- a blog about food and value

The Best Cheap Eat in Dublin: Hilan Chinese and Korean Restaurant

image0128I think I’ve found the best cheap eat in Dublin. It’s Hilan Chinese and Korean restaurant on Capel Street, and it’s the only restaurant I’ve ever visited five times.

Looking at the prices on the menu, you’d expect cheap tasting food. Far from it: the meat, chicken and fish are all high-grade and full of flavour. No strings of beef held together by clumps of fat here.

On seperate occasions, I’ve plumped for a deliciously spicy, utterly ungloopy Kong Po chicken; the astonishingly beautiful Sizzling Fish Hunan, a whole sea bass with spices and a magical broth; and the well-presented, perfectly seasoned ribs.

But it’s the Korean barbeques that really shine here. For the damn unbelievable sum of €39.80, the BBQ for two will easily provide a sumptous banquet for three complete pigs.

hilan bbqIt’s a wonderfully simple idea. The food arrives at your table with a lot of sauces and some potato or sweet potato, and you slowly grill it in your own time. It’s not a gimmick like the Mongolian BBQ in Temple Bar, but a great way of slowly savouring your food. Three can easily spend an entire evening here, have a few beers, and still spend less than €60. They won’t rush you out.

Hilan is becoming increasingly popular so it can be hard to get a table here. The restaurant has a buzzy, lively interior and you’ll find many Koreans eating here: always a good sign. They’re drawn not just by the outstanding food and excellent value, but also by the impeccable service. The staff here are genuinely friendly, helpful, and accommodating: definitely the best service I’ve ever encountered in Dublin.

As you might be able to tell, I can’t recommend this place highly enough. I might regret it though, because once word spreads, it’s going to be nigh on impossible getting a table here.

  • Hilan, 45 Capel St., Dublin City North. Tel: 018748677


  1. The Hilan is the best Chinese restaurant in the city and I would say that we eat there at least 3-4 times a month. We do try to branch out to other restaurants (M&L or Fortuna Siuchan) but we keep coming back to the Hilan.

    The staff are pleasant, helpful and friendly, the atmosphere is buzzing and most importantly, the food is amazing. Try the garlic streamed prawns, dry fried chili beef or the scallops. Amazing stuff.

  2. “will easily provide a sumptous banquet for three complete pigs.” You had me at pigs. I must eat there next time Im up from the country.

  3. OMG this is so weird, I ate there last night for the first time! Really enjoyed my sizzling seafood and the BBQs look great. I’ll be back.

  4. On the phone to them booking a table now! I’m clearly very easily influenced.

  5. I love this place and come back regularly for both the bbqs and the Hot Pots! Brilliant value and delicious. They are very generous with their portions too, I never manage to finish mine. The staff are lovely and helpful too even if we make a bit of a mess dishing out the Hot Pot.

  6. I have discovered Hilan in 2006 I think… They were just starting off and Ive stumbled upon them during xmas time, hungry and tired after shopping, and nowhere to go cause everything was packed. I went in there and never looked back… *laughs* I was living in Clontarf at the time and my ”local” was a fancy Chinese place that I can tell you.. would lose out to Hilan in a jiffy. Highly recommended, excellent food and heck, they came along way service wise since 2006. I love that place, the food, the staff (the floor manager has been there since 2006, got to see her promoted *laughs*). One thing tho: during winter time, Id suggest you ask for a table that is not close to the door, its always left open by people coming and going.

  7. I’m fascinated with the real Chinese restaurants in Dublin. M&L is my favorite. never been to Hilan – but will try it. If you want to order real Chinese food from a real restaurant – check out this course that teaches you enough Chinese to order your food, and brings you for a Chinese dinner – Great fun – great food – and a new language!!