If you read my blog regularly, then you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Moksh; the Indian fine dining restaurant in Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay. In fact, it is by far my favourite restaurant in Cardiff. I’ve reviewed Moksh twice before – once back in 2013, and again last year. Both times, I reviewed the 5-course tasting menu and the food was outstanding. So, you can just imagine how excited I was when I heard that Moksh had just launched a 10-course tasting menu, and I was invited along to try some of the dishes from it, along with some other dishes from the new à la carte menu.
What made my third visit to Moksh even more special was that, on the night I was there, the restaurant was blessed with the presence of Pat Chapman; an English food writer, broadcaster and author, best known as founder of the Curry Club, which publishes the Cobra Good Curry Guide. Pat was at Moksh to present Head Chef and Owner, Stephen Gomes, with a certificate in honour of Moksh’s recent awards for Best in Wales and Best UK Indian Chef, in the Cobra Good Curry Guide 2016.
On the evening, Stephen was also presented with a Certificate of Excellence for 2016 from the Honorary Consulate of India in Wales, adding to numerous other awards bagged by Moksh this year, including two AA Rosette Awards for Culinary Excellence, Asian Restaurant of the Year (South Wales) in the Asian Curry Awards, and Best Restaurant in Cardiff at the Cardiff Life Awards.
Throughout the evening , we sipped on not red, not white, not even rose, but blue wine in the form of Ennius Frizzante Blue Moscato, Spain. This had a delicate, slightly sweet taste and it wasn’t too dry or bitter. I would happily substitute this for my usual rosé wine on any occasion.
Our first course, or the amuse bouche, was the perfect complement for the wine – blue candy floss, served on a stick. This was soft, fluffy and sweet, but not as sickly as the pink candy floss you get at the seaside.
After we’d eaten the candy floss, we were each presented with a jewelled trinket box. When we removed the lid, we found a small plastic bag full of tiny white marshmallows, infused with cardamom. The waiter explained that we should place the entire bag into our mouths, as it was made from an edible form of plastic which would dissolve in our mouths. True to his word, the plastic bag seemed to melt on our tongues, as did the marshmallows (which had been dehydrated, to shrink them), making for a sweet, creamy taste.
The dehydrated marshmallows were followed by a mini shortbread pastry tart containing a round, soft ball filled with a sweet, milky liquid.
The first of three starter courses provoked a chorus of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from all around. ‘Sounds from the Forest of Doom’ took the form of aromatic, tender chicken makhani nestled in a thick ‘log’ of crusty, white baguette, topped with fried pea shoots and mixed herbs, resembling a log fire. The waiter then set the dish alight, and it burned with a tall, gentle flame for a minute or two, before being extinguished. This created a smoky flavour, and a crunchy texture. This was my favourite course of the evening.
Sounds from the Forest of Doom certainly set the stakes high for the remaining courses, but this was no challenge for our second starter. Served in a small teacup, ‘Hangover’ consisted of a generous layer of the freshest, juiciest tandoori prawns I’ve ever tasted, finished with a blanket of frothy, white chocolate chilli foam.
The last starter dish took the form of a pink grapefruit sorbet palate cleanser. I have tried this before at Moksh, and I was delighted to see it sitting in front of me yet again. Sweet, sour and refreshingly cold, this certainly helped to pave the way for our main courses.
There were two options available for the main course on the night (although the official tasting menu offers three options); fish with chilli caviar paella, or Frankenstein; sous vide lamb chops, beetroot blood splash, spicy sweet potato mash and rogan jus. We both opted for the lamb, and we couldn’t have been happier with our choices. Two meaty lamb chops stood vertically in a perfectly formed circular mound of spicy sweet potato mash, topped with rogan jus and fresh coriander. In a nod to Moksh’s innovative style of cuisine, the dish was accompanied by a syringe loaded with beetroot jus, of which we could inject as much, or as little as we liked, onto our plates.
Frankenstein was accompanied by a basket of freshly baked naan breads, including my favourite of Moksh’s naan bread choices – the chocolate and chilli naan. You might think chocolate doesn’t belong in naan bread, but believe me – you’re wrong. Moksh have served this up ever since I first visited the restaurant back in 2013, and even my mother (who is a big fan of traditional Indian food) was impressed, if that’s anything to go by.
Our pre-dessert course was named ‘Kevin: Bacon in the Candy Store’; a single, chorizo and naga chilli-infused Ferrero Rocher, with caramel reduction. I was a bit apprehensive about this dish, and I must admit, this was the only dish I’ve ever tried at Moksh that I haven’t actually enjoyed or been at all impressed by. I could just about detect the chorizo, but I couldn’t taste any chilli at all. The Ferrero Rocher seemed as though it had been chilled for too long, as it was quite cold and there was some condensation on the surface, and I couldn’t detect that unformidable hazelnut and praline flavour combination that Ferrero Rocher is so well-known and loved for. To be honest, I struggled to get my head around this dish.
Dubbed ‘Arabian Nights’, the dessert itself took the form of a trio, consisting of a scoop of pistachio mousse on baklava sand, curry ice cream, spinach meringue and a glittery, gold macaroon. The pistachio mousse had a pleasant mild, nutty taste, but the texture was a little too runny for my liking and I found it a little sickly. That said, the baklava sand introduced a grainy texture to the dish which helped to offset the smoothness of the mousse. Meanwhile, the curry ice cream was flavoured quite heavily with ginger and worked very well indeed, and the spinach meringue had a fragrant, slightly sweet taste. Last but not least, the real star of this dessert was the gold-dusted sweet hummus macaroon.
So, there you have it – an overview of the highlights of Moksh’s new 10-course tasting Christmas menu. For me, the courses that really stood out were Sounds from the Forest of Doom, Hangover and Frankenstein; these dishes sum up exactly what it is that I love so much about Moksh; Chef Stephen Gomes and his award-winning team put so much imagination and creativity into creating dishes that you would only think of in your wildest dreams, which are both aesthetically invigorating and gastronomically mind-blowing.
As Pat Chapman put it when he presented Moksh with their 2016 Cobra Good Curry Guide Awards, Moksh shows that Indian cuisine doesn’t always have to equate to the lager lout culture of going for a greasy curry at your local curry house after a few pints. Indian food can be classy, too. So forget your chicken tikka massala, your lamb korma, or even your tarka dahl. Get yourself down to Moksh and allow Stephen and his friendly team to re-introduce you to the world of Indian cuisine.
Click here to view Moksh’s new 10-course tasting menu, priced at £45 per person, or £65 with wine pairing.
I was invited to Moksh as a guest and our food and drink was provided complimentary; however, I was not obliged to write a positive review.