Saturday, 30 January 2016

Sen BBQ, Canton, Cardiff Turkish restaurant review

From its unassuming exterior, Sen BBQ on Cowbridge Road East looks like it’s just a takeaway.

However, walk past the rotating spits of shawarma, the fridge of fresh looking kebabs and through the door at the back and you enter into a low-fi dining space. The focus is an electric fireplace with a half-finished pine framed thingy hanging above it (I’ve no idea).

But, I’m not here for the decor.

I’m here for the tasty Turkish kebabs.

And for the BYOB policy with no corkage. 

There’s a range of hot and cold mezze available to start which includes freshly baked pide (Turkish pizza).

On the recommendation of our super-friendly waiter we ordered the mantar tarator (£3.50), a seriously addictive mix of warm mushrooms bathed in garlic-powered yoghurt. 

A basket of excellent bread with a good chew and a note of olive oil was the perfect mop for the tasty dip. 

A plate of stuffed vine leaves (£3.50) were tasty yet unremarkable. 

Then came the main event, the BBQ full mix (£23), a gargantuan selection of all of Sen’s kebabs.

Whilst the groaning sharing platter looked like a hot mess, it tasted very good.

Standouts included lamb koftes with a big whack of chilli and mint; a lamb chop with a crisp strip of fat and buttery rice topped with shavings of chicken and lamb shawarma. Lamb and chicken shish and flame licked chicken wings were good whilst halves of quail were a little light on flesh and flavour. 

Salads were run of the mill, a red cabbage variety was the pick of the bunch. 

A couple of squeezy bottles of sauce were the only genuine let-down of the meal - fiery chilli and a mayonnaise based mint sauce seemed most likely bought in. 

We finished off the meal with a couple of complimentary glasses of sweet Turkish tea and pieces of nut-flecked Turkish delight. 

Dinner at Sen was very tasty. If you’re looking for a kebab on the other side of town to City Road then Sen is a good option. And, the BYOB policy is always a big bonus.

The Details:

Address - Sen BBQ, 146 Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff CF11 9ND
Web -
Telephone - 029 2023 2222

Sen BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 23 January 2016

The Early Bird, Cathays, Cardiff bakery and cafe review

Located in Cathays on the former site of the Paleo Chef and Falafel Cafe, the Early Bird bakery has been open for business since last November.

Backed with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, owner and baker Ceri Johnston has done a cracking job of transforming the place. It’s eclectic and modern with a slightly DIY feel - fundamentally though it feels authentic with no interior designer brought in to contrive a “look” for the place.

From the first cup of coffee you can tell there’s a lot of passion that goes into everything that’s served. Coffee beans are roasted in the bread oven - the barista James (and brother in law of the owner) has been experimenting with different roasts.

Flat whites were exemplary. Just look at that latte art. 

Early Bird bake all their own bread and cakes.

Organic sourdough is made with flour from Talgarth Mill located at the foot of the Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons. It’s tasty stuff - full of complexity, crust and chew. 

A wholemeal sourdough (£2.50) made its way home with us. 

The bread is used in most of the dishes on their reassuringly streamlined food menu which includes 9 brunch options and 3 sandwiches.

All you can eat toast (£3) and all you can drink filter coffee (£2) would certainly be a dangerous prospect. 

Mrs G ordered the Hulk Smash (£6). A couple of slices of toasted sourdough were topped with a generous mound of velvety avocado, a delightfully runny egg and a garnish of radish. Seasoning came in the form of a drizzle of smokey and fiery chipotle sauce - Mrs G ordered hers on the side in case she wussed out with the chilli.

I put the Baker’s Breakfast (£6.50) to the test. A mildly seasoned sausage, golden mushrooms, runny poached egg and a couple of slices of buttered toast were all on the nail. Homemade baked beans were particularly noteworthy (tender and not too sweet with just the right intensity of tomato) but a thick-cut rasher of bacon was slightly overdone. This was a lovely fry-up. 

We followed up the savouries with a couple of cakes - we passed up on the black cherry bakewell tart, rye brownies and chocolate brioche twists. Next time.

A cinnamon swirl (£2.50) was everything it should be - light crusted and squidgy with the warmth of cinnamon and indulgence of sticky and sweet frosting. 

Sweet potato cake (£2.50) was a new one on me. Reminiscent of a carrot cake, the root vegetable brought moisture and a gentle sweetness to the sponge. Cream cheese icing was the perfect accompaniment. 

There's so much to love about the Early Bird and I can see it becoming a regular haunt. I’ll certainly be back to work my way through the rest of those cakes.

Update 01/12/2016:

The Early Bird serve the best doughnuts in the 'Diff. Their malted chocolate brioche doughnut is a thing of beauty - the lightest and squidgiest of dough is filled with uber-smooth malt-twanged chocolate custard. Oofh.

The Details:

Address - The Early Bird, 38 Woodville Road, Cardiff CF24 4EB
Web -
Telephone - 029 2132 0520

The Early Bird Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Shackfuyu, Soho, London restaurant review

When I've got a hankering for comfort food, it isn’t Japanese cooking which normally springs to mind.

Sushi, sashimi and soba are just… well… too healthy.

However, now I’ve eaten Shackfuyu’s Japanese take on Western cooking (known as Yoshoku), I’ll be dreaming of rabbit curry doughnuts, buttermilk fried chicken with kimchee and pork cheeks with cider miso during the iciest of winter nights.

