2017 foodie highlights – dinner and drinks

On to the third and final instalment of my foodie look back at 2017.

I enjoyed some great meals out in Cardiff this year and here are my highlights for dinner and drinks.

Asador 44

A late entry this one, as I only ate there for the first time in December. But I’ll definitely be going again in 2018. Bistro-style Spanish dining, with an amazing meat and fish selection, along with truly delicious vegetarian options – there’s something for everyone. And the cheeseboard selection was immense! The service was great too, attentive but laid back, we had a fantastic meal. I enjoyed it so much that I didn’t even take any pics, so I borrowed the one below from their Instagram.

Cen at the Celtic Manor

Also vying for my favourite meal of 2017 was our anniversary meal at Cen.

If you’re looking for amazing Asian seafood and fantastic service, Masterchef contestant and former Hokkei Box owner Larkin Cen’s venue at the Celtic Manor is the place.

Café Citta

My birthday meal at Café Citta on Church Street is also a stand-out. Authentic wood-fired pizzas and hearty pasta dishes, topped off with the best tiramisu I’ve had, I’ve never been disappointed here.

Sushi Life

I ate at the Wellfield Road restaurant and ordered take away in 2017 and it’s definitely Cardiff’s best sushi.

The Crunch California Maki Roll is the BEST.

Thé Pot

Finally tried Thé Pot Bistro’s two courses and wine for £20 deal earlier this year. Really enjoyed the summery risotto and the lovely neighbourhood vibe of this restaurant.

Drinks

If you’re like me and your main criteria for a night out in Cardiff is ‘well-made cocktails, quiet enough to talk (I’m old) and a bit of class’ then you can’t go wrong with;

The Dead Canary

Not such a secret bar anymore, but it’s still worth navigating the bins of Barrack Lane to ring the bell and visit this speakeasy-style bar. The menu consists of Cardiff-themed and classic cocktails, or just tell the knowledgeable mixologists what you like and they’ll mix one up for you. Book a table if you’re visiting on the weekend.

Penny Royal

Next to Barker on High Street and masquerading as a bottle shop, Penny Royal serves apothecary-style cocktails with some of the most unusual ingredients I’ve seen. (Milk reduction and edible flowers anyone?) Great wines available too, if you like to stick to what you know.

Handsome Jacks

I’m pretty sure this used to be the Wine Press circa 1994, but if you remember that, put it out of your mind immediately. A classy cocktail bar hidden amongst the chaos of St Mary’s Street, escape from the hen do madness and into cocktail heaven.

If you missed parts one and two of my 2017 foodie round-up, you can read them here and here.

Follow me on Instagram to see more of the same in 2018!

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Celebrating our anniversary…..part one

I’ve briefly mentioned that last month was our wedding anniversary. Ten years we’ve been married. That makes me sound quite old…..But we were only 16 when we got married. (Not really).

Anyway, ten years seems like a good reason to celebrate and my Mum kindly offered to take the kids so we could have a night away. Hurrah! 

After a bit of searching we found a great deal at the Celtic Manor; £180 for bed, breakfast, a three-course meal for two in any of the resorts four restaurants and use of the gym, spa and pool. 

After a delicious brunch at the Early Bird, we took the short trip down the M4, arriving at the Celtic Manor late morning. 

We spent a few hours in the gym, pool, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi etc, before heading up to our room. We were staying in the Manor House, the original part of the resort, where Cen restaurant is located – where we’d booked a table for dinner. 

The room was modern and spacious with fluffy dressing gowns and slippers (the sign of a good hotel in my book) and the perfect place to chill-out before heading down to dinner.

Salt and Chilli Calamari at Cen, Celtic Manor
Cen is the Celtic Manor’s Asian restaurant, headed up by Larkin Cen, MasterChef finalist and previous owner of the much-missed Hokkei Box. 

The food was absolutely wonderful and staff were so attentive. 

I started with delicious Salt and Chilli Squid (£9) before moving on to the Miso Cured Black Cod (£26), which was the flakiest, most delicately flavoured cod I’d ever had. 

