Tell a non-Irish person you’re craving a spice bag and they’re going to think you mean something else entirely, if you see what I mean. However, on the island of Ireland spice bags are a delicacy, whether eaten on a Friday night to see off the work week or on the morning after a heavy night. In fact, they’re the perfect hangover cure.
Where are spice bags from?
You’ll find them sold all over Ireland – a delicious mix of fried chicken, chips, spices, onions and often peppers and spring onions too. You can also buy vegan spice bags made with tofu instead of chicken. Ingredients and flavour differ depending on where you go, which is a part of the excitement spice bags evoke.
The Sunflower Chinese (Orwell Shopping Centre, Orwell Rd), in Templeougue, Dublin, is purported to have invented the dish in 2010. It’s spread like wildfire across Ireland since then and although they’re called spice bags, they often come in boxes to keep tubs of yellow, Chinese curry sauce level. Perfect for dipping your chips into.
Where serves the best spice bags?
Obviously, we can’t not mention The Sunflower Chinese. Their box includes spicy wings, chicken balls, ribs and chips, complete with curry sauce.
Then there’s LY Garden (Saint Dominic’s Shopping Centre, Unit 6) and Saba To Go (13 Rathgar Rd, Rathmines), whose boxes are pretty straightforward: chips, chicken, curry sauce and then sometimes a bit of rice to go with it. You’ll find similar ingredients at Foo Lok (73 Woodview Grove, Blanchardstown).
There are a few places serving spice bags with a bit of a twist. At Token (72-74 Queen St, Smithfield), you’ll find a vegan bag, with vegan chicken strips and a homemade Szechuan sauce in which to dip those delicious chips.
Duck (15 Fade St) offers everything you’d expect but instead of chicken their boxes feature duck. What a tasty way to spin a classic!
Other notable places, especially if you’re looking for a proper, indulgent takeaway are: Xian Street Food (28 Anne St S), Starry Night (109B Pearse St, Grand Canal Dock), Jumbo Wok (8 Fitzmaurice Rd, Ballygall), Flaming Wok (24 Fairview Strand, Fairview), Shangri La (463 Blackhorse Ave, Ashtown) and Riri’s Chinese (34 Parkgate St, Stoneybatter). Walk into any Chinese takeaway in Dublin and you’re likely to find a spice bag on the menu, but in recent years other places have also started selling them. You might even find them in your local pub!