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Koh: One Restaurant, Two Very Different Experiences

Cat's cake at Koh

Cat's cake at Koh

We’ve sung Koh‘s praises several times now – see here and here, and I could go on. We think it’s worth mentioning again. Of course, as with any restaurant, not everyone has had such good experiences. CheapEats reader Henry commented recently:

Our orders were taken at 8.30 (for 7.30 booking). The starters arrived and we were forced to eat these on plates from our laps due to lack of space on the 4 round tables in front of us. Following the starter, I requested to speak with the restaurant manager as I felt this was wholly inadequate for dining purposes. He was unhelpful and indicated that while he appreciated our custom, he could fill the tables on a Saturday night and typically had to refuse custom due to a full occupancy… [On leaving] we indicated to the waiting staff that while we appreciated their good service, we were very unhappy with the way management dealt with this situation. On leaving, the manager approached and indicated he did not appreciate the comment to the waiting staff.

Regular CheapEats writer Catriona McGrath had a much better experience:

On Sunday we were walking through town, having decided that cooking food for ourselves was out of the question, debating whether or not to go home and order takeaway or to find somewhere to eat when we happened to pass Koh in the Millenium Walkway.  Joan, a friend of mine from work, has been raving about it for ages now but I had never gotten around to trying it before and the opportunity was too perfect to pass up (what with how I was beginning to feel faint with the hunger).  It was around 5ish so we were there in plenty of time for the early bird menu – €20 for 3 courses or €17.50 for 2 courses – so we decided to go for that.

koh-logoFrom the moment we got into the restaurant I knew we had made the right choice.  We were seated in a booth and the restaurant was quiet enough that it felt like there was just the two of us there.  We had a bottle of wine – a chilean riesling – for €23 – I had the two courses and Jimmy had three.  The service was excellent, though I’m sure this was helped by the fact that the place was so quiet, but not overbearing – I hate when waiting staff are overly attentive and you almost feel like you should be inviting them to join you at the table.

For the starter I got the baby back ribs and Jimmy had the samosas (there was also a choice of Chicken Satay skewers or spring rolls).  The ribs was amazing… the meat just fell off the bone it was so tender and the sauce was delicious.  They were devoured in no time.  The samosas were good too, but not the best I’ve ever had.  They were mildly spicy and served with a kind of sour cream dipping sauce (I’m sure the chef would be livid if he heard me describe his sauce like that but anyway…).  Overall I thought they were a bit bland and we both agreed that the ribs were winning the evening so far.

For the mains I had the tofu pad thai and Jimmy had the thai green curry.  I’m not much of a curry connoisseur but it seemed to be an adequate Thai Green Curry; at any rate he cleaned his plate and appeared very satisfied with his meal!  I am however a Pad Thai connoisseur and this one was definitely up to scratch.  I know sometimes pad thai can vary in spiciness; this one was not spicey and that was perfect for me.  The tofu was the perfect consistency (if you like tofu which I know a lot of people don’t) and overall I really enjoyed my meal.  The other choices on the early bird menu were Red Beef Curry, Chicken Cashew Nut, and Singapore noodles.

The piece de resistance has to be the dessert though.  I was so full from starter and main that I passed on dessert – the choices were ice cream selection, banoffi pie, or mars bar cheesecake – but Jimmy decided to take one for the team and order the mars bar cheesecake.  Amazingly, as soon as his cheesecake was placed in front of him I miraculously found space for just a bite or two.  It was AMAZING!  I took a picture but only after we’d both already started devouring it.  It didn’t taste exactly like mars bar but it did ooze caramel when when you broke off a bit with the spoon and was just so tasty.  I would go back just for that if I knew what days it was going to be on the menu as ‘Koh made dessert of the day’.

Joan, I apologise for not following your recommendation sooner, I will definitely be going back to Koh.

What’s your experience of Koh?


  1. Eating food off your lap? That’s bloody unacceptable! God, my mother wouldn’t even let me get away with that at home. I’d like to actually set her on that manager!

  2. I’ve had mixed experiences there. I’ve always found the food to be good – very good in fact, and their cocktails are delicious. But when the place is busy, it’s not comfortable and the management don’t seem to give a cr*p at times.

  3. I’ve never been, but as an aside, I think Henrys’ treatment of the wait staff was unacceptable.

  4. In all seriousness, I had one of the tip-of-the-top worst meals of my life in this un-inspiring excuse for a restaurant. Ridiculously over-hyped, ridiculously over-priced and plain crap, serving ‘asian’ food in a sauce you clearly made from bisto with a few peppers thrown in is not only not on, it tastes disgusting. I’d been in before for lunch and was completely whelmed by the mediocrity of that too. No idea why this place gets rated so highly.

  5. I’d agree with the comment re Henry’s treatment of the wait staff – the setup in the lounge is not their fault.

    I’ve no issue with the food – have not had a bad meal in the place, although I’d agree with Kirstie that it’s on the pricey side. Food service is also pretty nippy.

    I’ve had middling to poor drinks service any time I’ve been in, though. Great cocktails and a good wine list, but the lounge/bar seems permanently understaffed and service is slow even when the place is quiet. When it’s busy, well… try waiting an hour for a round of drinks!

    My last night out there was on my birthday in May when the place was packed to the rafters with a hen party and yet only seemed to have one barman working – and making cocktail after cocktail. Two cocktails for part of my group took an hour to arrive – even after a word with one of the managers. We got a free round of shooters by way of an apology, although we would’ve left before that had there been anywhere else decent to go in the area.

  6. What exactly was wrong in Henry’s treatment of the waiting staff? He said he told them he appreciated their service, before pointing out a problem he had. If he was asked on his way out “Did you enjoy your meal?”, was he supposed to do the usual Irish thing and lie about it? If you say he should have taken it up with the manager directly – he did, but he said the manager was unhelpful.

    The reason some restaurants get away with shoddy treatment is because people don’t complain, they just grin and bear it (“How is your meal sir?” / “Great, great” / “This is way overdone/off”)

  7. Steve – if you read Henry’s full comment he cites his only issues as having been with the management, not the wait staff.

    He commended the wait staff on their service but left a small tip and bitched about their bosses to them. I can imagine he was frustrated but it strikes me as a pointlessly vindictive response to the situation.

    There are three guys running the shop at Koh so I’d suggest he take the issue up with them directly.