Wednesday, 4 September 2013

CHAMELEON , An Indonesian Utopia in Temple Bar , Dublin 2. @ChameleonFood

 Chameleon in Temple Bar has had an enduring presence on the Dublin Food Scene since the mid 90's and most recently picking up Best World Cuisine at this year's Irish Restaurant Awards 2013  It is run by husband and wife Kevin & Carol O'Toole , While Carol oversees the Front of House , Kevin takes great pride in the attention to details required to produce Award-Winning food . I love his own personal take inspired by Indonesian Culture and tailored for an Irish audience , while showcasing Irish produce - Wicklow Lamb , Broightergold's rapeseed oil ,Highbank Orchard's Ciders among a few......

Indonesia ; often referred to as the World's largest Archipelago , with more than 18,000 island has a Culture steeped in history , so not surprisingly with such a rich mixture of cultures , the Cuisine varies from region to another or whichever  of it's many islands you visit.
It can be fiery or enticingly aromatic but always full of fantastic flavours with subtle undertones from the use of a huge variety of Spices , Herbs & various Soy sauces . Hence good Culinary skills , Palate and a nose is a must for it's execution as there is no secret to making the most perfect and tastiest dishes , it all lies in the tasting and balancing of flavours - And no better man to deliver this than Chef Kevin O'Toole from the Award- Winning " Chameleon "

This adaptable couple are looking forward to what the future holds for their enduringly popular gem of a restaurant and Award -Winning Food . Soon , you will be able to purchase  some of their produce , I don't know about you but I will without doubt be stocking up on their Sweet Chilli Sauce & Pickled Aubergine Mayonnaise .

Here are some of the Delicious food I feasted upon like a King recently

CUMI CUMI GORENG  ; were crisp marinated Squid served with Chameleon 's own sweet chilli sauce . Deliciously succulent , they were perfectly cooked , soft with a moist golden crunchiness, they melted in the mouth.

UDANG GORENG ; were crisp fried whole black Tiger Prawns  in their shells . They were juicy and full of flavours . I could have eaten a massive amount of these and nothing else .

All this was drowned with a smackingly good Lychee Bellini

Next was OTAK OTAK PIPEH ; a little gem of a Crab Cake with hake , Asian herbs , ginger , garlic and chillies coated in  panko crumbs . With enough Hake to add substance and not overpower , some sweet potato enchancing the sweetness of the Crab Meat coupled with the sweet & sour of the Mango Chilli Sauce delivered a glorious mouthful of Sunshine on the palate .

A side of ASINAN SALAD ; a mix of Chinese leaves , pak- choi , coriander , cucumber shavings , shredded mango & pineapple in a galangal and shallot dressing .
Here the simple ingredients of the dressing , where the shallots and galangal are browned and caramelised in our very own Broightergold Rapeseed oil  transforms all the simple ingredients into a harmonious plate of flavours .

For additional textures , KRUPUK ; some Prawn crackers were served alongside .

Following with  the Crunch factor , came PANGSIT GORENG ; Crisp fried Pork Wontons served with a chilli sambal . Slow cooked pork belly is used here as the filling . It fell apart on the first bite with a subtle hint of ginger, cumin, fennel & scallions .oh.... my ... need I say more  ? Only that they were demolished in a flash .

The famous PERKEDEL followed  , a crisp Potatoe cake with Chick peas and Curry Leaves . It was served on a little mound of finely shredded  red cabbage , enrobed with the most delish pickled aubergine mayonnaise & a mango chilli salsa. This Indonesian style potatoe cake had some lovely textures to it , which came from some finely diced vegetables . The Pandang leaves or Curry leaves were wonderfully aromatic - All encased in a golden crispy coating of Panko crumbs and toasted sesame seeds . This dish was a pure Celebration of Indonesia and took me back to very happy memories of holidaying in Bali .

The KARI JAVA of braised shoulder of Wicklow Lamb and sweet Potatoe in it's Javanese Curry Sauce was wonderfully  rich and fragrant . Bite sized pieces of lamb were very tender and full of fantastic flavours . This was a mild curry but offered a very real feel good factor .

The final dish of JAVANESE SHORT RIB OF BEEF ; marinated in  green curry paste and slow cooked was very tender and juicy . It fell apart on contact and practically melts in the mouth . A perfect harmony of flavours with undertones of star anis infused sweet soy sauce .

A layered MIXED SPICE CAKE & CARAMELISED BANANA AND CHOCOLATE SPRING ROLL - MANGO SALAD brought this feast to it's conclusion . The cake was wonderfully light with hints of Cinnamon and nutmeg - while the Spring roll was a pleasant surprise  , as I dont usually like banana in dessert but here with the caramelisation and the Chocolate sauce  , it was a delicious dessert .

We polished off our plates with a smooth honeyed cider from HIGHBANK ORCHARD , beautiful , smooth and velvety ..... I could get used to this!!! Away with dessert wine which are often far too sweet  # Highbank orchard honeyed Cider is the New Dessert tipple .

As a   Bonus Surprise , I will be posting a couple of recipes of the dishes I sampled above in my next blog post , courtesy of Kevin & Carol O'Toole .

Thank you .

1, lower fownes st
Temple Bar , Dublin 2

 Tel : 353-1-6710362 

Photography : Mark Duggan

Tagged : robert jacob-chameleon restaurant-ethic cuisine-indonesia-kevin o'toole

©2012-2013;Robert Jacob;jacob'scrackers;jacobscrackers9; All rights reserved.


  1. oh, wow - every single dish looks amazing (great photography too btw)
    Lovely review - really enjoyed reading it.Very tantalising too!

  2. Thank you Lorna ,
    The food was truly excellent , When you are in Dublin next , do give it a try, you will love it .


  3. Replies
    1. I will be posting some recipes very soon , so you will be able to sample the food .
      Keep an eye out for them and let me know how you get on .