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Chimac: There’s a saucy new chick on the block in Dublin city

This Aungier Street restaurant serves addictively delicious free-range chicken

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Address: 76 Aungier St, Dublin 2
Telephone: None
Cuisine: Asian
Cost: €€

Maybe it’s the Crackbird effect. Who knew there was such a pent-up demand for chicken? Perhaps the flock of magpies left the last shiny new place for dead and piled in here. Chimac has just opened its door and the pale wood tables are crammed, with more hopeful customers forming short queues to get their name on a list and await their turn.

Joe Macken spotted a niche in Dublin’s restaurant scene for “addictive chicken” eight years ago and opened Crackbird, with a masterclass in the then seemingly benign power of social media to reach diners. (Anyone remember Tweetseats?) After Crackbird’s sad closure late last year, Bunsen has been flying the flag for a nimble Irish operation that put the spark into city centre fast food. But there’s a new chick on the block and it’s a good one.

There’s been a stroll to the Long Hall for a pre-dinner drink after the friendly server (they’re all lovely) takes our number and says she’ll text when a table is ready. The table is indeed ready and there is time to look at the short menu, with beers printed on a beer mat. At the table beside us they’re going for broke with at least two waves of food orders.

We can admire the cheery summer blue sky colour on the walls and the Warhol style graphic prints. There’s a black drink can with proper stainless steel cutlery and (here is where I begin to love this place) stainless steel chopsticks, reusable, washable and so lovely to handle compared to the splintery matchstick disposable ones.


There’s so much time to take this all in because we’re waiting 30 minutes before anything by the way of solid food comes to the table. They are finding their feet and are very apologetic when we ask if dinner is ever coming.

Worth the wait

It is absolutely worth the wait. Our next door table (they’re very close, these tables) has heard our plea to the wait staff and offered us a spare bowl of their piping hot chips. We’re too hungry to refuse and we get the three dips to go with the excellent salted-just-so chips.

There’s a sriracha caramel, which is the drippy consistency and colour of maple syrup but with a honey sweetness laced with garlic and chilli. This is a tremendous trio of heat, salt and sweet – you could pour this stuff on a dry Weetabix and make it sing. There’s an equally brilliant lime house-made mayonnaise and a Korean hot sauce made with gochujang, a paste made with the funk of fermented rice and soybeans that gives this sauce the “Korean miso” label. It lends a lower savoury growl to the spicy heat instead of just the slash and burn of a regular hot sauce.

This sauce is on the chunk of Irish free range chicken that’s been brined for 18 hours, battered, fried and then fried again for shellac crispness, before being slapped in a bun like a fish trying to hide between rocks that are too small. There is more chicken than bun, which is the generous spirit of this young operation.

I get an enamel bowl with six XL nugs (which sounds like something you’d order in a hardware shop) of the same delicious chicken sprinkled with sesame seeds and lightly pickled daikon radish. There’s a small steel bowl of the sriracha caramel for dipping or pouring. I go for the pour to take the slight dryness off the chicken.

Cauliflower wings

A side of cucumber salad is delicious, none of your watery floppy slices here. These are wedges of cucumber with the seeds scooped out and coated in a satay-style nutty sauce with more spice rumbling through it.

The food is hot. At our next door neighbour’s table one of the eaters announces the moment his head has just started to sweat. But there is more than just heat here.

I visit again a short while later with the teenager for the classic burger and a try of the vegetarian nugget option. It’s cauliflower wings (who knew brassicas could fly?) encased in that great batter and fried just so. There’s a tipping point where cauliflower goes from too chewy to too gooey and they’ve managed to nail it right in the middle where this vegetable gets silky and nutty.

Desserts are kiddie-style sandwiches of soft scoop ice-cream with a peanut butter cookie in one half and a “cornflake crunch” version. They are jaw-achingly sweet and a bit out of kilter with everything else but they eat like a kind of work in progress test run rather than a finished dessert idea.

Chimac feels like addictive chicken for a new generation, not least because their chicken is free range. By the time you read this, the wheels will hopefully be running more smoothly to keep churning out this level of food with the kind of complex layers and brilliant flavours that you hardly ever find between two burger buns.

Dinner for two with a White Hag beer came to €29.45. Lunch with tap water came to €27.85

  • Verdict 8.5/10 Join the queue for a table. You shouldn't be disappointed
  • Facilities Nice
  • Wheelchair access Yes
  • Music Good (on the loud side)
  • Vegetarian options Limited but good. They'll swap in a panko tofu burger
  • Food Provenance None
Catherine Cleary

Catherine Cleary

Catherine Cleary, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a founder of Pocket Forests