Asian Street Food Kitchen
3 Dalys Place,
091 450 147
Serving lunch and dinner 7-days a week from 12:30am – 10:30pm.
The fun is just beginning when it comes to the constantly evolving world of food in Galway and this new Asian restaurant, Papa Rich, might just be the tip of the iceberg.
We moved back to Galway mid-2008 after a 15 yr stint in the US and a year in Switzerland. When we landed, aside from it being an unusually wet summer, the choices we had when eating out in Galway waned on the edge of well-established tourist traps to a small handful of decent eateries.
It was always easier, cheaper and tastier to eat at home.
I’d venture to say that now, almost 8 years later, we are just spoiled for choice when it comes to picking our favourite restaurants, bars and cafes. There are even one or two hotels that offer decent grub – and that is practically unheard of!
First though, can I hear a ‘hell yeah’ for the little effort that is being made to this section of town? I know Galway is not big enough to have a Chinatown, but if you swing around from Asiatic grocery store over near Sally Longs, all the way down to Papa Rich in Woodquay, you hit a plethora of Asian businesses. If only someone would open a Korean restaurant – we’d be all set!
So where to start with this little gem of a restaurant? Well, there is a story, of course, behind it. And it all starts with us struggling to find a decent Chinese Restaurant. We lucked out with Japanese Food because we have Kappa Ya and every time I want my Sushi fix Wa Cafe is the only place I’d go to … but a decent Chinese takeaway? Not easy at all to find. They all have gloopy corn-syrupy sauces and almost every dish tastes the same. Yeuch.
Needless to say, when we discovered the award winning Asian Tea House, we just stopped looking. To dine in, or carry out, it fits the bill every time. Well, at least it did. But then a few months ago, we noticed a dip in the taste and quality of the food and started to get a little disenchanted with it. So we tried out a new place on the docks, where Bar 8 used to be, called Neo. Also delicious and designed as a carry-out where you can dine in. In other words, everything comes in cute little takeaway boxes and you dump it into a bowl yourself if you decide to dine in.
All well and good, but then less than a few months later, we see the flashing ‘open’ lights of Papa Rich go up and could not wait to taste their wares – only to find out that co-owner and executive chef Kevin, worked previously at both the Asian Tea House and Neo.
Galway is so small guys and dolls. You can taste the difference when a good Chef moves around, and as long as you can keep following the ones you love, then you should have no problems!
A lot of work has gone into the renovations of this little eatery. Papa Rich is located in Woodquay, above Bar an Chaladh, where Lunares Tapas Restaurant used to be. If you are familiar with McSwiggans, just stand with your back to their main door and look to the left and up a little.
Traipsing up the stairs is enough to whet ones appetite as the smells from the kitchen lead the way into the very comfortably decorated dining room. To get the nitty gritty out of the way, the most expensive item on the menu is ten euros. Yes. €10. So, lets just say, for the leaner months of your wallet, this is a welcome relief to all of us!
With open arms, we are greeted and seated by Rebecca, co-owner with her chef husband Kevin. This gorgeous couple from Malaysia have taken the brave and crazy plunge into entrepreneurship after years of working in the industry for other people.
‘The time was right. We had lived in Limerick for about 15 years and just wanted to do our own thing. We knew Galway was the right choice for us, and once we started looking, we found this spot pretty quickly. It was meant to be” said Rebecca. “Right now, we are in the honeymoon phase and our daughter Ruby, 18 moths old, is spending a lot of time with her Nana (my Mum Rachel) in Limerick. Once things are running smoothly we are looking forward to a nice balance of work and family time!”
Papa Rich’s attentive staff honed in on the tweens immediately, helping answer their menu questions. Rebecca explained that everything is cooked from scratch in the kitchen (by her husband Kevin) so it might take a little while longer than traditional Asian restaurants.
We had plenty of time so settled in to our comfortable seats and watched the Saturday lunch crowd fill the 40 ish seat restaurant.
Now, any restaurant that has a shiny large bottle of Sriracha sauce on the table is going to lure me in, but it also raised an eyebrow. Himself wondered if that meant we had to ‘add our own heat’ which we could say is the norm for a lot of the Asian restaurants here in the west, as many establishments have adapted the menu to suit the tastebuds of the Irish. Note to readers … we did not need it!
