Friday, January 23, 2009

Hilan Chinese and Korean Restaurant, Dublin


Anyone who is a fan of Chinese food in Ireland will know that there has been an explosion of authentic Chinese and Asian restaurants in the capital. Located mainly on the northside of the city, Parnell Street and Capel Street are the main homes to this new wave of Asian restaurants.

Initially, a lot of these restaurants offered truly authentic food, but many have now altered their menus to offer more "traditional" Chinese fare to Irish punters. It's a pity, as it was a chance for the many Irish who are accustomed to Swwet and Sour or perhaps the more adventurous Szechuan to try something new. Ultimately I presume the restaurants are catering to demand, and you cannot blame them for that.

The Hilan is a Chinese and Korean restaurant that has remained closer to its roots than other restaurants and is all the better for it. It is a long narrow room whose tables feature traditional Korean grills. We arrived one cold winter night, and although the restaurant was heaving, the genial manager quickly found us a table. It's clear that the restaurant is hugely popular among the local asian population and we found that us Irish were definitely in the minority.

We were given an English language menu, although I did notice that a Chinese menu was in circulation as well. It made me wonder if there was a different (or better) range of food on offer for Chinese. The menu is mainly Chinese with several Korean plates on offer as well. However, the hightlight of the menu is the range of Korean hotpots and BBQs on offer. Having previously eaten BBQ at this restaurant, I can honestly say that they are good.

This time though, both of us ordered from the Korean section. I chose pork and squid bolgogi (E12.90), while he went for beef bibmbab (E10.90). My bolgogi was delicious, although not as spicy as the waitress had warned me. I think that they just warn every Irish customer as a precaution. Tender pieces of squid and pork served in a red bean paste sauce. The bibmbab was a pot of rice, beef pieces, vegetables, fried egg and spicy sauce. According to the waiter, you're supposed to mix the lot together and dig in. Like the bulgogi, it was delicious and the spicy sauce added a nice bit of flavour to the dish.

This was excellent food, served in generous portions, in a popular restaurant. I quite like Korean food and it is a pity that is not more readily available. Irish punters need to be pushed out of their comfort zone more. Total damage for the above as well as two bottles of beer and one glass of house white came to approximately E37.

The Hilan is also offering a fantastic lunch menu with a starter, main course and soft drink for E9.88. I don't know where the weird figure of 9.88 came from, but it's great vaue for money.

Hilan Chinese and Korean Restaurant, 45 Capel Street, Dublin 1 
Tel: + 353 (0)1 874 8677

6 comments:

Gary said...

Great write-up. Will definitely pay it a visit. Thanks!
Krusty_Clown (Boards.ie)

Hockeysticks said...

I wonder is it €9.88 because the place across the road called Chuan (but no english name over the door) is €9.90 ?
I was there last week and would highly reccommend it !

Must try Hilan next ... and Jade on Little Mary St is also fab.

dudara said...

Jade is one restaurant I keep going to but I never get around to mentioning on this blog. I must fix that soon - it's a great place thats offers great value.

fellow dubliner said...

Hi, i was googling away when i stumbled upon ur blog n this entry on hilan. i have to say, as an asian who has just been in dublin for almost 2 years and having tried so many other restaurants, hilan is by far the best and most authentic chinese restaurant i've been to in the city centre. they arent too ambitous with the type of food like china house (eg. gizzards) but their mains are just simply the best. if u're there again, try the chef's specialties in the english menu. super!

nonsequitir said...

So did anyone find out whether there was a difference between the Chinese menus and the English ones? It'd be disappointing if there was a difference for those of us that would relish access to the real thing!

Anonymous said...

Can only agree! I was impressed by the Korean Spicy Mixed Seafood Soup. It came with rice that was cooked to absolute perfection. And the Hyundai WC experience was very interesting indeed.