Southern Indian food is one of Cardiff’s strongest suits. Purple Poppadom, Mint & Mustard, Kumar’s, Spice Berry, Chaiholics and The Duchess of Delhi all predominantly serve south Indian cuisine that ranges from the good to the outstanding.
Mint & Mustard were the pioneers back in 2007 and now they’ve resurrected Chai Street, their cheap-eat concept which used to live next door to the mothership on Whitchurch Road.
The relocation to Canton seems like an obvious move - the restaurants no longer stealing business of each other.
The décor is a charming mix of Bollywood posters, vibrant colours and reclaimed wood.
The menu meanwhile focuses on street food snacks, kati rolls and their famous thalis.
A mango lassi was ultra-thick, ice cold and fragrant (£2.95).
Pav bhaji (£4.95) wasn’t much on the eye but was moreish as heck. A toasted roll was served with minced potato in a spicy and buttery tomato-based gravy. If you’d told me it was keema I’d have believed you, such was its depth of flavour. However at £4.95, the price seemed a bit steep.
A trio of samosas (£3.75) were crisp, grease-free and loaded with filling – spicy minced lamb, milder minced chicken and oozy cheese. A side salad or some chutney wouldn’t have gone amiss though.
For mains, pretty much everyone ordered the Chai special thali (£9.95). The portion size was decent but not bounteous.
A crunchy onion bhaji, shards of poppadom served with a mouth-puckering lemon pickle, fluffy rice, creamy raitha and a thin & crisp naan all put in an appearance.
And then there was the quartet of cracking curries – the pick of the bunch was a mega meaty and deep-spiced lamb curry. A milder chicken curry, dry potato curry and velvety dhal were also excellent.
Onto dessert and gulab jamun (£3.25) were sweet and syrupy but disappointingly soggy – they were accompanied by an exceptionally creamy vanilla ice cream.
Carrot halwa was much better (£3.25) – a soft, sweet and moist combination of grated carrots, whole milk, dried fruit and nuts.
Chai Street is a great addition to Cardiff’s curry cohort. With a few tweaks to the portions and prices the recommendation would be unequivocal.
Address - 153 Cowbridge Road East, Canton, Cardiff CF11 9AH
Web - http://chaistreet.com/
Telephone - 02920 22 88 88 (note, Chai Street don't take reservations)