Saturday, 28 January 2017

Sushi Life, Roath, Cardiff Japanese restaurant review


The newest kid on the Wellfield Road block is Sushi Life.

A Japanese restaurant is a fitting opening for January when many people are on health kicks. My month hasn't gone so well… a trip to London a couple of weeks ago involved two lunches a day on more than one occasion.


Owned by the former head chef and manager of the excellent Yakitori #1, Sushi Life's prices are exceptionally reasonable.

Bottles of very drinkable Sapporo and Ichiban were £3 and £3.50 respectively.


Agedashi tofu (£3.50) achieved the challenging feat of being more addictive than Smith’s Bacon Fries. The creamiest of tofu was coated in unfeasibly light and crunchy tempura batter. 


Chicken katsu curry (£8) saw a delightfully crisp chicken cutlet bathed in mild Japanese curry sauce. In an enjoyably Caaardiff twist, it was served with half ‘n’ half comprising of crunchy fries and sticky rice. A side salad was coated in a compelling thousand island dressing.  

 
Crunch California maki rolls (£6) didn’t quite work for me but Mrs G was a fan. The twist on the crab stick and avocado filled rolls saw them coated in breadcrumbs and lightly fried – their warm temperature let the dish down.

In contrast, Green dragon (£6.50) maki rolls were bang up my street – the combination of fresh salmon, tender avocado and crisp cucumber was impossible to fault. 


During lunchtimes, Sushi Life also serve some exceptionally good value takeaway deals.

I ordered combo 1 (£6.50).

Salmon, tuna, prawn and avocado nigiri were all impeccably fresh and the rice was well textured.


Tuna and avocado and crab stick, avocado and salmon were the two highlights of the eight pieces of maki. You can tell there's a lot of care that goes into the construction of each pretty roll.


Much like the recently opened Porro on Wellfield Road, I predict I’m going to become a regular at Sushi Life. The fact I've already been twice in one week says it all. 

Disclosure - I was invited to Sushi Life, all food and drink on my first visit was complimentary. I paid for my takeaway.

The Details:

Address - Sushi Life, Globe Centre, Wellfield Road, Roath, Cardiff CF24 3PE
Telephone - 02920459703  '


Saturday, 21 January 2017

Ponnuswamy and So Sweet, Cardiff restaurant reviews


This blog post might seem a bit familiar. However, you’re having that sense of déjà vu for a reason.

The spot on City Road where Ponnuswamy is located has been the home to a number of South Indian restaurants over the years. And, I pretty much always order the same thing.

Madras in Wales was the first I reviewed back in 2013

Kumar’s was the next incarnation to come along in 2014. One of my favourite restaurants in the ‘Diff, it sadly closed its doors last October.

Thankfully, another South Indian restaurant has taken over the reins in the form of Ponnuswamy.

The décor is still exactly the same as Kumar’s. The menu seems almost identical. And, it’s still BYOB.


A pair of idli (£3.25) were spongy, soft vehicles for the accompanying chutneys and sauces. They included a spicy tomato number, a chickeny lentil stew and coriander and creamy coconut chutneys.


Cauliflower Manchurian (£3.95) was every bit as good as Kumar’s version – pan fried cauliflower, peppers and onions with just the right amount of bite were bathed in a soy and chilli heavy Indo-Chinese sauce. 


Lamb kothu parotta (£7) was also just as good as always. The comforting mix of shredded flatbread, tender lamb, tomatoes, onions, curry leaf and scrambled egg served with a bowl of curry sauce and raitha is still one of my all time favourite bits of comfort food. 


A dish of parotta (£7.40) and chicken curry was good but not quite at the level of the other dishes – a pair of parottas were crisp and slightly elastic but they didn’t achieve the buttery flakiness of the very best examples. A coconut-based chicken curry meanwhile was well spiced and studded with a decent amount of tender meat. 


Massala chai was creamy with a good hit of warming spice. 


Overall, I was impressed with Ponnuswamy. If I’m looking for a plate of cauliflower manchurian and lamb kothu parotta, it’s definitely going to be my go to destination. 

Despite being stuffed to the gills, we stopped off on the way back home at the recently opened So Good on City Road. This bakery and coffee shop specialises in baklava that they bake daily. 


They were all impeccably fresh and tasty (and a box of six came to a very good value £2.25). 


Highlights included hazelnut and pistachio varieties that were seriously crisp and not over-drenched in syrup. A pair of circular hazelnut and almond ones were also heroically good.


The Details:

Ponnuswamy
Address - 129 City Road, Cardiff, CF24 3BP
Telephone - 02920 094 094

So Sweet
Address - 211a City Road, Cardiff, CF24 3JD
Telephone - 07565 605654

Saturday, 14 January 2017

The Pot, Cardiff French restaurant review


I’ve been umming and ahhing about whether I should re-review The Pot or not. 

