After trying desperately to find the pop up nacho stands near the Cardiff castle I admitted defeat and decided to try the Indian street food kitchen instead.
As soon as the door opened off of Chai St I was instantly met with all kinds of visual goodies; explosions of color, and lights, covered the whole of Indian street food.
To me, it seemed to represent the many colors of different spices and fresh ingredients, but also of the famous Indian ‘Holi’ festival, also known as the festival of color. During the festival a powder is used of many colors; it signals the win of good over evil, the end of winter, and the start of spring. People get together and celebrate by being drenched in water, and smearing the powder everywhere to make a beautiful rainbow of color. For me, the restaurant seemed to showcase that, maybe without even realizing, and I automatically felt happier and cheerful.
Even the menus screamed celebration with their many colors.
The menu was vast and I kept seeing people with canteen like trays, filled with delicious food, and I was sad that I wasn’t hungry enough to take it on.
Instead I decided to get a few dishes from the small plates/starter menu, and get as many flavors as possible for a mini feast. My first choice was Tawa fish, for £4.95, a dish made from the chettinad cuisine; a cuisine using a variety of spices, sun dried meats, and salted vegetables. Their ingredients are all fresh, and the cuisine is suppose to reflect the dry environment of the region.
The fish was a perfectly flaky white fish, that was rubbed in Indian spices, reminding me of a masala curry; I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Second I got Prawn chatpata; a dish where the prawns are butterflied giving them a spiralized look, and cooked in a delicious tomato and pepper sauce – leaving a little kick on your tastebuds that’ll be enough to start a sweat. This small dish cost £6.25.
My third and final choice of the evening was Lamb Pallipalyam for £5.75. I had no idea what it was, but I love lamb and decided to give it a go. I’m not going to lie; it didn’t look very appealing at all – almost like a slop on a plate, but it was very tasty.
My biggest grumble would be that they did not have any spice charts on their menu; indicating the level of spice in each dish. The lamb really had a kick to it, and I almost couldn’t finish it as my eyes watered and I burned from the inside out. Luckily the flavor saved it, as I usually wouldn’t be able to eat anything that spicy.
The service was also a little off, and I felt as though the waitress really didn’t want to be there. My friend ordered 3 dishes also, and she placed two on the table without mentioning the third; eventually my friend asked where the third dish was and she said it was taking longer to make. If she had said that when she set down the first two it would have been nice to not sit and wonder if they’d maybe forgot your order. But she was very polite, and I think with the amount of people eating there that night that maybe that’s why it was a little slow and the service not so personal.
Another thing was the music; it was incredibly loud and I felt as though you could hardly hear the person across from you.
Regardless, I enjoyed my Indian Kingfisher beer and was glad to see a full bar, stocked with bouquets of fresh herbs that really did make all the difference.
All in all I would very much recommend Chai St Indian street kitchen; a little taste of authentic Indian on the streets of Cardiff.
Until next time,