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Just Koi (Dublin) -- Form Over Function

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Just Koi (Dublin) -- Form Over Function

chow_eb | Sep 6, 2007 03:13 PM

Two visits to Just Koi in the Ulfert's Center in Dublin had very different results. On the first visit, we shared a number of dishes and all were very good to excellent. On a return visit I was underwhelmed. And almost unseated.

Just Koi is a BBQ and noodle place. Roast/BBQ duck, chicken, and pork are available in a couple of different preparations. The small menu also has appetizer and jook sections. The meats are available "on rice" or regular. The server explained that "on rice" includes a couple pieces of meat, rice, and a cup of soup. It's essentially a rice plate for one, although it doesn't say it. The regular is only meat, costs more, but has more meat she said. We ordered a two meat combo of chicken and pork. Both had great flavor. The appetizer section has a lot of small plates at very good prices. The potstickers ("Dumpling Duet") were excellent. So were the calamari, Chinese broccoli, and the other dishes we tried. We were very pleased.

On the second visit, the spring rolls had nothing but carrot and cabbage for filling and lacked flavor. The noodle soup had wonderful dumplings, but the broth was flavorless. The dumplings are like a pork and shrimp har gow, not like traditional won tons. Very meaty, lots of flavor, with a thin wrapper -- just perfect. But they couldn't make up for a watery, flavorless broth. And I didn't like the egg-based thin vermicelli noodles. Two pieces of Chinese broccoli were the only other things in the soup. I realize that they're not trying to make your grandmother's won ton noodle soup, but this was not successful for me.

And then there's the interior. The tables are crowded too closely together. Only one of them seats more than four comfortably, so this is not the place for a large group or family. And since the tables are round, they can't be pushed together.

Others have posted about the chairs. I've never seen anything like them in my life. The fact that they've even been discussed is a major clue. The tables and chairs are real works of art. They're made with beautiful inlaid woods. The round table has a covered well in the center for condiments, so nicely disguised that the unobservant may not even realize it's there. Elegant as that may be, it's totally impractical. With the table covered with dishes, nobody is going to have access to the soy or chili oil sauces. And the small size of the tables makes it hard to leave the condiments out.

Here's the unbelievable part. The chairs are _triangular_! That's right, the horizontal part of the chair where you park your butt is wide at the back and tapers to a narrow front, so there's no thigh support. The back of the chair only comes up about a foot, so there's little back support. The only thing I can figure is that some great artist who has never been in a restaurant in his life designed these chairs. (Not likely.) So, remembering that I had been there once before and sat in them, on my second visit as I sat down I nearly slid off the narrow seat of the unstable triangular chair, knocking the porcelain soup spoon off the table onto the floor in the process (and breaking it). Yeah, graceful. Talk about an E.F. Hutton moment. Then irony occurred. Several minutes later as I sat there feeling foolish, a single diner came in and was seated. He looked at the chair in disbelief (understandable). He sat down and (unsuccessfully) tried to find a comfortable position. Then he got up and announced that he was leaving.

And that's the story about the restaurant that's better known for its tables and chairs than for its noodle soups. But the roast meats and appetizers are great.

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