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.