Miso cured black cod

For dessert I went for Coffee and Coconut (£7) – coconut ice cream, almond dacquoise, coffee gel and Thai basil. Yum

Dessert at Cen, coffee and coconut
The staff generously gave us a couple of complimentary glasses of bubbles as they knew it was our anniversary, which was a really lovely way to round off a delicious meal. 

Anniversary bubbles!
The final bill came to almost £100 but, because the food was included in our hotel stay, we only had to pay for our drinks. It really was a fantastic deal. 

I would definitely recommend Cen for a special occasion, the food was fantastic and staff wonderful. Thanks for a lovely night! 

We paid in full for our stay at the Celtic Manor and the hotel and Cen restaurant were not aware I’d be blogging about them. 

Review – Hokkei, Cardiff

You’ve probably heard of Hokkei box. The Asian takeaway, brainchild of MasterChef finalists Dale and Larkin, opened with lots of hype at the end of 2014.

Their plan was to reinvent the takeaway, bringing authentic asian flavours to Cardiff, using the best ingredients. You’ll find no MSG here.

I’ve wanted to try it since it opened, so a family night in with a film (The Lego Movie – it was the little man’s choice) was a good opportunity.

The menu is lovely and simple, you can order a box (consisting of a main, side, an extra and some dim sum) or choose off the menu. I love this idea, as one of my favourite things about getting a takeaway is all the additional nibbles you get on the side.

Our Hokkei boxes
Our Hokkei boxes

We went for a Genie Box; Aubergine and Tofu coconut curry, egg fried rice, edamame and veggie spring rolls (£13.25) and a Tokyo box; chicken katsu curry, steamed rice, spicy asian slaw and triple cooked crispy beef (£13.45) and added extras such as Thai Crackers (£1.50), Chunky Chips (£2.50) and some salt and pepper tofu (£4.95). There were three of us sharing this after all!

We called to order but were dissapointed to find they don’t deliver as far as Radyr. Still, we had our hearts set on it, so one pleading look at Gavin and he was in the car faster than you could say ‘spicy asian slaw’.

The journey from Crwys Road to Radyr did mean that the food was slightly tepid when he got home, but a quick blast in the microwave and it was fine.
Hokkei chicken katsu curry, rice and triple cooked crispy beef
Hokkei chicken katsu curry, rice and triple cooked crispy beef
But there was so much food! The dim sum portions were huge, particularly the salt and pepper tofu and the crispy beef, they were almost as big as the main dishes and there was more than enough for all three of us. We were left with plenty of leftovers (tip, the triple cooked crispy beef tasted even better warmed up the next day….which I guess makes it quadruple cooked).
The flavours were so good. We’re fans of places like the Crispy Duck, Ichiban and Wagamama, so the authentic flavours weren’t hugely surprising, but all their meat is responsibly sourced and you could tell that the chicken was of a very high quality and not dry at all, as katsu often can be. If your regular chinese takeaway consists of deep fried chicken balls, MSG-laden curry sauce and stale tasting prawn crackers, this could be a real eye opener and I’m convinced the quality ingredients make it a healthier option.
Hokkei Asian slaw, edamame beans and thai crackers
Hokkei Asian slaw, edamame beans and thai crackers
The toddler loved the chicken katsu curry, the edamame and the rice. He wanted to like the Thai crackers and kept asking for more, but really he found them a bit too spicy (or ‘spiky’ as he said). I didn’t even try him on the beef as it had a real chilli hit, which I love, but a bit much for the little man. The chips were good – they had a real ‘chips from the chinese’ flavour too.
The entire order came to £35.85, which I thought was reasonable for the huge amount we ordered.
I just hope they start delivering to Radyr soon!
 Hokkei
92 Crwys Road, Cardiff CF24 4NP
029 2233 1400

http://hokkei.co.uk

We paid in full for our takeaway and Hokkei did not know I’d be blogging about them.