I used to, before it was legal for me to do so, drink in a place on Parnell Street called La Mirage. It was the essence of a late 80s/early 90s NIGHTCLUB. Black walls, disco balls, humming neon, the unmistakable scent of Hai Karate aftershave hanging thickly in the air, and to drink: ‘suddy ‘n’ red’, ‘Pernod ‘n’ black’, ‘red witch’ and the vaguely dangerous ‘snake bite’. It was quite the scene.
Memories of which came to the front of my soft, middle-aged noggin upon arrival at Hang Dai this week. The are black walls, a disco ball and a neon-esque lighting situation. For a Wednesday night, it was jammers, and word is the space has been a sell-out since opening its kitschy Asian doors … in other words: it’s scenester central.
We pulled up to the bar and got the low down from the friendly barkeeps on how to traverse the menu. It’s family-style, meaning sharing plates; everything is brought out as it’s cooked. We chowed down on a generous selection and since I wasn’t wearing my usual wig and prosthetic nose disguise, the chef fired out a number of complimentary dishes, to give me an idea of the menu. The prawn toast (€6) was magic, chubby prawns tucked under a duvet of sesame seed on a comfy bed of crispy toast … very more-ish, as they say on daytime telly. Sadly, the pork dumplings (€11) were sold-out, which brought a tear to my eye, but thankfully no one noticed because it was so dark. The tears soon dried up, however, on tasting the special fried rice (€9), which was better than I had expected, lots of interestingly competing things going on there, but overall they worked well to achieve a pleasing mouthful. The scallop ceviche, soy beans, soy dressing and crunch (€12), for my palate, had a little too much soy overpowering the flavour of the scallop, and the Typhoon Shelter soft shell crab was a wee bit water-logged for my gob, the lemon mayo accompanying was tart and lovely though and I’m sure the soft shell is typically done well.
I really wanted to try the Skeaghanore Duck done four ways, like, REALLY WANTED TO, but my +1 wasn’t into the idea, so I pretended I was fine with that … RAGE.
Overall, I found Hang Dai a novel experience, worth a look-see. I’ll go back, if they’ll allow me in, to try the duck and the Chinese 5-spice cocktail a friend raves about. Staff were all in-your-face sound … like cult member recruitment levels of sound … the soundness was deafening … you may, or may not, like that. This grumpelstiltskin was reaching for the ear plugs.