Shopping Guide

From Blasta Books #5: SOUP by Blanca Valencia, Dee Laffan & Mei Chin

Capel Street is our favourite street in Dublin city for many reasons, but mainly for food shopping. We regularly walk the length and breadth of it and we’re obsessed with the variety of ingredients available – it’s a global food tour on our doorstep. Here are just a few of our top spots.


This Spanish food shop has a wide offering of cheeses, cured Ibérico products, rice, conservas and wines. They also stock everyday foods that, as Blanca puts it, ‘us Spanish miss from home’, like pâtés, cookies and chocolate spread, but they also stock brands like La Chinata, who make fancier products. They occasionally stock cooked octopus tentacles to make the famous Galician pulpo á feira, a dish of octopus, boiled potatoes, paprika and olive oil.


At the time of writing, Ayla is the best place in the country to buy Turkish food. The in-house bakery is the star here, with a selection of goods, savoury and sweet, that are all must-try. A wide range of sandwiches and börek, from cheesy, veggie slices to long, mince-filled, finger-shaped filo pastries, line the shelves adjacent to pidas, simit and, of course, the sweet selection, including baklava, sekerpare, trileçe and kadayif. Ayla also proudly sells their own sujuk, a smoked paprika beef sausage, which is made using Irish beef. The olive counter has a pay-by-weight selection of olives or you can buy jarred versions that are equally as good, just not as fresh, and they stock great olive oil too.


Coreana is Dublin’s only dedicated Korean food market where you will also find Korean household items like metal chopsticks, metal soup spoons and just-too-cute dishwashing gloves. Its boutique size and the meticulous organisation of its ingredients make this the ideal place to go for anyone who is interested in cooking Korean food but isn’t sure where to start.


Just a short wander from Capel Street down the side of PantiBar to Strand Street is where you’ll find Han Sung, which stocks mostly Chinese and Korean foods with a nice helping of Japanese ingredients too. Its restaurant counter in the back of the store is famous for serving delicious renditions of classics like seafood and tofu jjigae stew, kimchi fried rice and bibimbap.


While this shop, part of a chain of 20 stores, specialises in food from Eastern Europe, it’s also a supplier of other international ingredients, including from the Netherlands, Poland, Georgia, Germany and Spain. The fresh food market is particularly good and they have a range of ingredients for soups, such as sour cream, beetroot juice and kvass and barley.


Another short meander from Capel Street to the Jervis Luas stop and you’ll find this excellent Chinese store. Mei says this ‘spectacular’ seafood counter ‘has daily offerings of octopus, cockles, geoduck clams, monkfish tails, rosy snappers, turbot and live lobsters and crabs that draw customers from all countries and walks of life’. The grocery store is slightly unorganised in layout, but if you know what you’re heading in for, you can ask for directions or advice – we’ve found the staff to be really helpful.


Padoca is a quality Brazilian bakery and restaurant. Drop in here for the best breakfast tapiocas, freshly baked treats and salgados, such as sonho (custard-filled doughnuts), pão de queijo, coxinha and incredible cakes (order in advance), plus sweets such as brigadeiros and beijinhos.


This Filipino store on Mary Street off Capel Street carries Filipino ingredients and other Asian products. We love the tins for making leche flan, the ube (purple yam) cakes, banana ketchup, noodles, fresh vegetables and the ingredients for making champorado, the chocolate glutinous rice dessert. They carry the excellent baked goods from Golden Ribbon Bakery in Dorset Street (the pan de sal and pan de coco are our favourites). Staff at both this location and the Dún Laoghaire one are always helpful and will give you good recommendations, especially if you are cooking Filipino dishes.


Both ends of Capel Street are chequered with Brazilian grocery shops. Real Brasil Food & Grocery is closest to the Grattan Bridge end. While it has a big selection of ambient products, it’s best for their fresh and frozen offering, from Brazilian cheeses to meats such as picanha and Toscana sausage.

O Brasileiro, at the Parnell Street end, has a better variety of dried goods, from cassava flours to beans and tapioca. @obrasileiroshopoficial

With two on the street to choose from, you’ll definitely find everything you need.


Home to the White Rabbit Korean restaurant in the back of the market, this Asian shop is not primarily Korean, but they do have a brilliant range of Korean ramen and other (primarily) Chinese and Japanese ingredients. We love it for the packets of fresh noodles you can find in the fridge, the meat counter and the selection of vegetables.