One of the latest openings is Chai Street Indian street kitchen, a sister restaurant to the existing Canton branch and a little sibling to the excellent Mint & Mustard.
We visited on a bitterly cold weeknight. The restaurant’s bright colours, bunting, wall art and reclaimed wood panelling were a sunny relief from the bleakness outside.
A mango lassi (£2.95) was cool and refreshing but could have taken a bigger hit of fragrant fruit.
Chai St Indian Pale Ale (£3.25), the house brew sourced from Brecon Brewery, was delicious. Easy drinking with just a light hint of hop, it was a good foil for the spicy food to come.
A trio of idli (£5.25) were pillowy soft fermented lentil rice cakes. Mildly flavoured with a slight tang, they were a frigging lovely match with the accompanying sambal that was dotted with green beans, okra and aubergine.
Tawa fish (£4.25) saw a beautifully flaky fillet coated in a golden spice crust that hummed with ginger, chilli and garlic.
Onto mains and the standout was a stonkingly good paratha wrap. The crisp and flaky flatbread was stuffed with shreds of yielding deeply spiced lamb and a few leaves. At £4.50 this has to be a contender for one of the best sub-five pound lunches in Cardiff.
A lamb thali (£9.95) was very good but lacked a bit in portion size. Tender lamb was bathed in a comforting sauce spiced with curry leaf and cinnamon. But, there were only 3 pieces of meat. It was joined by a lovely selection of tender potatoes tempered with mustard seed, mild lentil daal, super creamy raitha flecked with cucumber and mint, crisp poppadum shards, soft naan, fluffy rice and lip-puckering lime pickle.
A pot of lamb biryani (£7.50) was a little corker. The fluffy, buttery, lemony, cardamom twanged rice nestled pieces of tender lamb (it too could have done with a few more bits of meat) and was served with more of that lovely raitha.
Desserts were both killer.
A couple of scoops of creamy ice cream (£2.75) had a massive thwack of coconut.
Warm carrot halwa (£3.50) was a lush bowl of comfort food. The soft carrots and crisp cashew nuts soaked in sweetened milk were reminiscent of a super moist carrot cake.
Chai Street is far more than a decent independent addition to the City Centre, it’s an excellent one.
Disclosure - I was invited to Chai Street, all food and drink was complimentary.
Address - Chai Street, 15 High Street, Cardiff CF10 1AX
Web - http://chaistreet.com/
Telephone - 02920 399 399