Did you ever notice how things clump together? It's similar to the old story about waiting ages for a bus, and then three come along at once. Or that bad things happen in threes. In my case, we had a weekend away booked in Copenhagen (thanks to Ryanair's newly launched route), so of course we ended up in a Scandinavian influenced restaurant the night before.
Newly opened Söder + Ko is literally the hottest restaurant ticket in an already over-heated town. Chef Kwanghi Chan has left the famous Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore and moved to Dublin to take over this Scandinavian and Asian influenced kitchen. The interior of the former Dragon bar has been renovated into an open dining area with a stunning long bar.
The menu is split into 5 main sections: raw, dim sum, hot, sides and steamed buns. At dinnertime, €25 will get you a choice of 3 courses from the RAW, DIM SUM or HOT sections, along with a side of your choice. In my opinion, this was the perfect way for us sample as much of the menu as possible. Once ordered, the dishes arrived in a steady stream, coming out from the kitchen in the order of preparation.
Our RAW dishes kicked off the meal magnificently. My scallop ceviche was beautifully sweet balanced with soft coconut flavours and a gentle touch of coriander and chili. Tuna sashimi was dark red in colour with a seaweed salad and wasabi mayo. DIM SUM dishes of pork and shrimp dumplings were juicy and flavoursome, while squid tempura arrived in a joyful riot of battered fronds and a lemongrass dipping sauce.
|Pork and shrimp dim sum|
At this stage, we were convinced that the €25 three course menu was definitely the right option. And then the main courses arrived. Chargrilled peppered beef was interspersed with glutinous mounds of sticky rice topped with tiny exquisite quails egg yolks. This dish was presented with the precision of Kwanghi's Michelin heritage, but the chopsticks provided were inadequate for the size of the beef pieces. A piece of steamed cod was topped with gently waving bonito flakes, adding a sensation of motion to this classically delicate Asian dish.
Our main three courses had all been excellent, but we disappointed with our choice of roasted aubergine with garlic and chili, and fried sweet potato with parmesan. Looking back at the menu, I think we should have chosen more green vegetables to better suit the dishes ordered.
|Charred peppered beef fillet with sticky rice|
|Steamed cod with Shitake mushrooms and bonito flakes|
Even though we had eaten 6 dishes (and 2 side dishes) at this stage, the steamed bun section of the menu was still looking very attractive. A spicy kimchi bun with bean sprouts, red onion and coriander in a light fluffy pun was packed full of flavour and got the seal of approval (€4).
Söder + Ko will have a full cocktail menu (and a beautiful bar to match) but on the night we visited, only a few cocktails were available. I tried the Söder Sura (Zapaca rum and grapefruit), as well as a Stockholm 866 (a Negroni variation) with fresh herbs and a rock salt rim. The Scandinavian herbal bittersweet influences came through on both drinks making me look forward to the rest of the menu.
|Kimchi steamed bun|
|Stockholm 866 (or a Scandinavian Negroni)|
I have to admit that service was extremely shaky on the night we visited, although the restaurant manager did a great job of keeping things moving. There were several small errors on the final bill, but I do need to point out that it's early days for Söder + Ko and I'm optimistic that these issues will shake themselves out in time. Therefore, it's not fair to consider this a proper review, but rather an early dispatch.
In short, Söder + Ko is beautiful and delicious food, with a healthy vibe, served in a modern relaxed bar. I can't see how it will be anything other than a high success.
Tel: +353 (0)1 478 1590