How do you fancy gaining access to an exciting range of discounts at UK restaurants? Well, thanks to Go Compare, you can now do just that, and you don’t have to fork out on a membership fee for the privilege. Founded by a Welsh entrepreneur, the Newport-based comparison website has teamed up with restaurant discount scheme, Dine to reward customers with a complimentary membership (usually £49.99) when they purchase car, home, pet, van or bike insurance through GoCompare. There are lots of restaurants signed up to the Dine scheme, including trusted chains and leading independents, and deals include 2-for-1 mains, 25% off your bill (including drinks) or 50% off all food.
Yakitori No.1 Japanese restaurant in Cardiff Bay
I was delighted to discover that one of my favourite Japanese restaurants in Cardiff, Yakitori No.1, is participating in the Dine scheme. I first reviewed Yakitori No.1 back in 2014 and I’ve had a couple of memorable meals in there since, so I was very excited about going back, especially as it meant I got to catch up with my brother, who was in Cardiff for a business meeting.
Let’s talk about the menu. So, from what I can gather, not much has changed since my first visit, but as the saying goes, if something isn’t broke, why fix it? It ticks all the boxes for your typical Japanese restaurant menu, from sushi and sashimi, to yakitori and yaki soba, and so on. If you fancy something a little out of the ordinary, choose from a selection of carefully concocted dishes flame-grilled on a Japanese robata and served with onigiri (grilled sticky rice), soy, tobiko (flying fish roe) and sesame. Take the surf n’ turf, for example; a combination of scallops, beef & prawns, or the scallop yuzu, infused with lemon and crispy ginger.
Similarly, not much has changed in terms of the decor. It’s still very modern and minimal, with a choice of traditional Japanese bench-style seating or table seating.
A bottle of Takara Umeshu (£29.50) teased our tastebuds ahead of the feast that was to follow. This sweet Japanese plum wine is dangerously drinkable, with a deceptive strength that creeps up on you when you’re least expecting it.
I don’t actually like crab much, but Japanese soft shell crab is an entirely different matter. A soft shell crab (one that has recently shed its outer shell, leaving behind a very thin, soft shell that will eventually harden) is dipped in crispy tempura batter and fried to a crisp, resulting in a golden, crunchy delicacy with a tender, meaty inner centre. Yakitori’s version certainly didn’t let me down, made all the more mouth-watering by a punchy wasabi mayo. My only regret about ordering the dish was that we didn’t decide to go for one each!
We moved swiftly on to the yakitori prawn kushiyaki (£5.60), a trio of fleshy tiger prawns grilled in soy, sesame and zesty citrus ponzo, perfectly presented on black slate.
The third dish we tasted was chicken gyoza (£5.60), satisfyingly crunchy and packed with minced chicken and veg, accompanied by a homemade sweet chilli sauce.
My brother was particularly keen to try the karaage ramen (£11.50), a chicken, vegetable and miso broth with snow peas, peppers, beansprouts, red & spring onions, spinach & fried shallots, topped with Japanese-style fried chicken. I’m a big fan of both ramen and chicken karaage, although I was apprehensive about the idea of combining the two as I wondered whether the heat from the broth would cause the chicken batter to moisten and go soggy. Despite my doubts, the combination did seem to work initially, although you need to eat the chicken pretty quickly as the batter does get a little mushy after a while.
Moving on to sushi, we munched on the dragon maki rolls (£10.50); a generous portion of maki rolls stuffed with crispy prawn tempura and cucumber, dressed with fresh avocado and lashings of moreish Japanese mayo, sesame & tobiko. The next time I visit Yakitori, I’ll definitely be working my way through some of their other maki roll variations – they’re great for sharing as you get a decent quantity, although they’d be just as enjoyable on their own as a main meal.
It’s practically impossible for me to visit a Japanese restaurant without ordering tuna tataki. Sashimi grade tuna is pan-seared until the outer edges are just cooked, leaving a succulent, pink centre which has an irresistibly meaty texture. To-date, the best I’ve tried was at Ichiban Japanese restaurant in Cardiff (with branches in Roath and Canton), but I think I’ve found a new favourite at Yakitori. Here, the dish is paired with citrus ponzo, which cuts through the slightly fishy flavour of the tuna, making for a refreshingly different, yet perfectly palatable taste.
What better way to round off our Japanese banquet, than with a super-sized matcha-misu cake (£6.50)? This cake was so big, it provoked one of those moments when your jaw hangs in disbelief as you feel your tongue begin to salivate upon the mere sight of the plate, licking your lips in anticipation. A triple-layer light, fluffy matcha sponge was sandwiched together with thick, sweet matcha-infused mascarpone frosting and raspberry jam, covered in a thick layer of frosting and sprinkled with matcha powder. I believe this is a Japanese twist on a tiramisu, although it more closely resembled a Victoria sandwich.
Meanwhile, opposite me at the table my brother dug into a moist chocolate and matcha brownie (£5.50), served with a scoop of fresh vanilla ice-cream to offset the decadent, rich texture and sweetness of the brownie, preventing it from getting too sickly half-way through.
Prices at Yakitori No.1 are around average for a Japanese restaurant in Cardiff, especially considering the restaurant’s prime location in Mermaid Quay. Our total bill came to £94.60 for the two of us, but as the wine alone cost £29.50, we felt this was pretty reasonable given the amount of food we’d consumed.
As far as Japanese restaurants in Cardiff go, Yakitori No.1 is a good shout: carefully presented Japanese food freshly prepared by a well-trained team of Japanese chefs, served in classy yet comfy surroundings, at a price that won’t break the bank.
If you’re dining on a particularly low budget, Dine membership allows you to get 25% off your total food bill when you dine at Yakitori No.1 Japanese restaurant in Cardiff with up to four guests anytime from Sunday to Thursday. So, it may be worth considering purchasing through GoCompare the next time you’re shopping for car, home, pet, van or bike insurance; if the costs work out well and the policies are suited to your needs, it’s a no-brainer if you askme!
Do you like Japanese food? Tell me about your favourite restaurant in the comment box below – and don’t forget to pin this post for future reference!