Thursday, 30 October 2014

Chilli Basil, City Road, Cardiff Thai restaurant review

With just four tables and sixteen covers, the newly opened Chilli Basil on City Road must surely be Cardiff’s smallest restaurant.

(Answers on the back of a postcard or the comment section below if you can think of anywhere tinier.)

Whilst this Thai restaurant’s Lilliputian proportions mean there may often be a wait for a table, you can always pass the time with a pre-dinner cocktail across the road in Milgi’s or take advantage of Chilli Basil’s home delivery service instead.

Neither are exactly hardships.

quarter of the restaurant
As Chilli Basil don’t have an alcohol license we ordered a clutch of interesting soft drinks. For me, a tamarind juice with a familiar sweetness and tang. For a friend, a snowglobe like coconut juice with floating bits of white pulp.

Mrs G ordered a pot of Jasmine tea.

Chilli Basil’s menu is packed with all the usual Thai restaurant classics. Salads, curries, soups and stir-fries are all present and correct.

A bowl of crisp and ultra-prawny prawn crackers (£1) kicked off the meal. In case you're wondering, the ultra-prawniness is a good thing in my book.

A bowl of chicken Tom Yum (£3) was a great example of one Thai cuisine's most famous dishes. Tender chicken, mild spring onions and mushrooms bobbed in the fragrant and sour broth - heady with lemongrass, coriander and lime.

A pretty looking dish of chicken and prawn dumplings was very tasty but didn’t have a huge depth of flavour. The thin dumpling cases (£3.50) contained a finely minced filling topped with toasted peanuts.

In contrast, a green papaya salad was loaded with flavour (£6). Shreds of fruit and carrot, al dente green beans and sweet cherry tomatoes were bathed in a wildly hot and sour citrusy dressing. Crunchy peanuts added textural contrast whilst some annoyingly chewy dried baby shrimps were the only negative. 

Onto the mains….

A delicious duck yellow curry (£6.49) was laden with soft meat and vibrant vegetables (carrot, courgette, aubergine, peppers and bamboo shoots) in a silky, creamy coconut sauce. A mound of sticky, steamed rice mopped up any stray sauce. 

Chicken pad thai (£5.99) was on the nail – slippery rice noodles, beansprouts, finely diced carrot, egg and chicken were coated in a slightly sweet and tangy sauce topped with crushed peanuts. 

Finally, a bowl of egg fried rice (£2) demonstrated how well Chilli Basil can do the simple things – the golden rice was flecked with fresh omelette, spring onion and carrots. 

So all in all, the food at Chilli Basil was excellent and the service was super-friendly too.

However, we did have one issue. Whilst it’s common in some restaurants for dishes to be brought out as and when they’re ready, Chilli Basil take this principle to the extreme. I received both of my dishes before two of my friends even received one. Furthermore, the papaya salad, labelled as a starter, arrived a good ten minutes after every other dish on the table.

In spite of this, I’m more than willing to give Chilli Basil the benefit of the doubt; they’ve been open for less than 2 weeks and so I’m sure this service issue will be ironed out.

In addition, the price of the meal more than compensated for the timing issues. We each had two courses and a drink and paid £12 a head including a tip. Bargain.

The Details:

Address - Chilli Basil, 232 City Road, Roath, Cardiff CF24 3JH
Telephone - 07786 970 977 or 02920 482 233

Chilli Basil on Urbanspoon


  1. Good review, I nearly went there yesterday myself but ended up opting for a Bento Box from Tenkaichi instead. It's funny that the one thing you didn't like about this place - the annoyingly chewy dried prawns in the green papaya salad - is the one thing that really makes me want to try it! They are often left out of the dish when it's served in the UK, but I love the salty little things! Your comment gives a potential insight as to why they are left out more often than not. Either way, I'm salivating just typing this and am looking forward to visiting soon!

    1. Cheers - Tenkaichi's a good call too. Really interesting to know the chewy dried prawns are an authentic addition - still definitely not to my taste! Hope you have a great meal when you visit.

  2. this place is soooo yummy!! and such good value for money. I'm there pretty much on a weekly basis. as it serves halal meat, its also popular with my friends