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I recently visited Neko Carlow, an Asian restaurant the like of which I have rarely visited in Ireland. I spotted the restaurant on Google Maps as I was traveling from Dublin and wanted to find a restaurant halfway between Dublin and Waterford and Carlow was the ideal option.

Neko is located at 20 Dublin Street in Carlow. The location is on a nice street and late on Sunday evening parking was not a problem. We did not have a reservation but since there were only 2 of us, it was not an issue and we were seated promptly.

The menu looked varied and also looked like the style which I like, a good mix of traditional and fusion meals. The smells from the kitchen and also as meals passed were amazing. We ordered our mains and before we got them, there was an amuse-bouche style dish compliments of the chef.

From the Neko website, it seems the chef takes a lot of pride in the restaurant, “Our head chef believes there are three main facets of running a good restaurant: First is hygiene, second is fresh and healthy food, and third is service. “This is very obvious as the food and the service was phenomenal.  The head chef is Simon Lim, a Malaysian-born chef who comes from a family of cooks. Also, it has to be noted that they do not use MSG here if this is something you like to avoid. Personally, I don’t mind it but I know some people have intolerances to it. They also use 100% Irish Sirloin Beef, 100% Irish Lamb Shank from Clonmore Meats in Wicklow, and Fresh Chicken, Seafood, and Vegetables! 

I got the Neko Prawn Black Bean with Noodles and it was just delicious. Not just the food but the way it was presented and served. Totally enjoyed the whole meal, as it was something to be savoured, enjoyed, and remembered. We did get dessert of Churros afterwards and I think it was just to sit and enjoy the lovely surroundings. The interior is beautifully decorated and I am very impressed that such a hidden gem of a restaurant is within an hour’s drive of where I live.

I would recommend making a reservation if you wish to visit Neko. You will not be disappointed. I will be back and next time, I will make a reservation and will try the full 3 courses.  They are open 7 days from 12:30 to about 10 pm, Sundays from 1 pm.

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