A few weeks ago I decamped to Bristol for work, chalking up one final budget Cardiff chow-down at Chai Street, Anand George’s Indian street-food outlet on Whitchurch Road (the last bit of town you’d associate with street-food) before doing so.
This blog kicked off 10 months ago with an entry about traipsing through Grangetown in search of the Vegetarian Food Studio’s thalis, so it seems appropriate to end its Cardiff existence by reviewing a similar meal.
If I’d have been feeling more flush I might’ve headed next door to CS’s big brother Mint & Mustard for a farewell blowout. But had I done so I’d have been deprived of a) one of the best returns I had on a tenner in South Wales and b) the chance to write it up here.
Hitting Chai Street rather than thali benchmark VFS gets you tightly-packed leathery seats, garish Bollywood meets pop art décor, and (obviously) a more aspirational postcode in which to eat your platter. These little luxuries mean you pay about a quid extra for your selection of small dishes, but getting change from £7 for a meal is still ridiculously reasonable.
And sad to say it, but it seems the best thalis in Cardiff are no longer being made west of the Taff.
Chai Street may be on the cramped side, but there’s no mystery as to why they’re cramming punters in. A creamy cow-pea dal, a dry, pungent potato dish and a rich, moist chicken one were all distinctively spiced, with curry leaves the most dominant – though not overpowering – flavour. Rice, bread, a shared side of lamb patties and cardamom-heavy masala chai rounded out a meal that’d suck me back regularly had I not so rudely skipped town.