Yuan Ming Yuan

17 Princes St, Cork, Ireland

Food: 4
Service: 5

Price: €25 per person

I am on the other side of the Isles this weekend, enjoying an unusual sunny Sunday in Cork, Ireland. These are those very few moments for which you are grateful it rains 350 days a year on the Emerald Island, so that you can enjoy the brightest and most varied green and blue shades when the sun actually shines.

And so I am back writing from the southern city of Cork, where, for some unknown reason, I found one of the nicest Chinese restaurants outside of China. I admit the food is not exactly the most truthful Chinese food. But, contrary to usual expectations, food here is fresh and pretty greasy-less compared to the average Chinese options.

The strongest dish of the house is steamed dim-sum with scallops and prawns. Incredibly soft, healthy-tasty and strengthened by the delicious, chunky Irish scallops. A portion gives three. Sometimes my partner and I have two portions each, just to make sure we go away with our mouths full of its flavour!

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The icing on the cake is the amazing service – especially offered by the manager Eric. If you show up more than three times, Eric will remember your name and your preferences. He now knows what I order from start to finish. When I showed up this weekend, he came to the table as soon as we sat down apologising for running out of scallops on the day! The restaurant kept to its standards once again though, even without scallops.

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The Cornstore

Area: South of Ireland, Cork

40A Cornmarket Street, Cork, Ireland

Food: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Price: € 30-35 per person (drinks excluded) – The Chateaubriand only is around € 25 per person

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Musselsphoto courtesy of Damiano Tescaro https://500px.com/coldancientbreeze

I lived in Ireland for a year and a half. In Cork precisely, not exactly a stunning city, still, with a surprisingly great variety of good quality restaurants. I start the international section of this blog with Ireland as never – in my southern European presumptuousness – I would have expected a northern European country to have such nice food.The Cornstore restaurant is without any shadow of doubt the best restaurant in Cork. No matter what anybody else might say, nobody will ever be able to convince me of the contrary. First of all because I have tried them all, and secondly because I have tried all possible meals at this place and I was never disappointed. Both the meat and fish are equally superb. Worth mentioning: Chateaubriand, mussels with garlic and haddock, a nice half lobster. The Cornstore met my expectations every time, in every season and at any time of the day.

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Detail of starter, photo courtesy of Damiano Tescaro https://500px.com/coldancientbreeze

The Cornstore is the perfect place if you feel like being pampered. I must say, I do not find the place particularly representative of Irish people. Irish folks are more easy going, more colorful, the country itself is a triumph of green and blue in all their shades. With Irish people what you see is that you get, which is what I always loved about them. Meals at Cornstore are a bit more complicated than that. At the same time though, it really makes Irish food justice. Local, fresh ingredients, touching every Irish shore.

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Detail of starterphoto courtesy of Damiano Tescaro https://500px.com/coldancientbreeze

I really hope I am not sounding like talking via stereotypes. I find that human beings just cannot help to decipher and judge the world around them but via instinctive sensations and organisational categories. I promise that any stereotype I will quote will be a positive one.

I also promised not to write ten pages-long articles, and I am going to struggle with this one as too many are the dishes worth mentioning at the Cornstore.

Antipasti

Carpaccio: this dish is no easy business. The meat must be extremely thin and fresh. Both qualities that you can find in Cornstore’s carpaccio. The horseradish cream is an unusual but welcome detail.

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Mixed antipastiphoto courtesy of Damiano Tescaro https://500px.com/coldancientbreeze

Mains

Cannelloni with battersquash, figs, goad cheese and red tomato pesto: these are an absolute delight. Never tasted such a good balance among these ingredients. Unfortunately the dish is available on the summer menu only. A good excuse to visit the place in different season.

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Chateaubriandphoto courtesy of Damiano Tescaro https://500px.com/coldancientbreeze

Chateaubriand: what a tenderness! If you love meat, this is a must-have at the Cornstore. Very tender beef, served with mushrooms, onions and roasted potatoes. On Sundays you might find the Chateaubriand among the specials, served with prawns. Giant prawns! Do not miss it for any reason.

Desserts

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Chocolate and orange tart, photo courtesy of Damiano Tescaro https://500px.com/coldancientbreeze

Sticky Toffee Pudding: again, available on the winter menu only. The pudding itself is very soft, when you taste it, it makes you feel wrapped in a soft woolen blanket. The caramel is not too sweet and perfectly balanced by the ice cream.

Absolutely the finest restaurant in Cork.