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Our Latest Great Place To Eat - Klaw Poke

Our Latest Great Place To Eat - Klaw Poke

Friday 05 January 2018

I’ve always maintained that seafood restaurants are a sure path to success because most of us love fish and shellfish and consider it something of a treat when eating out. Yet, unlike our Spanish and French cousins, who cannot get enough of the bounty of our clean Irish waters, many still have that hangover from the old days about cooking our poisson at home – unless its battered or crumbed in a box. My mother used to say “you can’t get the smell out of the house”, while my brother-in-law hid ‘his’ knife and fork every Friday in case it was contaminated by getting anywhere near a denizen of the deep.

Fish is not cheap and many of our seafood restaurants, while very good, are on the higher end of the price scale. Having previously had Rock Lobster restaurant, first in Donnybrook and then moving on to the upmarket Harvey Nichols in Dundrum Town Centre, Niall Sabongi changed course from formal dining a couple of years ago and, since then, has been on a mission, very successfully I might add, to make fish an accessible everyday choice.

He first opened Klaw in Temple Bar, a tiny 12-seater space on Crown Alley, a couple of years ago, which soon had the hipsters, blipsters and tourists, shucking and sucking on oysters, before klawing their way through lobster rolls and crab, as though there were no tomorrow. Sabongi has since expanded his brand with two new restaurants, the first, Klaw Poke on Capel Street, another sassy little spot combining what Klaw does in Temple Bar with Hawiiaan style 'poke bowls'.

There are no kitsch girls in Hula Hula grass skirts at Klaw Poke, festooning you with floral garlands to the strains of ‘she wears red feathers and a huly huly skirt’, but you will get a warm ‘aloha’, and their cheeky slogan here is ‘fancy a poke’. Traditionally the 'poke bowl' (pronounced poke-ay) has chunks of 'raw' tuna marinated in soy and sesame. ‘Poke’ is basically a ‘cut or slice’ rather than an actual fish – but all types of seafood are now used. A cross between East and West, with Japanese and other South East Asian flavours blending with traditional Hawaiian sweet pineapple, it's a healthy casual fast food, which can’t be bad.

We bagged ourselves a prime spot on two long school benches beside the ‘glassless’ window, which brings the atmosphere of the street and the colourful passers-by into the restaurant. A couple sat on stools with their dog (dog food and water facility in doorway) on the other side of the window, as Bayveen and I, arming ourselves with two glasses of chilled Picpoul de Pinet, kicked off with a skillet of great clams, sauteed in garlic and chilli with smoked bacon and sherry, finished with Heirloom tomatoes from Swords and served with crispy toast and lemon.

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