I love Japanese food. In fact, if I had to choose just one nation's cuisine to eat for the rest of my life, I might choose to eat the food of Japan.
Sadly for me, Ireland isn't home to very many Japanese people and as a result, we don't have a huge amount of Japanese restaurants. This means that whenever I happen upon one, I simply have to sample the food.
I'd heard good reports about Kappa-ya in Galway and when I spotted it as I was wandering the streets of the city on Monday, the decision as to where I would eat my lunch was immediately made.
The restaurant looks unassuming from the outside, its only decoration being the Japanese signs hanging in the doorway.
Inside, it's a higgledy-piggledy place crammed with tables, chairs, diners and all sorts of Japanese trinkets. Luckily, I quite like higgledy-piggledy places so this didn't put me off at all.
Several of Galway's resident Japanese were also eating at the restaurant - something I took to be a very good sign.
I decided to have the fish and vegetable tempura served with a side salad. It's quite a basic Japanese dish but done well, it can be extremely satisfying.
So, what was it like? The tempura - a mix of prawns, a white fish that I think was haddock, green beans, red pepper and some sort of squash (butternut was my guess) - was great. The batter was light and melted in the mouth. The fish was perfectly cooked. The prawns were sweet. The vegetables retained a crunch, apart from the squash whose soft texture contrasted nicely with the crisp batter.
All of this sat on top of a bowl of rice and was sprinkled with dashi - a seaweed broth or stock that is fundamental to Japanese cooking.
The salad was a mix of salad leaves and tomatoes with a fresh and spicy dressing.
Overall, the entire meal was simple but a simple success. I'll definitely have to come again.
Especially as I've heard that the chef here creates fabulous feasts on Saturday nights, feasts which include such tempting dishes as tempura of banana with black sesame ice-cream. I really have to try that...
If you've been to Kappa-ya, I'd love to hear your thoughts about it and your suggestions as to what I should eat there next time. Also, if you've been to any Japanese restaurants in Ireland or even further afield that you think I should visit, do let me know about them.
4 Middle Street