Recently re-opened after a fire, Cafe Mao are back doing what they have been doing so well for just over a decade, serving delicious Asian fusion food at reasonable prices.
It seems that Café Mao has been around forever. When they opened in 1997 Paolo remarked that,
For years I've been asking 'Why can't there be a reasonably priced restaurant in Dublin?' and Mao is my answer. There can be, and there is. It's a place for a quick meal rather than a long, lingering one and it's not ideal for couples looking for romantic tete-a-tetes. But if you were to find yourself in a large group, you wanted to eat well and be in the range of everyone's pocket, then Mao would be a good choice.
In 1997 a dublin house cost 70,000, the Celtic Tiger hadn’t even been coined and Mao was an true innovation. In the Dublin of the time good quality food at reasonable prices was rare enough, add in the funky branding and design and this was a breath of fresh air. Now ten years later, they are still packing them in and it seems like a Dublin institution.
The bright and airy room attracts a range of people, from students to business folk, all taken care of by the bright young staff. The tables are close together without feeling squashed, and the service is quick and efficient. The menu offers a selection of Thai and Chinese dishes, with a special lunch menu available for around a tenner, and the desserts are a cut above those traditionally found in most ethnic restaurants – they have decided that just because we fancy chicken ramen with lots of chili, we would still rather finish with a sticky brownie and ice cream than subject ourselves to the supposed joys of bought in frozen desserts that are supposed to be ethnically correct.
Café Mao is not out to surprise you - unless of course you haven’t been before - but serving good food consistently is an art in itself, and they have got this right. Probably incredibly un-PC to say, but long live the chairman.