Hometown: Dublin, Ireland
Occupation: Co-owner and Chef, Hang Dai
Years lived in Dublin: “Most of my life”
Years in the kitchen: 22 years
Awards/Accolades: Hang Dai shortlisted for Best Chef, Best Newcomer, Best World Cuisine, and Best Restaurant Manager, Irish Restaurant Awards (2017)
Best Restaurant and Best Dublin Restaurant for Luna (under Chef Karl Whelan), Irish Restaurant Awards (2016)
Click here for Chef Karl’s shortlist
Five Must-Try Restaurants
Delahunt on Camden Street. Great local ingredients cooked with finesse. Here they have done an amazing restoration of one of the most beautiful buildings on the street. It also has a killer cocktail bar upstairs.
Klaw Poke on Capel Street is buzzing. They serve savage poke bowls, have a killer oyster selection, as well as simply prepared crab and lobster.Editor’s note: Since publication of this interview, Klaw Poke has closed.
On Leeson Street, Forest & Marcy is outstanding—small dishes and snacks, great wines so you can build your own tasting menu. Their fermented potato bread with bacon and cabbage is amazing.
Luna is my favourite! It ticks all the boxes for a special night out. You really feel like you have gone back in time; the food is refined and playful, service is warm but slick, the manager and chef are both hot. The poached fillet of beef with foie gras and truffle is unbelievable.
Editor’s note: Since publication of this interview, Luna has closed.
Good World dim sum. You don’t go here for smiles, you go here for dim sum at lunch time. Great selection of dim sum, each better than the next, all made in house and as good as you would find in Hong Kong.
Personal Favorite Dish at Hang Dai
My favorite dish at the moment in Hang Dai is braised duck hearts in chili bean sauce with bleu cheese mousse. This is a luxury dish made with an off cut like all the most chefy dishes. And I could eat it all day.
My Perfect Dining Day Out
Breakfast, I’d go to Five Points in Harold’s Cross and have the Gubbeen chorizo with a coffee. Swing into The Long Hall for a couple of sneaky pints, then across town to Chapter One to spend the rest of the afternoon getting stuck into a tasting menu. Then to the roof of the Marker Hotel for cocktails in the sun. Then to Luna for the works: full Italian banquet topped off with one of their flame-grilled T-bones and the whole dessert trolley. Then back to Hang Dai to dance off the 6,000 or so calories I just ate.
The Best Guinness in Dublin
Either The Long Hall or The Gravediggers at the back of Glasnevin Cemetery, which is a cool place to visit as it happens.
My Guilty Pleasure
Probably Bunsen Burger‘s straight up cheeseburger.
The Dish I Wish I Came Up With Myself
The fermented potato bread with bacon and cabbage at Forest and Marcy.
Favorite Cheap Eats
Eatyard just beside the Bernard Shaw on Richmond Street has loads of cool stalls selling everything from goat to steam buns with good tunes and a nice vibe.
Go-To Watering Hole
I go to Anseo on Camden Street a lot—great selection of craft beers and vinyl only-DJ every night. Great local spot.
The Best Thing About Dublin’s Dining Scene
Dublin’s food scene is super exciting at the moment; there’s new places opening left, right, and center! A big upsurge in small, chef-driven restaurants doing amazing things and cafes focusing on locally sourced produce and simple cooking are great to see.
The One Thing All Visitors to Dublin Should See
The newly opened Pearse Lyons Distillery is breathtaking. It is in an old church and they installed the pot stills on the altar—it’s crazy.
Chef Karl’s Shortlist
Hang Dai, 20 Camden Street Lower (Dublin 2); Chinese, dinner only Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday-Monday.
Personal favorite dish: Braised duck hearts in chili bean sauce and bleu cheese mousse.
Delahunt, 39 Camden Street Lower (Dublin 2); contemporary Irish, dinner only Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday-Monday.
Klaw Poke, 159 Capel Street (Dublin 1); Hawaiian/seafood, lunch and dinner daily.
Recommended dishes: Poke bowls, oysters, crab, lobster.Editor’s note: Since publication of this interview, Klaw Poke has closed.
Forest & Marcy, 126 Leeson Street Upper (Dublin 4); wine room, lunch Friday-Saturday, dinner Wednesday-Sunday, closed Monday-Tuesday.
Recommended dish: Fermented potato bread with bacon and cabbage.
Luna, Unit 2-3 Drury Street (Dublin 2); Italian, dinner only Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday-Monday.
Recommended dish: Poached fillet of beef with foie gras and truffle.Editor’s note: Since publication of this interview, Luna has closed.
Good World Chinese Restaurant, 18 South Great George’s Street (Dublin 2); Chinese, lunch and dinner daily.
Recommended: dim sum.
Five Points, 288A Harold’s Cross Road (Dublin 6W); cafe/coffee shop, open daily.
Recommended dish: Gubbeen chorizo.
The Long Hall, 51 South Great George’s Street (Dublin 2); pub, open daily.
Chapter One, 18-19 Parnell Square N, Rotunda (Dublin 1); Irish fine dining, lunch Tuesday-Friday, dinner Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday-Monday.
Recommended: Tasting menu.
Rooftop Bar and Terrace at The Marker Hotel, Grand Canal Square (Dublin 2); bar, open daily but may be closed due to weather or private events.
John Kavanagh “The Gravediggers,” 1 Prospect Square (Dublin 9); pub, lunch and dinner daily.
Bunsen, 36 Wexford Street (Dublin 2); burgers, lunch and dinner daily.
Second location: 22 Essex Street East (Dublin 2), lunch and dinner daily.
Third location: 3 Anne Street South (Dublin 2), lunch and dinner daily.
Fourth location: 97 Ranelagh (Dublin 2), lunch and dinner daily.
Recommended dish: Cheeseburger.
Eatyard, 9-10 South Richmond Street (Dublin 2); food market, open Thursday-Sunday from 12 p.m.
Recommended: Cheap budget eats
Anseo, 18 Camden Street Lower (Dublin 2); bar, open nightly.
Pearse Lyons Distillery, 121-122 St. James’s Street (Dublin 8); Irish whiskey distillery, tours offered daily.
About the Chef: “When I was table height, I went to my Great Aunt Sarah’s funeral dinner in the Montrose Hotel, Stillorgan,” recalls Karl Whelan. “I remember asking about the asparagus soup and being taken on a tour of the kitchen by the head chef; it blew my tiny mind. The atmosphere, the tall chef hats, the intensity.”
From that young age, Whelan’s curiosity for food and cooking was born. His professional career started in the Dublin suburb of Rathgar, as a dishwasher at the Ivy Court. In time, he assumed real cooking duties at Michelin-starred restaurants such as Le Meurice in Paris and Chapter One in Dublin. He was executive head chef of Luna when in 2016, the Italian eatery was declared the best restaurant in all of Ireland by the Irish Restaurant Awards.
In November 2016, Whelan and his long-time friend Will Dempsey opened Hang Dai. A Chinese restaurant, bar, and club, their venture combines Whelan’s love for cooking and Dempsey’s passion for DJing. Their favorite Chinese dishes are on offer (duck is the star on the menu), and DJs and a top-notch sound system provide the beats and ear candy post-dinner.