You see, the main thing that's changed since my last visit is that they've relocated from Crwys Road to Whitchurch Road.

The menu is still packed with crowd-pleasing French comfort food. And the new restaurant space is still enjoyably quaint with a warm and friendly feel.


A bowl of mixed olives (devoured as we browsed the menu) hit the mark. But, the beer selection on offer was slightly underwhelming – I’m not sure Kronenburg 1664 or San Miguel have ever set anyone's pulse racing.


We ordered a few starters to share.

A baked camembert (£9) was a wintery delight. The gooey, slightly funky cheese was seasoned with a good drizzle of sweet honey and a sprig of fragrant thyme. Golden homemade breadsticks were perfect for dipping.


A lovely charcuterie selection comprised of smoked duck breast pieces, a chunky ham and bacon terrine, garlic spiked cream cheese, good salami and air-dried ham and disappointingly dry croutons. My only question mark was the price point – for £13.95 I’d have expected a more generous portion. 


The same couldn’t be said for the mains, which were bounteous in size.

A crisp and tender confit duck leg (£16.95) was served on top of a mountain of mixed bean cassoulet; the soft beans were flecked with smoked bacon pieces and coated in a rich tomato sauce with a little spike of chilli. 


Beef bourguignon (£14.95) was another lovely cold weather warmer – a big bowlful of yielding slow cooked beef pieces, mushrooms and onions were bathed in a comfortingly rich and meaty red wine sauce. It was served with a pot of smooth mashed potato. 


I’d argue that my main was the pick of the bunch. Perfectly pink lamb rump and cutlets (£19.95) were served with a slab of cheesy, crispy, soft tartiflette (the layers of potato still defined instead of turning into stodge). A glossy sauce, smooth carrot puree, cubes of black pudding and sautéed leeks completed the excellent plate of rustic food. 


A slab of bread and butter pudding (£5.75) looked heavy but was deceptively light. The soft, raisin-flecked pud was infused with a delicate hit of Cointreau and served with smooth custard. 


A crème brûlée (£5.25) was described by my friend across the table as the lightest he had ever encountered. 


We had a delicious dinner at The Pot and the serving team were super-friendly and efficient.

If you’re looking for lovely comfort food in a relaxed atmosphere then it’s still a safe bet.

The Details:

Address - The Pot, 55A Whitchurch Rd, Cardiff CF14 5NL
Web - http://www.thepotcafe.co.uk/
Telephone - 029 2061 1204

Friday, 6 January 2017

Burger Theory, Kongs, Cardiff City Centre review


Using a pop-up as a stepping stone to opening a permanent restaurant is a tried and tested formula.

Hang Fire did it. So did Got Beef. And Dusty Knuckle too.

But each of these pop-ups were never longer than a couple of days a week over the space of a few months.

So, the more long-term relationship between Burger Theory and Kongs bar is a unique one. The Bristol-based burger makers already have a residency at Kongs in Bristol seven days a week and now they’re doing the same at the recently opened Cardiff Kongs.


Kongs is a nice place – it has a post-apocalyptic vibe with its subterranean setting, exposed concrete ceiling and reclaimed wood furniture.

The main selling points are a host of retro arcade games at a pricey £1 a play and a pair of table tennis tables that are free to use (except on Fridays and Saturdays when they’ll be charging £5 per half hour). 


The beer selection is decent too. I had a citrusy pale ale from Wiper & True whilst Mrs G drank a Beavertown Gamma Ray.


Ultimately though, we were interested in the food.

Burger Theory’s menu is packed with interesting burgers from the Korean fried chicken burger to a Southern fried portabello mushroom with halloumi. There’s also funky sounding sides such as pulled ham dirty fries and a pork and venison scotch egg.


I ordered the Cheese theory (£8.75) – topped with a good ooze of cheddar, thin and crisp streaky bacon, shredded lettuce, sweet gherkins, red onion, mayo and homemade tangy ketchup.


Mrs G ordered the Sheriff (£9.25) – again topped with cheddar, bacon and lettuce as well as smoky barbecue sauce, tomato and golden onion rings. 


Both were served in an excellent brioche bun with a golden glaze and a soft, sweet crumb that held together well.

The 5oz coarse Welsh beef patties were served a super juicy medium pink. 


Both were first rate burgers. In fact, both were frigging awesome burgers.

The skin on fries were on the nail too (£2.95) – well-seasoned, fluffy and copious in quantity.

I like Burger Theory a lot and I can't wait to give the rest of their burgers a run for their money.

Disclosure - I was invited to Burger Theory, all food was complimentary.

The Details:

Address - Kongs Cardiff, Hodge House, 114-116 St Mary St, Cardiff CF10 1DY