olive Oil is that it is inherently GF. Little to no chance of contamination because not a single bit of it is subbed or manipulated to get it there. Huzzah, at long last, cabbage for the GF people. Not a trace of parsley sauce in sight.

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