The menu has little red flames after each item, alerting the diners to the level of heat they should expect, and once you choose 5-flames (and eat the dish of course) your photo is added to their ‘wall of flame’.
Rebecca rambled off a few specials of the day but it was a unanimous decision – Calamari to liven up the tastebuds.
As you can see from the photo, there was barely time to take a photo. I often regret bring the kids with me, as they have no patience when it comes to waiting for anyone to take a photo!
The freshness of the Calamari, dredged in breadcrumbs and fried lightly, was sublime and the crunchy cabbage and carrot slaw drizzled with a light coconut and peanut dressing – also delicious.
There were a few referencers to ‘Grandma’ on the menu so we asked Rebecca what that was all about:
“Grandma’s curry, is inspired by Kevin’s grandmother. She is such a good cook. She cooks food and the taste will make memories as Kevin would say! A lot of our dishes are inspired by family recipes, Kevin’s mum, his grandmother, and my mum (Rachel) too, oh and also his grandpa’s recipe for the sauce on the BBQ RIBS, except Kev ads a bit of a sneaky twist to it!”
You gotta love a restaurant that involves the whole family. Rachel and Kevin live only a short hop from the city centre and her aunt and uncle live nearby too and offer extra support; This is truly a family-run restaurant!
Of the four main courses we ordered, each one was quite unique in the sense that all sauces and broths were very different and we all ‘had’ to share.
I am sure you are more interested in the crispy Chicken (above dish), which was gorgeous, but the real winner on the plate here was the onion slaw. We all love raw onions at Chez Wise, but this was unlike any slaw we had ever tasted before. It was a combo of green, white and red onions, with a nice coating (but not smothered) of home-made sweet chili sauce. Now, here’s the thing about sweet Chili sauce.
Its like Asian Ketchup – and I also hate ketchup. This had such a unique fresh taste, I was just delighted to scoff down the slaw. And, incase you are worried about the after effects of raw onion (on your breath or otherwise) fear not, there was enough vinegar to treat the onions, so the sharpness had dissipated and all that was left was sweet sweet crunchy yum! I will be asking for the onion slaw on the side next time I go back.
Himself had one of the Noodle Bowls, because this was something that is missing from other Asian restaurants in town. They either don’t serve them, or the broth sucks; Not so at Papa Rich.
Minced Pork and Prawn dumplings with Asian greens, Dan Dan noodles and a rich broth makes this the best €10 bowl of yum in town. Sweet mother is was spicy at only 2 flames – this was when we gave each other the happy nod of understanding. These guys are serving and selling their food according to how they think you should eat it. They are not quieting the flavour or flame and woo hoo … it was delicious right to the last fought-over drop!
Another dish, which was a huge hit with the kids, was this peanut sauce curry like dish. Battered Prawns, with mixed shredded veg, cherry tomatoes and pineapple all smothered in a spicy Vietnamese peanut sauce. There was plate licking going on here lads; I was mortified.
I pine for a decent Pho. But again, nowhere in the city is serving a decent bowl of rich broth and noodles … until now that is. When I originally took a look at Papa Rich’s menu, my eyes just stopped right here on this dish and I knew it would be every bit as tasty as I needed it to be. It is not labeled as Pho. It is a Spicy Vietnamese Noodle Bowl … but it’s Pho enough for me!
I chose to have Prawns with the Ho-Fun noodles and it came hopping out of the kitchen .. with Asian greens, mixed veg, plenty of coriander, lime leaf, basil, and mint in a gorgeous rich broth .. and some of their (need to buy some!) garlic chili paste. Oh sweet divine mother I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was just bliss. Every bite. Every drop.
Food like this nourishes the heart and soul. Your eyes have feasted on pretty food, the service is attentive and not at all intrusive, and the water bottles were constantly kept full, just incase your choice of ‘flame’ was too brave.
And as if that was not enough, and there is no mention of it on their menu either, we were presented with a sampling of desserts. I, not having a sweet tooth, could not resist the homemade ice-cream with peanuts and oreo crumbs on top. More plate licking followed.
