Discover Eatzen in Ashbourne, Co.Meath

And taste Asian cuisine at its finest

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Words by Tanya Grimson
August 30th, 2018

Just on the outskirts of Dublin in Ashbourne, Co. Meath lies one of Ireland’s best kept culinary secrets, Eatzen, an Asian fusion restaurant that takes its influences from Thailand, China and Japan. This modern restaurant is not your typical Chinese restaurant and it is, for this reason, not only revered locally but has a celebrity following that make repeat trips to Ashbourne because the food is simply worth it.

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Located in the heart of the town on Killegland St, right beside Tesco, you need to enter a vestibule first and take the lift to the first floor. On arrival, you are met with elegant, bright and modern décor that reflects the fine dining status of the restaurant. The room has a monochromatic tone, with sweeping curved white walls that separate the space, dark teak floors and wooden carvings that separate the booths which we were lucky enough to be seated at.

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At the back of the room lies their private dining (VIP) room that seats 14 people, an experience that I am determined to avail of soon. This circular room is covered in glass with striking ceiling light, a glass circular table and transparent Perspex chairs to add to the modern drama of it.

And this drama does not stop here. The lavatory is simply stunning; one large unisex room with five doors, three with the letter W and two with the letter M, the toilet is dark and moody and each gender has their own coloured Perspex art installation inset into the walls of the cubicles, orange for the ladies and purple for the men. The proprietor’s love for glass is prevalent throughout and nowhere used to better effect than the sleekest water taps I have ever seen. Each metal tap is inset into a sphere of glass and when the metal lever is pulled down, the water cascades over the glass creating a waterfall effect. It’s this level of detail that explains the €2m that the owner, Tim Tang, invested in the restaurant when it opened in 2004. According to Tang, it was paramount that the interior reflected the fine dining experience of the food and he was right in doing so because it does. Nothing about this restaurant looks half done, half prepared, or not well thought out; it is not style over substance, but style backed by substance, because the food can back it up.

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To start we had a selection of appetisers one of which was the Asian classic, chicken satay. There is nothing out of the norm to see this on a Chinese restaurant menu but the difference was in the sauce. All too often it is a non-descript gloopy sauce that tastes like peanut butter heated in a pan; real satay is usually cooked with coconut cream and it creates a luxuriously rich taste and on this occasion, thankfully, that difference was so evident I could have licked the bowl. Our other two starters comprised of salt and chilli squid on a bed of vermicelli noodles and prawns in a Malay salad sauce that particularly delighted my husband. The prawns were huge and the Malay sauce had a refreshingly fruity flavour that complimented the prawns so well.

For our mains, my husband opted for the Szechuan beef fillet, stir-fried with chilli, ginger and spicy herbs and my seven-year-old son chose the prawn noodles. One of the things that really excited me was the lack of a children’s menu with the usual western offerings of chicken balls or nuggets. We simply chose a main course and requested a half portion so he could enjoy the same flavours as us, which he truly did.

I chose the silver snow fish grilled in a fine champagne sauce having seen it on the menu prior to arrival which left me intrigued. This rare deep sea fish is part of the Chilean sea bass family and unlike anything I have ever tried before. On first look, it appeared similar to sea trout with a smoked orange coat but instead of a fawn coloured flesh, the flesh on this fish was white. The flesh was meaty but with a delicate texture that allowed each forkful to fall away with ease. On first bite, there was a smokiness to it that was then replaced with a buttery flavour that was both incredible and very rich. This fish appears to be the truffle of the fish kingdom with a decadently rich taste that doesn’t require a large portion. The champagne sauce compliments the fish perfectly but I felt it was a little too sweet that could potentially push this meal into dessert territory. The fish itself speaks for itself and I can now happily admit it is a firm favourite of mine.

For dessert, we opted for a selection of their desserts including the special of the day, mango rice pudding which was a combination of passionfruit and mango sorbets and a pavlova. The sorbet was zinging with bursts of fresh fruit and after such a lavish meal, it was the perfect way to bring balance to the palette.

From the moment we entered Eatzen the experience was impeccable, from the waiting staff’s attention and interaction with my son to the most memorable eating experiences that lingered on my palette long after we left. From the beautiful and stylish surroundings, the unquestionably high quality of the produce, the passion and love this restaurateur has for his business is evident in every turn.

Eatzen is located in Ashbourne, Co. Meath. For more info visit www.eatzen.ie.