Around the world in 9 kitchens – Restaurant review: Fed, Cardiff

Last month, new buffet restaurant Fed (Food Exploration Destination) opened in Cardiff offering diners the opportunity to sample global cuisine from 9 live kitchens, all under one roof. The kitchens include: Indian, Chinese, Tex-Mex, Italian, Japanese, Salad and Sushi, Grill, Carvery and Desserts.


Located next to Cineworld and opposite the new Admiral insurance headquarters, Fed covers 13,000 square feet and occupies two floors, the second storey featuring a mezzanine dining area for private or corporate hire.

However, the concept of a restaurant serving several different cuisines is not exactly a new one for Cardiff. Red Hot World Buffet launched in Hill Street, Cardiff (where the old St David’s Centre connects with the new St David’s 2) back in 2011 and there are lots of similarities between the two restaurants – both are based across two storeys and serve buffet-style food spanning different cuisines, in addition to offering several live cooking stations.

After noticing these similarities, I asked whether there was a connection between Fed and Red Hot, and it turns out that the founders of Fed, brothers Sachin and Shailesh (Sal) Bajpai, used to belong to the management team at Red Hot.

I’m not particularly fond of Red Hot for a number of reasons, namely quality of food, range of dishes available (tend to be quite basic and stereotypical) and freshness of buffet dishes. So, I was slightly dubious about attending Fed to begin with, but my experience left me feeling pleasantly surprised.

Upon arrival, my guest and I were greeted and escorted to a table that had been reserved for us in the middle of the restaurant. The waitress showed us the drinks menus and asked if we’d been here before, before proceeding to explain the layout of Fed’s different kitchens.

Drinks

To drink, we really liked the look of Fed’s cocktails and at just £4.99 each, they offered great value for money.

I tried out a Long Island iced tea, which was served in a large goblet-style glass with ice cubes and a wedge of lime. It was flavoursome and refreshing, although the rum was a little too strong.

 
The Purple Rain cocktail was a real show-stopper. The grenadine had turned the drink a mystical shade of mauve and the strawberry made for a vibrant finishing touch. It tasted just as good as it looked!
 

Here’s what I thought of Fed’s 9 live kitchens:

Grill

Fed’s Grill kitchen gives diners the opportunity to select the type of meat they want to eat, the cut they prefer and the marinade they would like the most. The daily specials available when we visited were sirloin steak, chicken supreme, lamb steak, chicken satay, lamb chops and handmade beef burgers.

If you want to you can watch your food being flame grilled in the open plan kitchen, or alternatively just give the chef your table number and the food will be brought over to your table.

We didn’t get round to trying out anything fresh from the grill because we ended up getting so full up off all of the other food, but we chose a few buffet items from the grill for our starters.

The lemon and pepper chicken was delicious – chicken thighs with a crispy coating infused with pepper and a hint of lemon, in a light spicy sauce.

 

 

We also loved the peri peri chicken wings, which were surprisingly spicy (much to my delight!) and were served in a rich sauce containing sliced green, red and yellow peppers. Judging by how many of these were left, they were pretty popular with other diners too. However, the serving dishes were constantly being replenished by Fed’s staff and nothing ever seemed to run too low before being topped up again.

To accompany all that chicken we tried some chargrilled corn on the cobs, which tasted both fresh and flavoursome.

Carvery

The carvery consisted of a large, well-cooked joint of beef with carrots, sprouts, roast potatoes (made using new potatoes in their skins) and gravy. Although, how anyone can entertain the idea of eating a carvery meal at a buffet that features 9 kitchens is beyond me, but each to their own!

 

Chinese


From here we moved on to the Chinese kitchen, which sits next to the Grill station.

We began with some mini vegetable spring rolls. The batter was nice and crispy, but we couldn’t help but noticing that they tasted a little strange, so we didn’t eat too many of these.



There were plenty of prawn crackers to go round, although I gave these a miss as I’m not a fan.

 
The BBQ pork spare ribs tasted great and they’d been cooked so well that the meat simply fell away from the bone. My only wish was that there was more of it on each rib.
 
 
I went to reach for some of these thinking they were onion rings, but it was actually battered calamari. Not for me!
 

