1 Fownes Street Lower
At the Wellington Quay end of Fownes Street- close to the River Liffey.
My first introduction to Indonesian food was some thirty years ago in Amsterdam when I was immediately hooked, captivated, and set on fire in one fell swoop! The canals, bicycles, and Museums pretty well went by the board, for my main priority now was my next Indonesian meal in yet another Indonesian restaurant for another variation on Rijstaffel. Amsterdam is a hotbed of not just sex and the city but of Indonesian Restaurants because the Dutch colonised “the Dutch East Indies” and Spice Islands and as a result there is quite a large Indonesian population in Holland.
Rijstaffel literally means “rice table” and what you receive when you order a Rijstaffel is a large variety of small portions of different dishes – some mild – some wildly hot – all intensely interesting and varied. I came home and headed straight out to buy things like Sambal Oelek and various other “Sambals” but I had no idea really what to do with them.
In Ireland over that period we have had a profusion of Thai, Chinese and Indian restaurants but operating away quietly and highly successfully in Temple Bar since 1994 has been the Chameleon Restaurant. The Chameleon started out very simply indeed but has blossomed over the years into a plush exotic destination with its Opium Room where guests sit on the floor on cushions and dine from opium tables to its Bali Room which is ideal for larger events. The Chameleon gained a very loyal following which has seen this eclectic spot change colours to become one of the best restaurants in Dublin. Kevin O'Toole's food is accomplished and beautifully presented. He uses nothing but the best of produce - there are no shortcuts. His chicken is free range supplied by Kettlye Irish Foods, who also supply him with pork. His beef is from M & K Master Butchers who supply the Michelin starred Chapter One. His eggs are free range, his fish from Mourne Seafoods and Kish in Dublin. And so it goes on. Kevin then just adds his magic touch.
The Chameleon offers a variety of different Rijstaffels priced approximately from €25 per person upwards depending on your choice. I have been there on a number of occasions over the years and tried many varieties. There is a Fish Rijstaffel called The Sumatra which is delicious and includes eight dishes such as Otak Otak which is fried fish cake with spring onions and soy chilli dip, Ikan Bakar Colo Colo – fish baked in a banana leaf parcel with aromatic spicy paste. Cumi Cumi Goreng is crispy marinated squid rings whilst Sambal Udang are black tiger prawns with chillies, tamarind, garlic, shallots and pineapple. Nasi Udang is wok fried rice with lightly spiced shrimps. You then always get some cool fresh fruity salads such as Asinan which has cucumber, mango, and Chinese leaves, with a peanut and black sesame dressing. We generally get a different variety Rijstaffel each and share lots of dishes but there is also a Rijstaffels designed for couples – the Krakatau at €60. These are terrific value because they are complete – you get 7 dishes for two people served with jasmine rice and condiments.
We also love the Java Rijstaffel which has Sate Ayam – chicken satay, Cumi Cumi Goreng – the squid rings, Beef Rendang, Ayam Bumbu Rudjak – Irish chicken cooked in a lightly spiced coconut sauce with lemongrass and lime leaves, and, oh my God, the Babi Confit which is to die for. This is Tipperary slow cooked belly of pork in treacly ketjap manis – makes ordinary soy sauce taste like a wimp – star anise sauce. There is also a vegetarian Rijstaffel. They also have a great value Early Bird Menu at €18. Check it out - it is really different.
Oh yes, there is now a new Chameleon To Go menu.
This is the really Cool Cool Chameleon.