You do not need any excuses to go to Papa Rich for lunch – especially if you are working in town, at NUI Galway, or at the hospital. It’s a short walk in to Woodquay and the lunches are flying out of the kitchen – so tell your friends and co-workers! I can imagine if you were visiting a friend or family member, ill in hospital, that those broth soups would be a welcome relief from hospital food! Please take note, if I am ever in hospital, and you are coming to visit me, this is what I want!
As we were leaving, I noticed one of my work colleagues enjoying a delicious lunch with her hubby and was delighted that word has already gotten out about how excellent this new restaurant really is.
If I have not convinced you, why not check out the comments on Trip Advisor? I am going to put a review up there too … and I rarely do that!
That’s all for now guys and dolls … let me know if you try it out.
My day starts so calmly. The most beautiful sunrises can be experienced in Ireland as soon as Autumn’s first blush occurs. A life-long early bird, I usually stumble out of bed somewhere between half five and six o’clock every morning and assuming there has not been a deluge of rain throughout the night and carried over till dawn … this image above is typical of what greets me daily at that hour. We are noted in these parts for having beautiful sunsets … you have surely heard the song, no? Well, I think it is high time someone wrote a song about our sunrises too.
Blackberries have been ripening in our back fields since the last week in July. We have picked and packaged them lovingly in the freezer and have a few more weeks of preserving ahead of us. We will be making chutneys, jams, jellies and lots and lots of pie filling. I think it’s time for a bigger freezer!
We have had an excellent summer. Sure, I was bogged down for several weeks finishing up my thesis for college, but the last few weeks, before the kids went back to school were just bliss. We spent a lot of time traipsing about meeting old and new friends for fun frolics about the countryside and even squeezed in a spot of fishing with family.
Now that the weather has turned, and Autumn is well and truly here to stay, all the colours around me seem richer and filled with flavour. The markets and grocery stores are still heaving and groaning with a bounty of fruit so time to get out and load your shopping basket with it all while it’s still in season. See the next issue of Nuacht Chlair for a gorgeous recipe for a late summer Clafoutis.
Now that you have your ducks in a row and your basket is brimming with berries … I think it is time for a little reward. Earlier today, I shared a photo of a Blackberry Bourbon Old Fashioned .. and was bombarded with emails and notifications requesting the recipe. Here’s the thing guys and dolls, especially when it comes to drinks … if you taste it and like it, its perfect. Keep that in mind when you foray into the world of lovely libations.
Blackberry Bourbon Old Fashioned
Makes one drink (but who likes to drink alone?)
2 oz of Bourbon
2 tsp brown sugar or honey (honey dissolves quicker)
1 Tbsp Blackberries, more if you like the fruit
2 dashes of bitters (I love Rhubarb bitters)
2 slices of orange, saving the rest of the orange for juice
Lots of ice
First, macerate the blackberries in the brown sugar. Dump them into a glass and add the slice of orange and muddle it all together. Drop in a few dashes of the bitters, add your Bourbon and stir. Squeeze the remaining orange juice and stir. Taste and adjust sweetness or citrus as desired.
Fill the glass with ice. All the way to the top. Stir and then drink. Use a spoon to eat all the blackberry bits once you get to the bottom of the glass and always, always, always eat the orange slice. It’s chock full of Vitamin C after all.
One small note to make here. This can be made with Irish Whiskey too and it tastes equally delicious but quite different.
And in a few weeks, I’ll be making the exact same drink only with boiling hot water, to ward of any colds or hint of flu that might be threatening and goes hand in hand with the change in the seasons.
Ok … enjoy every bit. If, like me, you have just surveyed back-to-school chaos, you deserve it. And on a parting note … one more photo to help you settle in to your weekend slumber …. just watch the sunset right outside our door.
That’s all for now guys and dolls …
Weeds. They are the most annoying thing, even for gardening experts. Even those with the greenest of thumbs will curse the blasted weeds that – at this time of the year – rule the ridges of the garden or allotment.
