According to our Jordanian friend who we were dining with on Friday night, Mina is Cardiff’s best middle-eastern restaurant. Its interior is charmingly Bedouin inspired, the service is friendly and most importantly they do a mean kebab. Except for the lacklustre desserts he might well be onto something.
Whilst waiting for the starters to arrive I necked a rather fine bottle of Lebanese almaza lager (£3.25)
The selection of mezzes with Arabic bread to share (£12.50) was on the nail in every aspect. Hummus was smooth with a good whack of tahini; taboulle was fragrant and jam packed with fresh herbs; mouttabal had a lovely smoky, creamy, auberginey thing going on; falafel and kibba were crisp and well seasoned and the waraq enab were reminiscent of a hot lamby dolma.
For mains I ordered the meatiest kebab option on the menu, the mashwi mwshakal (£12.95). A mixture of chicken shish, lamb kofta and lamb shish were chargrilled to perfection. The medium cooked lamb shish and the lemon marinated chicken were some of the most tender kebab meat I’ve ever eaten. The accompanying rice was butterlicious and the pot of yoghurt sauce with a little garlic provided some welcome moisture.
Mrs G’s Mina lamb (£11.95) wasn’t much on the eye but was a spot on piece of comfort food. A generous mound of slow cooked lamb in a mildly spiced tomato sauce was also served with some of the seriously moreish buttery rice.
Dessert was the only let down. My selection of baklava (£4.00) was fairly dry and didn’t ooze with honey like the best examples I’ve eaten. In fact I’m pretty certain it was shop bought. I was also disappointed by the accompanying room temperature squirty cream. Mrs G’s homemade yoghurt with honey and pistachios was tasty but I doubt I’d be able to tell the difference between homemade and decent supermarket yoghurt in a blind taste test.
So 2 excellent courses, 1 poor course, friendly service and a buzzing atmosphere; all in all it added up to an excellent meal. Next time I’ll just buy a bar of Dairy Milk for pudding on the way home.
Mina Restaurant, 43 Crwys Road, Cardiff, CF24 4ND
Telephone - 02920 235212