Meal Ticket: Saba, Dublin 2

Saba’s blend of Thai and Vietnamese food with Irish ingredients has won it many plaudits since it first opened

   
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Saba

  • 26-28 Clarendon Street, Dublin 2
  • (01) 679 2000
  • sabadublin.com
  • Thai/South-East Asian

A solid presence on the city’s Asian food scene, Saba’s blend of Thai and Vietnamese food with Irish ingredients (plus award-winning cocktails) has won it many plaudits since it first opened. One of the recent Biblical deluges sent us scurrying in for cover and a quick refuel at lunchtime.

The lunchtime menu is very similar to the evening menu, with a few euro knocked off starters and up to a tenner off the mains, so it’s a good way to try the food here on a budget.

I start with smoked trout Mieng Kam (€7.95) - a peculiarly Irish take on this Thai snack food. Four large betel leaves come dressed with tasted shreds of coconut, lumps of Goatsbridge smoked trout, fleks of ginger and lime, with the sweetness of tamarind paste and some ground peanuts. You wrap the betel leaves into a little parcel and pop in your mouth. It’s a great dish - smoky, sweet, sour, crunchy and fresh.

A Som Tam papaya salad (€13.50) requires the fire brigade on speed dial. It’s a julienned tangle of under-ripe green papaya, string beans, carrot, lots and lots of birds eye chilli and garlic, with sweet bombs of cherry tomato and crunchy toasted cashews. A tart lime juice and fish sauce dressing gives it a good tang and two pieces of well cooked grilled chicken lie on the side. It’s eye- and nose-streamingly hot, but holds on to enough flavour through the heat.

My dad likes his Thai food old-school and goes for a satay gai (€8.95) and phad thai noodles (€12.50). The satay - three meaty marinated chicken skewers with a pot of peanut sauce - is fine. The meat is of good quality and has been well marinated. A large serving of rice noodles are fried to make phad thai with egg, onion and beansprouts and topped with fat king prawns and chicken. The dressing is a touch too sweet; some squeezes of lime and a liberal serving of ground peanuts cut through a little, but not enough.

They do the staples well here but you’re better off trying some of the dishes where chef Taweesak Trakoolwattana has let his imagination play a little.