Mary from Athlone was asking exactly how much ‘gardening’ has to be accomplished for the 3 month duration of this little competition we are participating in. Mary mentioned I was very fortunate to have a husband who is not only green-thumbed but also very capable of turning all he sows n’ grows into something lovely for supper.
I do like to be reminded on a regular basis how lucky I am, and occasionally I feel like I should remind himself of just how lucky he is. You see – I have a confession to make. I am an absolute nightmare to live with these days.
In the throes of wrapping up a 15,000 word thesis I find myself waging a war with procrastination (hence the excess blogging). I have resorted to extreme measures here guys and dolls – I am sewing. Like, buttons on shorts, darning socks, holes in t-shirts that should be tossed but there are ‘my favourite shirt maaaawwwwmmmm’ … hows that for avoidance?
It is like the last five years of learning how to write and then learning how to be a journalist all comes down to this last bit of writing …. and I’m as blocked as a port-let at the races.
Today, he just got home from work and is, bless his lovely cotton socks that have been bleached white and darned perfectly, going to take the kids to the park to fly their kites … far far away from me and my laptop.
In an effort to show my appreciation of his willingness to give me a few hours of quite ‘writing’ time … I pottered about the kitchen this morning and made a late lunch for everyone.
This might seem strange that I am even mentioning it .. but truth be told, I’ve done very little cooking these past few months as I have been buried alive in books and newspapers and writing assignments ….
Jack, aged 9: “Mom, can you even cook?” and a slight look of worry overcoming his always hungry little face.
Lulu: “Are you cooking weeds?”
The thing is …. I’m a shocking bad gardener. I do excel in weeding and lawn mowing skills though. But when it comes to green thumbing it .. well, all I usually have to do with the plant or seed in question is ‘get involved’ and it will surely meet its untimely demise.
So now that we have a few GIY projects on the hop, I am finding that I have to work closely with the kids and having a gardner advising us … is no bloody fun. He is also certain I will kill his vegetables.
Today I decided to cook my weeds for our lunch. Just to show that even if I do unavoidably kill all our growing projects….I can still feed the kids a nourishing lunch.
Nettles are so easy to cook. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil with a teaspoon of salt. Dump nettles into the pot and turn the stove off. Leave for ten minutes. Strain into a colander and remove the largest pieces of the (now softened) stems.
Chop the nettles roughly then add butter, salt and black pepper.
Now, while this is lovely on its own just like this … I suggest if you are trying to get your kiddos to ingest it, best to add it to the mashed potatoes. They will eat it, they will love it and they will all be back looking for more.
When I was plating up our lunch earlier today I had trouble making everything look good on the plate and I am a firm believe that if it looks like you made an effort then the complaints from the peanut gallery will be less … so I had slow cooked Pork, which was brown and slathered in a green marinade (horseradish leaves, leek stems, garlic, parsley, nettles) which had turned a dirty looking black green …
The cabbage, pears and onions I had cooked earlier too, as a side dish, looks gorgeous when you start off the cooking process, but the reason it is so good (just sautéed onions, cabbage and slices of pears in a little olive oil, salt and pepper) is that once it starts to sizzle on the pan you turn the heat down, cover it and let it cook down to nothing … it even caramelises a bit.
But then it goes from looking lovely (like the above) to turning, you guessed it, brown.
So, I had a lot of brown on the plate and was sure, due to the lack of salad on the plate, that the Chefs discerning eye(brow) would be raised .. happy and all as he might be that I had made the effort to cook for him.
So I worked a little harder …
It reminded me of a couple of blog posts (or maybe Tweets) I had seen a few months back from another busy Mum (Sineád over at Bumbles of Rice). She called them #Barefaced dinners and it shed light on what she served her family for supper every night for a few weeks.
I know from personal experience impression that (as a food blogger) many readers presume us to be eating gourmet food every night. So she uploaded her week of evening meals in photos and encouraged her readers and fans on Facebook and Twitter to join in the fun. At the time I was unable to join in the fun because of a shoddy internet connection … but I have since followed up and read the blog posts.
Food is huge part of our WiseWorld here in Galway. We grow it, raise it, chase it, kill it, cook it and eat it and then we do it all over again. While I do have a chef-in-residence to do the cooking, the flood of photos in my Instagram feed is what sustains us … and I am the one that takes the time to arrange it on the plate…and trust me … I spend very little time arranging.
