The Asian Tea House is on Mary St. in Galway, just off Eglinton Street. This authentic Pan Asian restaurant takes its food seriously, and offers a selection of dishes from Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and China. The ingredients are carefully sourced and local where possible, there is no MSG used, and the flavours are fresh and authentic. I wish there was one in Dublin.
Terry Common’s Asian Tea House has been packing them in for some years now. The quality of the food, and the tasteful and authentic setting, make this casual Asian restaurant a firm favourite amongst the Galway foodie brigade. The restaurant and the more recently added Asian Bar next door are in adjoining buildings in Mary Street.
Inside the restaurant dark wood pieces imported from Thailand and Cambodia break up the exposed granite walls and create a truly Asian space, a collection of tea pots are contained in shelves that double as a room divider and a specially made ceiling, imported from the Far East, crown the whole room with texture and depth. The attention to detail is impressive and it’s quite evident some time and not a little love has gone into creating this restaurant.
The menu starts off with a selection of the teas available, and from there goes on an Asian odyssey, offering dishes from across the continent, with a mixture of famous favourites and some secret family recipes. There are always a selection of daily specials and the menu changes reasonably often, the make sure the many regulars have something new to enjoy.
Our recent visit was during the big heat wave, and inside the restaurant is cool and soothing. A cup of Chinese tea is sipped as we make our selection and we pick some ourselves and ask for a couple more that the kitchen recommends.
We share starters of prawn crackers, but unlike any you are used to, these are the real deal, with an orange sauce. Indonesian style fish are little filets marinated in coconut and turmeric, and served with a lime and chilli dipping sauce. Roasted pork bellies with Hoisin sauce are little cubes of loveliness, and crab claws with pak choi are delicate and well balanced.
Main courses bring us fresh hake in a homemade curry paste, which is cooked au Pointe, while a South China steamed sea bass filet is topped with a fine mix of garlic and ginger, and as sweet a piece of fish as you are likely to find. Jasmine and fried rice and oriental stir fried vegetables bring up the rear, and in all this was an Asian meal so far above the norm as to make comparisons irrelevant.
If you are a local and haven’t been, rectify immediately. If a visitor from elsewhere, go and enjoy, and walk away cursing the fact that there is nowhere this good serving Asian food near you, because with the exception of half a dozen places, there isn’t.