However, when it comes to the pan-Asian cooking of Nomad Kitchen, I’m delighted to to discover there’s an exception to the rule.
Nomad Kitchen is the new resident kitchen at Kongs Bar on St Mary’s Street. A collaboration between Keralan Karavan and Monday Club, Nomad’s Indian, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese-influenced menu makes a lot more sense on paper than it does in theory. Divided into dumplings, burgers, bowls and sides, the disparate Asian influences are unified through the use of spice.
Kong’s have seriously raised their beer game since my last visit (it’s been a while).
With a beer board featuring A-list breweries like Buxton, Amundsen, Omnipollo and Deya, we settled on a citrusy and easy drinking Wylam Hickey the Rake limonata pale ale and a Chorlton Saison Brett with a well-balanced fragrant and funky sourness.
Both sets of dumplings we ordered to start were lovely.
Japanese gyoza (£5) were the winner with their thin and crisp cases, light vegetable filling and ginger-fragranced dipping sauce.
Chicken and bamboo shoot pot sticker dumplings (£5) could have been more assertively seasoned but they were a good combination of crisp and soft textures.
A pair of burgers were both belters.
The Korean fried chicken burger (£12) combined tender meat coated in a next-level crispy panko crumb drizzled with a sticky, spicy and savoury soy-based glaze. A robust yet squidgy bun, punchy kimchi and huge spiced masala skin-on fries completed the picture.
My mate described his Bolly Sholly burger (£12) as a burger x curry Power Rangers Megazord (ok, I’m paraphrasing). But, this Indian spiced cheeseburger was deftly accomplished - the juicy beef patty and oozy American-style cheese combining well with the tang of tamarind, crunch of onion bhaji and fragrance of mint and coriander chutneys.
My Keralan Karavan curry bowl (£10) is a dish that needs no introduction. Brilliantly complex of spice, the tender chicken curry was heady with pepper, chilli and curry leaf amongst many other things my palate was too ignorant to detect. Fluffy pilau rice and rainbow poppadoms (seasoned with salt and vinegar, I think) completed the excellent dish.
We really liked Nomad Kitchen and it’s great to have another good indie in Cardiff city centre. Our friend who was lamenting the loss of Burger Theory is delighted to still have somewhere to go for his burger and craft beer fix on match days.
Address - Kongs Cardiff, Hodge House, 114-116 St Mary St, Cardiff CF10 1DY
Web - https://twitter.com/NomadKitchenCDF