Meal Ticket: Söder + Ko, Dublin 2

A curious concept of blended Scandinavian and Asian influences in this new city centre bar and restaurant

Scandinavian creativity, Asian purity and some Vikings thrown in for good measure? You’ll struggle to find a more geographically and historically diverse restaurant opening this year.

Söder + Ko opened last week on South Great George’s Street, in a building formerly occupied by the Dragon bar (and the Vikings, apparently, a mere 12 centuries earlier). Billed as a blend of Scandinavian and Asian influences, it’s a cavernous place, with a booths and tables up front, followed by a long bar area and more tables to the back, overlooked by the open kitchen. There’s a very attractive roof garden/ smoking area upstairs.

The Scandinavian influence is not obvious. It’s not in the décor, the music, or the food. There’s a nod to the north in the cocktail menu, and the wines are arranged by Swedish classifications such as Uppfriskande/refreshing. (A shame, though, that the cheapest bottle on the menu is €27 – a steep entry point for a casual bar and restaurant.)

The food at Söder + Ko is entirely Asian, under head chef Kwanghi Chan (formerly of the Cliff House in Ardmore). The menu includes sharing platters that are made for proper group sharing: chicken wings, pork shoulder and crispy duck come in servings for two/three or five/six people. The duck for six is €30 – a good price for a group starter. There’s also a couple of “bowls”: salad, teriyaki and a ramen dish with pork belly (€12).

The rest of the menu is “tapas style” – fast becoming as ubiquitous as pulled pork on the city’s menus. Plates range from €6 to €10 and are split into Raw, Dim sum and Hot. Sides are all €4. The best value is the evening deal of three plates plus a side for €25, or five plates plus a side for €45.

Portions are generous – tuna sashimi comes with half a dozen thick slices of lean tuna with seaweed salad and a light wasabi mayo. Pot sticker dumplings are fried – no option of steamed – with a chicken and scallion stuffing and an umami-rich dipping sauce. A bamboo steamer full of lightly cooked tempura squid comes with another good dipping sauce – this time with lots of lemongrass.

Two plump braised pork cheeks are served with a Vietnamese crab roll, and scattered with little puffs of crackling – which are good to begin but quickly lose their crackle. Better to hoover these up immediately.

Of the hot dishes, the best is a perfectly cooked piece of hake, baked skin on with ginger, ponzu and scallion and served with slippery glass noodles and a creamy miso mayo.

There’s also a selection of Chinese steamed buns (€4-€6), with pan Asian flavours such as Korean kimchi and black bean chicken. A soft, pillowy bun comes skewered shut over Chinese shredded duck and salad with hoi sin sauce (€6). The filling is dense and tasty, but most of the bun is already soggy on arrival.

Credit is due for attempting a new concept in a city awash with gastropubs and burrito bars (even if the Scandinavians and Vikings didn’t get the memo).