Seeing as this is the fourth time I’ve reviewed Moksh, this fine dining Indian restaurant based in Cardiff Bay needs no introduction. However, if you’ve never heard of this restaurant before (and if not, why?!), check out my three previous reviews of Moksh.
Like the earlier tasting menus I’ve had the pleasure of sampling, Moksh’s latest tasting menu (launched at the beginning of this year) is brimming with cleverly thought up, creative Indian dishes with catchy names to match. With 12 dishes to taste in total, it was a good job I was hungry.
1. Lactose Tolerant
The first course was ‘Lactose Tolerant’, otherwise known as mango lassi ravioli. What looked like a small egg yolk lay nestled on a white spoon. We popped the whole thing into our mouths in one go as instructed by our waiter, and it exploded and released a shot of mellow, fruity mango lassi. It was an unusual sensation, but it tasted great.
2. Chit Chat
This was the only course on Moksh’s tasting menu that beared even a slight resemblance to a dish you might expect to find being served at a traditional curry house; a simple combination of plain and spicy poppadoms paired with ‘nitro-boosted’ thick, creamy mango dip.
3. Dragon’s Breath
The third course was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before at Moksh. For the first time ever (as far back as I can recall, anyway), Chef Stephen Gomes and his team are experimenting with traditional Welsh cuisine. It doesn’t get much more Welsh than a traditional lamb cawl; widely regarded as the national dish of Wales. As it’s name implies, Moksh’s version of cawl had a fiery, peppery flavour and the lamb was marinated in korma curry. In an added twist, the golden broth was topped with leek-infused meringue, ignited at the table to further reinforce this dish’s fiery nature.
4. Light’s On
Light’s On was another exciting addition to the tasting menu at Moksh. A vibrant trio of traditional Indian street foods including crispy pakora, corn tiki (a tasty take on aloo tiki) and chip shop curry-flavoured chaat were served on Welsh slate, illuminated by a miniature desk lamp.
5. Emperor’s Notepad
The next starter dish was just as inventive. A wooden clipboard was topped with edible notepaper, dusted with what appeared to be red and green chilli powders. The centrepiece was a carbon-infused, dehydrated onion bhaji topped with a piquant tamarind sorbet and red amaranth leaves. In contrast to the crispy, crunchy texture of a traditional onion bhaji this had a soft, sponge-like texture reminiscent of suet pastry, and a tangy, onion flavour.
6. Year of the Rooster
Otherwise known as ‘Chicken 65’ because of the 65 different spices used to concoct this dish, Year of the Rooster featured a small cardboard take-out style carton (the kind you get when you order Chinese noodles) packed with honey-glazed, sweet and sour xanthan-coated chicken with chilli pearls, served with chopsticks. This was a bit like popcorn chicken but the batter was thicker and chewier, and the chicken was served in a sauce that was sweet, sour and spicy all at the same time. Well, I wouldn’t expect any less from a dish containing 65 spices!
Moksh’s take on a hangover was much more pleasant than the kind I am used to experiencing. As our waiter brought this dish to our table, he lifted the liquid-nitrogen filled glass that covered it, causing a white fog to billow up and out from the dish.
Once the fog had cleared, we discovered tandoori king prawns sat in blue Curaçao moilee topped with wipsy, white chocolate chilli foam and red amaranth leaves. Whisky wood smoke gave the dish an irresistible, earthy flavour which left us craving more, although as we were beginning to feel full and still hadn’t reached our main course, it was probably for the best that the portion wasn’t any bigger than it was.
8. Ice Age
This has been a staple item on Moksh’s tasting menu for a number of years, and it never gets old. A zesty, sweet pink grapefruit sorbet served to cleanse our palates in preparation for our main courses.
9. (a) a.d.i.d.a.s – All Day I Dream About Spherification
For our main course, we had a choice of chicken, lamb or salmon. I opted for the chicken, consisting of an overnight-marinated tandoori chicken breast with chilli Cantonese-inspired sauce on a bed of fluffy basmati rice, topped with ketchup, tomato, bubblegum and mango spherification.
Once at the table, the waiter poured a broth-like curry sauce over the dish. I was very fond of this dish; the chicken was delicately flavoured and my knife practically slid through it, whilst I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the different flavours of the spherification pearls actually worked pretty well together. This was served alongside freshly baked garlic and plain naan bread. However, I wasn’t able to eat anywhere near all of this dish as I was conscious that we still had three dishes to follow, so I would welcome a reduction in portion size if I was to order this again.
9. (a) Shepherd’s Chai
Opposite from me at the table, my guest tucked into a teacup full of minced spiced lamb with spiced carrots, coriander, potato mash and coriander foam – like an Indian take on a traditional Shepherd’s Pie – also paired with naan bread. The Shepherd’s Chai had a balanced heat, guaranteed to warm you up without setting your mouth on fire, and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it myself on my next visit to Moksh.
10. Kevin (Bacon in the Candy Store)
I was apprehensive about the next dish because when I first tried it on my last visit to Moksh in November of last year, I wasn’t very keen on it (as mentioned in my most recent review). ‘Kevin’ (Bacon in the Candy Store) is a chorizo-infused Ferrero Rocher, served with a toothsome caramel reduction. The last time I tried it, I couldn’t taste the chorizo (or the naga chilli, which I believe has now been removed this dish) and there was a layer of condensation on the Ferrero Rocher. This time, the Ferrero Rocher had a nuttier, brittle coating as opposed to a smooth surface and the smoky, slightly spicy taste of the chorizo was definitely there, yet it didn’t overpower the unmistakable hazelnut flavour of the Ferrero Rocher.
Dessert was a mesmerizing medley of smooth pistachio mousse, ginger-infused curry ice cream, subtly-flavoured date meringue and gold-dusted sweet hummus macaroon, dusted with edible sand and finished with an intricately decorated genie lamp that spouted smoke in the form of liquid nitrogen.
I tried this dessert when I reviewed Moksh’s tasting menu last year and it was just as good this time around as it was back then, but the genie’s lamp really was the cherry on the cake, providing a magical ending to the tasting menu.
Diolch (‘Thank You’ in Welsh)
12. Tea/coffee and Welsh cakes
The finale to the Moksh tasting menu takes the form of tea or coffee, served with homemade cinnamon Welsh cakes. However, whenever I get to the end of the tasting menu, I never have any room left for it. Unfortunately, this occasion was no different – but the table next to us managed to fit in a freshly brewed cup of aromatic coffee served with dainty, sugar-dusted Welsh cakes.
Yet again, I was blown away by Moksh’s tasting menu. It just seems to get better and better. At £50 per head of £70 with wine pairing, it costs more than what you’d spend on your typical meal out at a decent restaurant in Cardiff, but it’s not bad value for money for 12 courses – around Veggie menu also availableat £45 per head, normal menu is £50 per person or £70 with wine pairing. More than you’d spend on your typical meal out, but not bad value for money for 12 courses – less than £5 per course or less than £6 with wine pairing, in fact. A vegetarian option is also available, priced at £45 per head.
Of all 12 dishes, my resounding favourite was Dragon’s Breath and, without giving too much away, I am very much looking forward to seeing Stephen Gomes rustle up more Welsh food in the not-so-distant future…
I was invited to Moksh as a guest and our food and drink was provided complimentary, but I was not obliged to write a review my experience.