Owned by Bone Daddies (I’m a fan of their ramen bar and sibling Flesh and Buns), Shackfuyu popped up temporarily in Soho last year and stuck around for good.

A groaning bucket of gloriously sticky and spicy Korean wings (£5.90) were crisp of skin and tender of flesh with a light nuttiness from a scattering of sesame seeds. I went through half a dozen napkins in order to get the glaze off my fingers.

Prawn toast masquerading as okonomiyaki (£6.30) was a clever collision of Japanese and Chinese flavours. A textbook tranche of prawn toast was covered with the toppings traditionally associated with Japanese omelette - a sticky sweet brown sauce, creamy mayonnaise, finely diced chives, pickled ginger and crisp and fishy bonito flakes.

During lunch times, Shackfuyu also serve a menu of bobby-dazzling Hirata buns. A super squidgy bun was filled with crisp battered duck leg (£6), cleansing pickled cucumber, sweet plum sauce, creamy mayo, enoki mushrooms and a few token leaves.

Completely stuffed, I of course ordered Shackfuyu's legendary signature dessert - Kinako French toast (£6).

A golden, light and buttery slab of sweetened fried bread was topped with sweet soy-based kinako powder and joined by a mountainous swirl of matcha soft serve ice cream. This is the kind of dessert which is made for sharing - however, as I was dining on my own, I had to shoulder the burden myself.

Lunch at Shackfuyu was lush and they also take reservations - seemingly a rarity for places I want to visit in central London. Highly recommended.

The Details:

Address -
Shackfuyu, 4a Old Compton Street, London W1D 4TJ
Web -
Telephone - 0207 734 7492

Bone Daddies Shackfuyu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Riverside Cantonese, Cardiff dim sum review

I’ve been keen to check out the dim sum at Riverside Cantonese for yonks.

Having previously enjoyed the Riverside's dinner menu and heard good things about their dim sum, I booked in for a restorative lunch following the excesses of my work Christmas party.

A large pot of Jasmine tea (£2.40) provided vital rehydration.

Special cheung fun (£3.70) contained a delicious trio of fillings - plump king prawns, sweet and savoury char sui pork and spiced minced beef. However, I found the casings a little on the gloopy side. 

Char sui buns (£2.50) were enjoyably soft and fluffy and filled with more of that delicious char sui pork in a sweet barbecue sauce. 

The golden casings of a trio of fried chicken and pak choi dumplings (£2.60) were the best part of the dish - the filling itself was a tad chewy. 

Har gau (£2.60) were good, the crystal dumpling cases with a generous quantity of prawns.

Siu Mai (£2.60) weren’t the prettiest versions I’ve seen and the minced pork and prawn filling was a touch bland. 

Siu lung bao (£2.50) meanwhile had none of the soup filling for which they're known. 

Dim Sum at Riverside Cantonese was enjoyable but I wasn’t blown away. Perhaps I ordered badly or we caught the kitchen on an off day on a dreary Tuesday lunchtime. 

However, at a tenner a head including drinks, it’s hard to question the value for money.

Address - Riverside Cantonese, 44 Tudor Street, Riverside, Cardiff , CF11 6AH
Telephone - 029 2037 2163
Web -

Riverside Cantonese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Thai Asian Delish, Cardiff Central Market review

Cardiff Central Market is ready for a culinary upgrade.

Just a few new street food stalls would draw in the punters who otherwise give this beautiful Victorian building a miss.

Take the Grainger Market in Newcastle where stalls now sell Chinese dumplings, Turkish mezze and freshly cooked seafood or St Nick's Market in Bristol where Grillstock ply their trade.

With JT Morgan butchers and Ashton’s fishmongers in the building, there’s cracking produce right on the doorstep. And let's not forget Cardiff Bakestones' tidy Welsh cakes for dessert too.

With the recent opening of Thai Asian Delish, there’s a sign that things are on the up.

Their great value food is delicious and the ladies who run the stall are super friendly.

However, they need to sort out their ordering system. On a busy weekday lunch, I was served ahead of three people who ordered before me, my order was checked three times and someone asked for a refund because their wait was so long.

If these service issues are resolved then Thai Asian Delish is the kind of place which would make Cardiff Central Market a destination.

Massaman curry (£4.90) was packed with tender chicken and soft potatoes in a richly spiced peanut and coconut sauce. It was accompanied by fluffy rice. 

Chicken Pad Thai (£4.90) was a great version of its type - loaded with meat, the firm noodles were bathed in a tangy tamarind based sauce and topped with crunchy peanuts. 

Green papaya salad (£4.90) meanwhile was everything it should be - citrusy, sweet and fiery hot with the savoury hit of fish sauce.

However, an accompaniment of bland and stodgy sticky rice and a couple of slices of cucumber was surplus to requirements. 

On a separate visit, I perched on one of their stools and ordered a Penang chicken curry with rice (£5.60). A well spiced curry, it contained loads of chicken and coconut cream.

Lunch at Thai Asian Delish was delish. I'd definitely recommend a visit - for now just make sure you're not in a rush. 

The Details:

Address - Thai Asian Delish, Cardiff Central Market, Saint Mary Street, Cardiff CF10 1AU