“Looks like it might rain” says Mr K as we sit at Kinselas downing a few pre-dinner bevvies while watching the people parade on Taylor Square.
“Nah, we’ll be right” I respond confidently hopefully as I watch the dark cloud heading in our direction.
Arriving at Xage we could see most of the tables were already reserved. Lucky we booked. I was really looking forward to this, especially after reading the online menu with its delicious sounding dishes. Not even five minutes after our arrival the rain started to bucket down. That was lucky.
It didn’t take much discussion with choosing the first starter: duck fillet summer rolls (10). They came out looking like little upright soldiers with a wisp of alfalfa on top. Fresh and soft with the distinct flavour of Vietnamese mint. The side dipping sauce was clearly watered down and barely had any of the peanut and hoisin flavour it should have. Without the few bits of chilli it would have been nothing. Insipid is the first word that comes to mind.
Next to arrive is the red chicken skewers with nuoc chám (7.5). Sitting on a colourful bed of shallots, shaved red cabbage and snowpea sprouts, the three skewers of chicken were not what I was expecting. Rather than pieces of marinated meat, the chicken was actually minced and shaped into small rounds, deep-fried and then skewered. Very much like a Thai fish cake. It even had the same texture. Quite nice.
My choice of black tiger prawns with okra and lemongrass chilli sauce (17.9) was a bit of a let down due to the lack of flavour other than the lemongrass. The prawns were nice and fresh and seemed to match fairly well with the crunchy okra yet the absence of chilli was a little too “play-it-safe” for my liking. I’m feeling a yawn coming on.
I found it a little surprising when health-conscious Mr K orders the slow cooked pork shoulder (16.9), knowing it was a gamble whether it would be mostly fat or mostly meat. The flavour is quite delicious and I watched with a little amusement as he puts all the skin and blubber aside and is left with only a few fork-fuls of meat. I don’t hesitate in eating a bit of fat but the amount here would have overflowed a measuring cup.
As we sat and ate our meal I couldn’t help but be amazed at how busy this place was. People were being turned away and those willing to wait were told it would be at least half an hour. I guess crowds attract people and if it’s this busy it must be good. If I can judge by what we just ate, it was an overall average meal. I’ve definitely had better.