Yes, you read that correctly.
A pop-up Korean restaurant in a falafel shop.
Crwys’s Road’s Falafel Kitchen (here’s the review - it’s ace) now only serve their delicious pitta pockets at lunchtime whilst in the evenings a Korean restaurant called Secret K Garden takes over.
It’s secret by name and secret by nature, as except for a discrete sign in the window there’s no indication of Secret K Garden’s existence. In fact, someone tried to order a takeaway falafel whilst we were dining.
Despite the lack of street and web presence, Secret K Garden were three quarters full on the Thursday evening I visited.
Unlike Yakiniku and Kimchi, Cardiff’s other Korean restaurants, there are no hot plates for DIY cooking. However, the menu is extensive with an impressive range of dishes I’ve never heard of, many of which look vegetarian.
I kicked off with a super-refreshing Hite beer (£3.50).
Korean fried chicken (£9.50) saw tender chicken in crisp batter with a sticky, sweet and mildly spiced glaze. The dish would have been improved with more of the delicious glaze and slightly thinner batter.
Dolsot beef bibimbap (£8.90) was ace - a delicious combination of rice, fried egg, minced beef, beansprouts, onion, carrot, cucumber, fried egg and fiery chilli sauce in a piping hot stone dish.
The ingredients jumbled up to make a deliciously comforting bowl of food, the rice gradually crisping on the edges of the dish over time.
Tteokbokki (£7.50), fishcake with rice sticks was unlike anything I’ve eaten before, and I’m not sure I mean that in a good way. One of Secret K Garden’s most popular dishes, potently fishy slices of fishcake and hyper-chewy cylinders of bland rice stick were served in a sweet chilli sauce flecked with cabbage and carrot. Whilst the fishcake and rice sticks left me unconvinced, my dining companion thought it was pretty decent.
A trio of complimentary salads were good (aubergine & carrot, mushroom and onion, and potato and carrot) whilst an enjoyable dish of kimchi (£2.50) had its usual familiar tang, fizz, funk and kick of chilli.
For dessert, homemade green tea ice cream (£3.75) was deliciously soft and creamy but a touch light on tea flavour.
Secret Korea Garden is another interesting addition to Crwys Road’s internationally diverse dining scene. I wanted to love the place but on this showing I was a bit underwhelmed.
Address - Secret K Garden, Falafel Kitchen, 76 Crwys Rd, Cardiff CF24 4NP
Telephone - 02920228228