OK – back to the
sewing Thesis writing … and I’m sure I’ll be back soon again as I still have 15 more days to procrastinate!
PS – in an effort to be truly #barefaced here … Ron decided against the park and kite flying plan because he did not want to fight any #raceweek traffic, so he stayed at home all afternoon with the kids and I have been banging my head against the wall trying to get a bit of peace and quiet around here. Best laid plans and all that ….
They all say that theirs is the best lamb you’ll ever taste. Every sheep farmer I’ve ever met will look you square in the eye and spin you the same sceál .. “Certified organic, free range over several hundred acres of mountains, by the sea, fed on a healthy diet of bog heather and organic meal” this is the best Lamb you are ever going to taste.
And most of the time, it appears, they are right.
A few weeks ago we sampled a few lamb chops from the Calvey family farm in Achill, County Mayo, which was pretty spectacular. That spurred another farming man from Leenane, named Bernard King, to track me down at work the other day asking if I’d consider trying a bite of his late season hogget; A beautiful leg of lamb indeed.
When I stole a few minutes to chat with Bernard about his sheep rearing and lamb selling business, I could tell from the look on his face that he was not overly excited about the way things were going. That same afternoon I read this article about Beef farmers getting into Sheep farming because they can command a higher price but it kind of left me feeling like we are dangerously close to heading back to ‘rip off Ireland’ and we need to make smart choices now more than every with the limited amount of weekly income we have, not to mention show our support for the existing Sheep farmers who are not ripping us off.
“I’ve nearly 900 ewes roaming around 500+ hectares of IOFGA certified organic mountain land out near Leenane. I can tell you now, you are going to love this Lamb, because it is a beautiful animal.”
Bernard stressed his frustration at trying to sell to restaurants as all they want is the rack of lamb or leg of lamb. Well, the chefs are ordering those cuts just to cater to what the public are demanding, right?
When was the last time you saw and ordered a piece of lamb on a menu at a restaurant? Other than the standard three chops on the plate or Sunday roast, you’d be hard pressed to find a lamb shank, or even a stew with a succulent hunk of lamb simmering. I’ve seen lamb meatballs once on a menu in Mayo and Kai Cafe in Galway here just recently started serving a Lamb Burger (it’s a beautiful thing) but for the most part … we seem to be leaving the rest of the lamb out in the cold, so to speak.
And the butchers are no better. I remember, when living in the US, we could purchase rolled lamb neck (very inexpensively) on a daily basis, no special order needed and lamb shanks were available all year round too, and also quite cheap. A shout out here to John Tormey’s Butcher shop in Galway as he does carry Lamb shanks almost all year round.
But again, if there is no demand, and we are not using the cheaper (and obviously less popular) cuts of lamb at home then there is no point in the butchers stocking up on items they will have to creatively cast aside later due to lack of interest.
Offering up this beautiful protein source at €9 per kilo (cheaper than any and all the grocery stores) Bernard works with a local butcher, Tommy Lydon from Maam, and can fit a whole lamb into ‘the three drawers of your freezer’. They operate on a kill-to-order basis so its not like you need to save your pennies for any specific time of the year, you can call him up and place your order whenever you want. Bernard has not yet started using a courier service so I told him to connect with the folks over at OldFarm Pork in Tipperary because they have been using a courier for the last year with great success. Incidentally, if you are looking to buy yourself a bit of free range pork then look no further. They even offer pig rearing courses and have a few extra beds at their farmhouse so you can make a little mini-break out of it.
“I know this is the best tasting Lamb in the country. I know that once people taste it, they will love it. I hope that people will recognise the value for money in what they are getting when they order this meat.”
We wholeheartedly agree with Bernard. At €9.00 per kilo for certified organic lamb raised outdoors in a completely free range mountain environment .. well its a no brainer. Product labelling, transparency of food origins, knowing and trusting that the food you are eating has not been injected with growth hormones or fed a diet of crap ….. all of this matters.
