It’s getting increasingly difficult to find a solid meal in Dublin city centre for under eight or nine euro, as another boom starts to gain momentum. A lot of my old haunts have been priced out in favour of yet another homogenised chain blasting Japanese city pop and charging fifteen quid for an oversized bowl of insipid ramen. Remember when UCD’s Cafe Brava was an actual cafe, and you could get the fry-up to cure all hangovers? Course you don’t. You’re far too young. Boojum and Camille is all you know.
I hope I’ll always have Govinda’s.
This vegetarian cafeteria run by Hare Krishnas, with branches on Abbey St and Aungier St, does some of the most consistently delicious and nourishing food in Dublin. Walk in and ask for a small plate with a bit of everything, and watch as they pile your plate with vegetable curries, creamy spinach lasagne, lemony potato bake, lentil daals and rice for the paltry sum of six or seven quid. Keep your eyes out for the paneer, cubes of homemade curd cheese in a tomato sauce spiced with mustard seeds and asafoetida. It’s the best thing on the menu. Their tofu version’s just (whisper it) not as nice. Wash it all down with a glass of the mango lassi (yoghurt smoothie). There’s plenty of vegan options and a soothing, peaceful atmosphere. Govinda’s is committed to avoiding food waste, so if you nip in half an hour before they close you can get a takeaway container of food for three euro. A lifeline for many a hungry student.
Stumbling into a little restaurant concealed in the back of one of Dublin’s oriental supermarkets generally means you’re about to eat something tasty. Shout out to the Brothers Dosirak on Capel St and Han Sung Asian Market near the Grand Social. For the student who’s really counting their pennies ‘til payday though, it has to be the Oriental Emporium beside Jervis Luas stop. At the warm food counter they dole out warm, soft and steaming mounds of rice flour buns filled with beef and runner beans or anpan, a wonderful sweet red bean paste, for a euro each.
Finally, for the cold and tired commuter facing a long late night journey home, you could do worse than the Supermac’s on Talbot St, two minutes’ walk from Busaras, for a curry cheese chips and a cup of tea. Warm, savoury, gently spiced curry sauce. Delicately grated red cheddar, melting and elastic. Crisp and fluffy chips, stouter and more substantial than their flimsy American counterparts. Real milk, not mimsy UHT capsules, and proper Barry’s tea. Bliss.