 
The crispy chicken wings, on the other hand, seemed like they’d been made with me in mind. The deep golden brown batter was very moreish and there was plenty of chicken on each wing. 
 
 
To accompany these starter-type dishes, the Chinese kitchen featured a selection of dips and sauces including sweet chilli, hoisin, chilli vinegar and sarachi (no idea what this one consists of!)
 
 
Where main dishes were concerned the Chinese kitchen served the obligatory sweet and sour chicken, although it was served in bite-sized chunks and covered in a crispy yet slightly chewy batter, rather than in round balls with a thick soft batter, as is often the case with this dish. The sweet and sour sauce was fairly good, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t usually rate it. It wasn’t too sweet or too sour – the balance was just right – and the peppers and onions were fresh and crunchy. 
 
 
The beef in black bean sauce was a good choice. The sauce was rich and tasty, the beef was mostly tender and the veg was fresh.
 
 
I didn’t get round to trying this for myself, but I think it was Chinese chicken.
 
 
All of the Chinese dishes can be served with an option of egg fried rice with vegetables…
 
 
…or egg noodles with beansprouts and green peppers.
 

Indian


The Indian kitchen offered a range of popular Indian dishes, in addition to some lesser known options.

There were a number of starters available, including these crispy onion bhajis. These were nice, and their small size meant that they weren’t too filling for a buffet.



Same goes for these vegetable pakoras. I liked the batter – it was crispier than it usually is on a vegetable pakora.



The vegetable samosas had a flavoursome filling but the pastry was a little thick for my liking, although I believe this is the more authentic way of preparing samosas, as opposed to using the thin, crispy pastry characteristic of shop or takeaway-bought samosas in the UK.

 
No Indian meal would be complete without naan bread, and Fed served either plain or garlic. I tried some of the garlic naan and it tasted good, not too garlicky. It was a little on the thin side though, and some pieces were slightly burnt and crispy. 
 
 
There were a good variety of dips available including chilli sauce, raita, mango chutney and lime chutney.
 
 
We were beginning to get rather full by this point, so we decided to move on to our main courses. 
 
The Indian food had been pretty good so far, so we stuck with that and tucked into some freshly made tikka chicken. The serving dish had just been refilled so I was lucky enough to get first dibs. Cooked on a skewer in a tandoori oven, the chicken was well flavoured, succulent and tender. I would’ve gone back for more of this, but I wanted to leave room for all of the other dishes I had yet to try.

 



Fed’s chicken jalfrezi was one of the best I’ve ever tasted. It was fairly hot and full of green chillies, as a jalfrezi should be. I hate it when I order a jalfrezi in a restaurant and it’s not even spicy enough to make my mouth burn. This was just right – a strong heat, but not so bad to have you reaching for a glass of milk. The chicken was flavoured with tikka and it was very tender – it may well have been cooked in the tandoori oven.

 
I think this was a lamb dhansak. I didn’t try it myself because the chickpeas looked rather filling, but it looked quite tasty.
 
 
Lesser known Indian dishes, including vegetarian options, were also available. The mushroom mutter paneer was rather appealing, a traditional side dish including Indian paneer cheese, peas, mushrooms and green chillies, alongside an array of spices and herbs. 
 



Japanese


The Japanese kitchen allowed diners to pick their own ingredients from a selection of onions, peppers, baby corn, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, noodles (both egg and udon) and have them stir-fried in front of them by the chef.



You could also opt to include seafood, such as mussels or baby squid.



I watched the chef cook some mussels for another guest, but I didn’t fancy trying any for myself. I’m a bit squeamish about seafood.



Salad and sushi 


Japanese cuisine also featured in the salad and sushi kitchen.

The sushi selection included maki rolls, sashimi and nigiri. I like sushi but didn’t try any at Fed because I was feeling pretty stuffed by the time we reached this kitchen, and the rice can be surprisingly filling!

The salad selection wasn’t huge, but the choices that Fed offer are certainly unique and anything but boring, with one variety featuring beetroot, orange and pickled onions.

 
These little bowls were filled with a tomato and bocconcini salad – a mixture of fresh tomatoes, basil, olive oil, garlic and small balls of mozzarella cheese. It was just as good as it sounds, although I was glad Fed only serve this in mini portions because it could be quite rich otherwise. 
 

