Saba Clarendon Street, Dublin 2
26-28 Clarendon Street, Dublin 2.
+353 (0)1 6792000
€ 0-60 (for two with wine)
Hours: 12pm till late, seven days a week
Paul Cadden's Saba restaurant has been serving up everyday Asian food for a few years now and has hit the right note with Dublin's diners. The menu is long and varied, you can have a quick bite, or spend the evening over dinner with friends and finish with dancing and cocktails. Paolo and young Rocco popped along.
The menu is quite long, listing lots of appetisers, soups, salads, Saba dishes, noodles, noodle soups, curries and side orders. The prices are also very reasonable, most of the main dishes are under €20, but if you were feeling extravagant you could order the lobster tail with yellow beans and brown rice for €28.50. Otherwise, for a one-course snack you could order a noodle dish which are all priced in and around €13.
The wine list is average in length, but the bulk of the wines listed are priced at under €30, which I like to see. Even with our high duties and VAT, there’s still no reason why a restaurant can’t sell you a good bottle of wine for under €30 and make a decent profit.
Personally I prefer beer with Asian food, and the big plus about Saba's drinks menu is that apart from wine it also lists sake, cocktails, long drinks, short drinks and beers. Rocco chose a Heineken, but with a feeling of deep nostalgia for the East, I picked a bottle of Tiger beer, to remind myself of my visits to their factories in Singapore and Vietnam.. A big bottle of mineral water completed the drinks order.
Rocco began with a tempura of soft-shelled crabs with a mango salsa, and I started with a bowl of Tom Yaam Goong, which lovely name described a spicy prawn soup with oyster mushrooms. Rocco had four crabs in tempura, and curiously two of them tasted very good, and two had a very strong fishy taste. No quibbles with my soup though, it was very nicely spiced and the mix of flavours was well judged.
For his main course Rocco had picked a noodle dish, the Pattaya, which was egg noodles with roasted duck, chilli, egg, pak choi and mushrooms. This is a very typical Asian dish and it was well-executed, both of us enjoyed it a lot. I'd picked the Gaeng Pet Nua, which was a red beef curry with a medium chilli burn. By the time I'd eaten all the beef slivers I had no appetite left for the rice, such are the portion sizes, but I what I did eat, I liked.
We finished up with a macchiato for Rocco and an espresso for me, which rounded off the meal perfectly. What you get in Saba is simple, spicy food that's well-prepared. It isn't haute cuisine and it doesn't pretend to be, what it does is give you a flavour of what everyday food in Asia is like, and as such it does the job well. Remember there are main courses here for under €13, so you're getting very good value for money. Cheap and cheerful isn't always a compliment, but this time that's exactly how I mean it. Our bill was €72.70, which is confirmation of the fact.