It’s hard to believe but I’ve been living in Dublin for over a year now and it still amazes me how lost I get or even how little I know about my surroundings sometimes.
When the summer months came around, I decided to ditch the bus and started walking into work which takes me exactly one hour on the dot from my door to the my office door.
My path is fairly straightforward and I’m never jealous when I see the backlog of traffic pulled up at Harold’s Cross that continues all the way down the canal.
Recently on my walk home, I noticed a restaurant at Harold’s Cross that I was almost sure was brand new. It’s pale-grey, almost white shop exterior sprung out at me and I was messaging the lad’s group chat and my sister to make sure I wasn’t late to the party.
“That’s been open for ages, Darragh”, “open your eyes, ya dope” were the two most noteworthy responses besides the very simple ‘nos’ that I was getting in abundance.
I still wasn’t satisfied and even went as far as messaging the place’s Facebook page to ask them how ‘new’ they were.
“Thanks for your message. We have been open since 2013 and it will actually be our 5 year anniversary on the 26th of August,” I was told.
HX46 sounds like a complicated honours maths equation and like any good maths sum there was one thing I couldn’t get my head around about it- how did I miss it all this time.
It’s a pan-asian restaurant and the Asian part comes to the forefront around lunchtime-ish and stays for the rest of the evening.
Considering it’s five years since this first opened and there had been no review on the site, this is my HB present to HX.
It was Thursday, herself was up and I had completely forgotten to book the restaurant but assured myself and her that it would be okay.
From first noticing it, I had glanced at the doors of the restaurant every day on my walk home and there was never a queue out the door so I thought to myself it should be okay.
It was not okay.
There was one table left and at 6:10, it had our name on it. If we had gotten there at 6:16, we would have been left waiting like the two girls who came in shortly after us – sorry.
We were put at a table closest to the counter and the counter was right next to the kitchen itself. It was noisy but not so much that we couldn’t have a conversation.
It’s a tiny establishment but within the small restaurant lies around 8/9 tables, four of which were lined up in a row beside ours.
It was too tight of a squeeze if I’m honest.
One trip to the bathroom by a gentleman beside us at one stage nearly resulted in our food landing on the floor. It wasn’t his fault, he probably had a gap of his waistline to work with.
Herself was sitting on the comfy cushions on the inside while I was left with the the rock hard chair on the outside. It was uncomfy on my back and reminded me of and resembled the school chairs that were made so that you couldn’t relax.
So, no matter what way I slouched or straightened, I felt agitated in my seat.
This uncomfortableness made picking food all the more easier, because already I wanted to get in and out of the place as soon as possible.
Maybe I was being grumpy (it was Thursday and I had just come back absolutely drained from a lads holiday on the Monday) but looking at the menu took my mind off that immediately.
The thirst was getting the better of both of us too and two cokes were ordered along with our food – the thirst came over me again halfway through the starter and I ordered another coke too.
The service was top class from the get-go, less than a minute after our order, we had cutlery and drinks.
And about ten minutes later, we had our starters:
Spicy Tempura Calamari and Crispy Salt and Chili Chicken:
The chicken was wolfed down by myself and it was only when I had finished it all that I realised that it had that bit of a spicy kick that would stay in my mouth until the main course came out.
It was the proper chicken that should be used in every spice bag in Ireland and the portion was massive. If some rice and a few veggies had been thrown in along with it, it would have done as a main course.
Same with the calamari. The squid was just bursting to get out of its crispy coating and filled up the plate the same as chicken.
A starter between the two of us would have sufficed and it was something we only realised when we were produced with our main course.
Korean Honey Chili Sauce with Chicken and Black Pepper Sauce with Beef:
It probably comes as no shock that I’m not really a vegetable type of man. I force myself to eat carrots, broccoli and cauliflower on a daily basis but I don’t enjoy it, no matter what kind of spices I add to it.