Italian

Personally, I was most impressed by the Italian kitchen because this seemed to offer more live cooking ‘from scratch’ than any of Fed’s other kitchens.

The Italian kitchen tempted diners with several different kinds of pizza, each freshly baked in an authentic pizza oven. The toppings included a standard margharita with plenty of cheese…

…and a Hawaiian pizza laden with pineapple and sliced ham, amongst others.

For me though, the real ‘wow’ factor about the Italian kitchen was the option to create your very own pasta dish from a selection of fresh veg, meat, seafood, herbs and pasta.

You can then watch as the chef cooks your pasta to perfection.

 

Tex-mex


The Tex-mex kitchen seemed fairly small in comparison to some of Fed’s other kitchens.

It had baskets full of nachos…

… and an impressive range of toppings including sour cream, tomato salsa, iceberg lettuce, pica de galo, jalapenos and grated cheese. If I wasn’t already fit to burst, I would’ve eaten a mountain of nachos smothered in every topping going. The absence of guacamole was a bit disappointing, though.

Where main courses were concerned, the Tex-mex kitchen offered several popular Mexican classics like chicken fajitas and chilli con carne. These looked fresh and appetising, but after all the Indian food I’d eaten I didn’t fancy anything spicy – and I wanted to leave room for dessert!

Desserts


Fed’s focus on international cuisine flowed through into the Desserts kitchen in dishes such as gulab jamun, a popular Indian dessert of milk dumplings soaked in sugar syrup.



The creme brulee was perfect, with a hard, crunchy surface and a smooth, creamy centre. In an innovative twist on this firm French favourite, Fed added lemon grass to the dish. Upon first impressions I didn’t think this would work, but it really did!

 
From top to bottom, this cabinet contained wild berry vanilla panacotta (a nod to Italy), baked passion fruit mousse (highly recommended), hazelnut parfait and an assortment of jelly. 
 
 
Another cabinet contained white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake (amazing!), chocolate peanut bars (tasty, yet sickly – perhaps Fed should serve these cut in half), pinacolada gateaux (too sweet for me) and strawberry roulade. 
 
 
The ice cream selection included raspberry ripple, strawberry and chocolate, although I think more varieties are available in the evening. 
 
 
The star of the show was this giant chocolate fountain, which was flowing with both milk and white chocolate. I enjoyed sliding marshmallows onto a skewer and twirling them around in the fountain until it was covered with chocolate – they were sinfully delicious!
 
 
If you’re looking for a lighter dessert after filling up food or indulging in one too many sweet treats, Fed’s fruit selection consists of fresh mango, pineapple and oranges.

By the time we left Fed, we felt fit to burst. I was fairly impressed by the quality and range of different cuisines and dishes available, and the freshness of the food. With so much food to get through, it would be a good idea to start with the live cooking stations (like the Grill, Italian and Japanese kitchens) to ensure you get to sample these before you become too full (this is where I went wrong!)

From Monday to Saturday, lunch is served from 12pm – 4pm. Dinner is served from 5pm – 10pm on Monday to Thursday and 5pm – 11pm on Friday and Saturday. On Sundays, the restaurant opens from 12pm – 9.30pm.

Lunch costs £8.99 from Monday to Thursday and £9.99 on Friday and Saturday, whereas dinner costs £13.99 from Monday to Thursday and £14.99 on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, the cost is £12.99.

If you’re thinking of going to get ‘Fed’, it’s probably worth placing a booking online using the website link below – it was pretty packed by the time we left! Perhaps you’ve already tried it out – if so, what did you think of it and what was your favourite kitchen?

Fed
Mary Ann Street
Cardiff
CF10 2EN
(029) 2034 1501
www.wearefed.co.uk

I was invited to Fed as a guest and our food and drinks were provided complimentary. However, I was not obliged to write a positive review. 

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2 Comments

  1. September 12, 2015 / 10:36 am

    My son would love this and he is moving just around the corner in halls of residence. It looks nicer than the Red Hot Buffet!

    • September 12, 2015 / 12:24 pm

      Definitely, Red Hot World Buffet is one of my most disliked restaurants in Cardiff!

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