Moksh - Divine Indian Cuisine
Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff. CF10 5AN
029 2049 8120
Chef Patron, Stephen James Gomes launched his new menu at the eclectically furnished, waterside restaurant - Moksh - Divine Indian Cuisine.
Cardiff Bay, which is only a few moments from the city centre, has been extensively redeveloped and is now a chic and cosmopolitan meeting place for the fashion conscious, who wish to eat, drink and be entertained. We were priviledged to be staying at the Bay's, stylish St David's Hotel and Spa, a luxury hotel, offering contemporary en-suit rooms with breath taking views, from private balconies, across the freshwater lake. Lucky yatchsmen and women enjoyed sailing, while we enjoyed the many swans and ducks nesting in the long grasses. Moksh - Divine Indian Cuisine - was a short walk away, which also enabled us to work up an appetite for the dishes that we knew Stephen was creating for us that night.
The restaurant is beautifully decorated with 'graffiti' art on the walls and ceiling, in bright and deep colours, including brown, orange and cream with dark and polished natural wood. The original Pajoda and Buddha masterpieces are on a wall in the private dining room. There is also a huge sleeping Buddha, which reminded me of my travels in Sri Lanka, painted onto the ceiling of the main dining room - very dramatic.
The restaurant was busy, local dignatories and journalists occupied all the tables and the noise level was quite high! Clearly a good sign - everyone was having a wonderful time. Pat Chapman and Dominique, were comfortably seated at a table for four. Our pretty waitress, Neelam, from Nepal, poured red wine generously into sparkling glasses, while Moksh Director and business partner Jay Miah, chatted to Pat about the concept of the restaurant.
We were served pre-starters - a generous basket of Spicy Popadom Quarters, Mini Plain Popadoms, Ganthia Sticks and Rice Flour Crackers - in different colours, shapes and sizes. Also, a shot glass of, what I can only describe as crispy deep-fried bread 'streamers.' All were served with style and with three relishes: 'Mint Raitha,' cool and creamy; 'Imli,' combined with slivers of onion and red chilli and, 'Cubed Mango Chutney.' All were delicious and complimented each other perfectly.
Stephen had decided to showcase his new menu, by treating us all to a tasting menu, which meant that many dishes were to be served. Starters contained four choices, and within each choice there were several different dishes - are you still with me? Dominique was immediately drawn to the, 'Moksh Delight,' £6.00. 'Chocolate and Orange Chicken Tikka,' - a generous and moist chunk of chicken breast, with a wonderful hint of plain chocolate and citrus orange, 'Hyderbadi Mince and Potato with Chilli Beetroot Foam,' - this was like a cute little 'cottage pie,' and, 'Balachao Dusted Pork Belly on Tomato Charasa and Edible Rice Paper,' - tender, quality pork cubes, in a rich savoury sauce, and yes! edible rice paper!
Pat decided on, 'Treasures of the Sea,' £7.00. 'Soft Shelled Crabs on Puffed Rice,' Pat usually eats these little creatures in Thailand, so this was a real treat for him - scrumptious! 'Prawn Cocktail with Lemon Cloud,' a delicately spiced prawn cocktail, and, 'Salmon Tikka with Salmon and Mango Caviar,' Pat's absolute favourite, as the photo above shows. Pat told me that the salmon was cooked to perfection, it dissolved in the mouth!
Then came a totally unexpected mid-course - a plate of Stephens, 'Welsh Beef Tamarina @ cloud 9,' £6.00. 'Juliennes of beef in tamarind and black pepper sauce, served with sugar cloud and Baby Nan,' beautifully presented in its own little lidded, circular, metal box, reminiscent of the Daba lunch boxes of Bombay. The beef had been slow cooked, so was incredibly tender and had absorbed the flavours of the aromatic sauce. The, 'sugar cloud,' was infact candy floss - something that I have always loved since a child when visiting the seaside, and something, now as an adult, I still indulge in, when I go to our towns summer fayre.
After a short rest, all diners were served a little palate cleanser of, 'Grapefruit Sorbet,' which topped a short-crust pastry cup. It was deliciously bitter, as this citrus fruit should be, with smooth ice crystals, and no food colouring - wonderful!
Main course dishes were delivered via a trolley, as no waiter or waitress could have possibly lifted a tray loaded with that amount of food. Our waiters for the evening, Taraq and Hasan, who's families come from Sylhet, served our main course dishes, which consisted of, 'Punjabi Butter Chicken,' £12.00. 'A favourite among Indians all over the world, Chicken Tikka in rich tomato, cream and butter finished with fenugreek. Served with cinnamon nitro essence,' and, 'Ratnagiri Mango Lamb, £13.00. 'Ratnagiri (India) famously known for mangoes and spices. Lamb and spherification of mangoes cooked in coconut milk, mango pulp, spices and chilli makes this dish perfectly balanced, a combination of sweet and spicy.' and, 'Drunken Aatish-E-King Prawns,' £18.00. 'Saffron and garlic flavoured king prawns cooked in the Tandoor. Served with raspberry foam raita.' As you can witness, from my photographs below, all dishes were stunningly served. The chicken and lamb dishes in kilner jars, and the prawns hanging on skewers from a custom-made stand.
Head waiter, Sahu, who comes from Jaipur, has worked in Bombay's Taj President, finished off the prawns, by flambéing at our table - all very impressive.
Photo Above Left: Pat helps himself to, 'Tarka Dal,' £5.00. 'A classic lentil dish, tempered with garlic, onions and garnished with fresh coriander.' Photo Above Right: Dominique bites into a slice of, 'Chilli Chocolate and Honey Naan,' £3.00. I know what you are all thinking, but it worked so very well, the bread was rolled out quite thinly, then tandoor cooked with just a suggestion of good quality plain chocolate - delicious!
Stephen finished off the evening with his four dessert, 'Death by Chocolate.' This, perhaps, suggests that Hercule Poirot or Inspector Frost would be visiting the following morning. However, they would have been dissapointed, because not a shread of evidence was left for forensics to examine. The plate consisted of a deep-fried Chocolate Samosa, a Chocolate filled with rich Ganaché and a slice of White Chocolate Mousse. A wonderful end to a wonderful evening with amazing food.
Photo Above Left: 'Well? how did I do?,' asks Stephen Gomes, to Pat Chapman. Photo Above Right: Pat Chapman tells Stephen that he has exceeded all expectations - and congratulates him! I think Stephen is a little bit pleased.
Photo Above: Pat Chapman presents Stephen Gomes, with his, 'Cobra Good Curry Guide Best Chef Certificate.'
Moksh - Divine Indian Cuisine
Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay. CF10 5AN
029 2049 8120