But with the beef, I had no choice because the meat was sort of disguised underneath the veggies. It was either pull the whole thing apart, make a mess and look like a two-year-old discovering how to use a fork and knife for the first time or just scoop up the fork and horse it all in.
The sauce wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would be and I could have done with adding an extra flame or two to it upon ordering.
The meat was really good and there was a good level of meat to veg ratio for my liking. Not many restaurants follow this procedure. With dishes like this you’ll find that the plate is covered in mushroom, peppers and onions but take all that away and you’re left with 4/5 chunks of meat.
This was not the case, the delicious beef was placed in every space around the plate meaning that whether you are a meat lover like me or you rather the veggies a bit more – like all those other weirdos in the world – you’d be more than satisfied with the portion.
However, because of the size of it, it could have done with a bit more sauce in my opinion. I found the beef and veg absorbed a lot of the sauce meaning the rice sometimes had to fight for its place to swim in it.
The presentation was top notch though and my photo skills probably doesn’t do it justice.
I wasn’t having the Korean Honey whatsoever. It just tasted a bit funky for my liking, even the meat didn’t taste like chicken anymore when it was laced in that stuff which was off-putting.
She was loving it and I guess that’s what makes us Yin and Yang.
The noodles were a welcome break from the rice too and they suited the dish in fairness.
I didn’t taste any difference between the chinese cabbage and what mammy used to put alongside the bacon every Saturday when we were growing up either.
Herself was making out as if there was world’s between the two but personally I think she was lying to make herself sound like Gordon Ramsey. You grew up on the same cabbage as I did, give over.
We both agreed that that dish wasn’t as spicy either despite its one flame mark. In fact, the starters probably gave more of a tingle to the throat than the mains which was disappointing.
In saying that, that’s not our fault nor the restaurant’s fault. Take Papa Rich in Galway for example. Anything more than one flame there would have me tearing up and reaching for the jug of water.
One restaurant’s one can be another’s four, so it’s probably good to ask how spicy on flame is when you’re faced with the task of ordering.
But, couldn’t argue with the meal overall. We both left like a quarter of the dish behind us and that was down to the stomper of a starter.
Also, although I’m not the biggest fan, we both agreed that the freshness of the veg was a key factor in the meal and would be instrumental in bringing anyone back for a second time.
We normally always find room for dessert no matter how full we are but the selection at HX46 just didn’t scream out at us.
The desserts were on show on the counter right beside us but even if they had been left on our table on display, we probably would have skipped them anyways.
It’s not that they didn’t look nice because they did, they just didn’t make me go “oh, that sounds delish, must try that”.
HX46 is not take your breath away, it’s not a restaurant you go to for a special occasion or because you’re in the mood for a celebration.
But I’ll tell you what it is and it’s the reason that it has remained open for five years and we’ll remain open for another five.
It’s a known fact that places pop up and fall down in Harold’s Cross but this has stood the test of time longer than most other places.
Sidenote: I think HX46 stood out to me in the summer because it normally has a cover hanging over the front of the shop but that was pushed back during the heatwave, is that it? We’ll say that’s it.
People used to say Denis Irwin was an unsung hero for Manchester United and Ireland because he never had a standout performance per se but would always give you a solid shift every single game.
HX46 is an unsung hero in South Dublin.
You know you’re going to get 8/10 food everytime you go there. You know you’ll get top class service that produces food quickly and takes it away just as fast once you’re done.
It’s cheap (just over €40 for everything), it’s quick, it’s tasty and you can guarantee you’ll step foot inside it at least once a month.
We’re already planning to go back for brunch soon – which I’ve heard good things about – and I don’t want 2018 to pass without trying the curry in there either.
While we were in there, about 6 people came in collecting takeaways too. HX46 doesn’t just rely on its building in Harold’s Cross, it’s a flyer for those who want a tasty takeaway too after work.
Or maybe they just don’t want to sit on those god awful chairs. Ah, it was my fault in fairness, if I had booked like I was supposed to I would have gotten the fancy ones.