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26th Jul 2017

THE DISH: This Authentic Vietnamese Cafe Is The Perfect Spot For Date Night On A Budget


Every week, Lovin’s food writer Sarah Clayton-Lea scours the streets for the best eats in the whole of Dublin. From market stalls to six-course tasting menus, consider our review series, The Dish, your one-stop guide to all things tasty in the city.

This week I indulged my addiction to pho and all things Vietnamese with a stop off at Jolin’s Coffeehouse, the underrated jewel of Harold’s Cross.

What’s the vibes?

You might be quick to write off the majority of Asian restaurants in Dublin as gimicky, but pretty painted wooden tables and hanging plants give Jolin’s an authentic feel. We went on a fairly hot evening (what a treat to be able to call a Dublin evening “hot”), and once stepping inside here it instantly reminded me of any artsy cafe you would find in Hoi An in Vietnam.

There’s a cute outside area with tables and decking, but having just struggled through our annual gym workout the only place for us was in the cooler interior, safely away from humidity. 

Jolin’s Vietnamese Coffeehouse is run by Jolin herself, and as we munched our way through the menu it was an impressive one woman show, with Jolin alone serving and cooking in the open kitchen right opposite your table.

The menus are simple, but again, with a beautifully painted print, a theme that runs through the entire cafe: simplicity made absolutely stunning.

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What’s on the menu?

With a focus on Vietnamese and some Thai dishes, the menu is divided into starters, salads, wok, soup (the GLORIOUS pho), noodle dishes, and more, with incredible value for money throughout.

We went for the ‘Meal For Two’, which includes one starter, any two mains, and two drinks for €25. Cheap as chips and insanely delicious.

A Summer Roll to start with tender chicken, fresh mint, beansprouts and an addictive dipping sauce of peanut and chilli had us ‘mmmming’ from the get go. The perfect mix of crunchy sprouts with the soft chicken breast and rice paper wrap – we knew the meal was gonna be a success. 

Two Pho noodle soups for mains, one beef and one chicken, were steaming hot bowls of pure comfort.

Generously laden with chopped spring onions, and a plate of raw beansprouts to add some texture, fresh basil that looked like it had come straight from the garden, and fresh chillis to add a kick, the pho was flavoursome and just made to be slurped up.

I’ve been on a bit of a hunt to find fantastic Pho in Dublin, and Jolin’s is now going to be my local haunt.

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What’s the damage?

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You won’t find anything fancy, but for a chilled date night on a tight budget, this is the place to go. A sweet and creamy Vietnamese coffee, made the proper way with strainer and condensed milk was the best dessert I could have asked for. Dinner for two came to a mere €28.75. 

Score: 7.0

There’s a lot to be said for perfectly made food, and if you’re willing to forego the fuss then you’ll love Jolin’s. Head here the next time you want something simple, but oh so satisfying.