The alchemical crisping and caramelisation of flesh as it spends time in a hot oven is one of the true joys of life.
Roast lamb with mint sauce.
Roast beef with horseradish and Yorkshire pudding.
Roast chicken with herby stuffing and crisp spuds.
These are a few of my favourite things.
The Chinese have their own magic way with roast meats and on a recent trip to London, I tried the so called “best roast duck in the world” from the Four Seasons. I’m not sure about that accolade, but it was pretty lush.
On my return to Cardiff, I was keen to track down the city’s own best efforts.
|Four Seasons, London|
Chinese, Malaysian and Singaporean rice and noodle dishes dominate the menu and it’s clear from the packed house on a Saturday lunchtime that it’s popular with the local student population.
A pot of Jasmine tea (£3) was our go to option due to the lack of booze available.
On the recommendation of the waitress, we ordered tempura prawns to start (£3.50). Yes, £3.50. A quartet of gargantuan prawns were coated in light and super crisp batter. Mayonnaise and sweet chilli sauce were nice dips - the mayo provided a guilty pleasure McChicken sandwich-esque flavour combo.
Tempura vegetables also (£2.50) demonstrated Happy Lok’s skills at deep frying. Tender aubergine, peppers and wafer thin onions were coated in bubbly grease free batter.
Squid with salt, chilli and garlic (£3.50) were devoid of any of the advertised seasoning so were essentially first rate tempura squid.
Having exceeded our weekly allowance of deep fried stuff, we moved onto mains.
I ordered the San Bao rice (£7.50), offering a trinity of roast meats with various accompaniments.
All the meats were excellent, but a tad tepid - roast duck with its soft flesh and burnished thin skin, belly pork with the crispest of crackling and char sui pork with its sweet glaze.
Rice, cucumber, wilted greens, a runny yolk fried egg and a good drizzle of soy sauce completed the lovely plate of food.
Nasi Lemak (£8.50) was a great example of the dish. Sticky coconut fragranced rice, a crisp-skinned chicken portion coated in a deeply spiced coconut sauce, jammy chilli sauce, cucumber, fishy dried anchovies, crunchy nuts and cucumber slices all combined to make a deliciously comforting plate of food.
Happy Lok Diner is a great place to satisfy my roast meat cravings and the other food is lovely too. I'd highly recommend it for a great value bite to eat.
Address - Happy Lok Diner, 53 Crwys Road, Cardiff CF24 4ND
Telephone - 02920 371407