We decided to throw our leg of lamb on the big green egg. A quick rub down with very coarse salt and black pepper, a bit of smoky Spanish Paprika, some citric acid (available at all pharmacies) and raw cane sugar, we left it sitting out for about two hours (to come to room temperature) before throwing it on the glowing coals.
At 2 kilos in weight it took just under one hour to cook. The citric acid and sugar (both small amounts and equal parts) gave the char that extra special zip. It was the kind of stick-to-your-teeth yum …. and with a piece of meat like this, you really do not want to overcook it. The outer pieces work well for those who like everything well done and by the time you get a third of the way in … well, it’s just gorgeous.
From the above referenced article in the Irish Independent earlier this week “…. Last week, a leg of Irish lamb in Tesco cost €12.99 per kg and Irish lamb loin chops cost €18.99 a kilo. In Dunnes Stores, a leg of Irish lamb was priced at €9.29 per kg and Irish lamb loin chops per kg were €15.99. In Lidl, a New Zealand-sourced leg of lamb cost €8.99 per kg and its Irish Lamb loin chops were priced at €16.19 a kilo … “
So what are you waiting for … clear out your freezer guys and dolls.
That’s all for now folks.
PS – I have a few other ‘cooked’ photos but due to the fact that the internet is an absolute nightmare here at the house – they will have to wait unlit later to upload. Hard to imagine that we live only 4 miles from Galway city – it is 2014 – and we have a non-existent broadband service. First world problems, I know.
Call us nerds if you will, but spending the evening curled up with a book by the fire is not a bad way to unwind after a crazy day at work or school.
A lot of times, the books we reach for … are cook books. Some tell more than a story of food and many are love stories – be it a love for food or family. They all have the power to whisk us away to another place, albeit it temporarily, allowing us to take a mental break from our daily dose of stress and worry.
Last night, we had supper at Kai Cafe in Galway. Four or five times per year, Jess Murphy, who in our humble opinion, is Irelands most innovative female Chef, takes recipes from her favourite cook books, and creates an evening of excellence in food exploration for her customers.
She challenges herself and her crew to stay true to the recipes in the book, pushing her right out of her comfort zone and hoping to heck that her cult-like followers, who dine frequently at Kai, will appreciate her efforts.
Last night, Jess cooked several recipes from Roberta’s pizzeria in Brooklyn, NYC. Their book is filled with quirky recipes ranging from the three-cheese-but-mostly-Talleggio cheesy pizza to Tripe stew and Parsley cake for sweet treats.
I am not sure how Jess made this menu work – but she and her team pulled it off deliciously.
The cost, to attend is €35 per person and possibly one of the best ways to take the plunge and try a few new dishes. Everything is served on large platters and shared at communal tables, so you can take as little or as much as you like of each taster plate. This works well because sometimes these multi-course suppers offer lots to choose from. This way you remain in control of how much you want to scarf. . . most likely all of it.
Next month, Jess is featuring our book, The Chef and I, at her Cook Book Club.
This is bound to get interesting because Ron, ‘aka the Chef’ is a total bad ass control freak .. so he is going to be all up in her business that day making sure that everything is just right … ha ha .. not really.
He does plan on lending a hand that afternoon to help do the dishes etc. but Ron trusts Jess – she knows his style and we are certain she and her crew at Kai will do a stellar job recreating his recipes.
A few weeks ago, Jess and her husband David, who runs Kai cafe with her, came over for supper and we perused the pages of our book to see which items we might share with Jess customers. Many of whom we know, because Galway is a small city, but also many who have never heard of us or tried Ron’s food.
The menu might look something a little like the items listed down below but it is still not set in stone …. and for our American friends and family, sorry to drag you through a Rondo’s revival … but these recipes are still ‘da bomb’ and Ron is so excited to be able to share them with our friends and family in Galway.
BBQ Ribs served with Coleslaw and Chorizo Mac n’ Cheese
Wise Irish Coffee
If you would like to attend … please phone them at 353 (0)91 526003 or drop them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your table.
Ron and I look forward to seeing you there!
I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
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About the Chef
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SHE WRITES, HE COOKS, THE KIDS MAKE A HUGE MESS