Meal Ticket: Aobaba, Capel Street, Dublin 1

A narrow little restaurant, with a colour theme of proud pastel pink and turquoise

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Address: 46A Capel Street, Dublin 1
Telephone: 01-8788555
Cuisine: Thai/South-East Asian

The kitchen at Aobaba on Capel Street is a matriarchal one; I’ve only ever seen women in this small area that serves some of the best broth-based bowls of noodle in the city. It’s a narrow little restaurant, with a colour theme of proud pastel pink and turquoise. On the tables are squeezy bottles of sriracha soy bean paste, bottles of fish sauce and jars of minced chilli for back-up heat.

What I come in for mostly is the chicken pho (€5.80 for an intimidatingly giant bowl). It’s more fragrant than spicy, as a good pho should be, with a clear, uncloudy broth scented with star anise, ginger and coriander. Also excellent is the Bun Bo Hue, a spicy noodle broth with slices of beef. Aobaba’s spring rolls (€6) are devastatingly delicious; they’re deep-fried to within an inch of their lives with a result that is joyously crispy. Their Banh Mi (€4), a legacy of French imperialism in Vietnam, is disappointing because of the over-processed pork in an otherwise flavourful of shredded carrots and coriander served in a soft baguette.

It’s fun to watch the Bubble Tea (€3.50) being made; powder of assorted flavours (my favourite is the Lychee flavour) is spooned into a plastic cup and awoken with boiling water, then shaken about. A little machine seals the cup with a plastic cover that is pierced with a straw thick enough to let the round fruit jellies or tapioca balls through. These drinks are probably teeth-achingly full of sugar and are terribly synthetic but they’re weird and wonderful, and irrefutably refreshing.

Aoife McElwain

Aoife McElwain

Aoife McElwain, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a food writer