Reviewed by Lee-Anne McCarthy
I’m no stranger to the beautiful walks and eateries of Mermaid Quay in Cardiff Bay. It’s a perfect location for a day out with the family, drinks with friends or a romantic evening with your significant other. Many a meal has been had around the bay but not once had I chosen to eat in Moksh. When I was asked to review Moksh I did ask myself why I’d never been in before when I’d eaten in so many other restaurants around the bay. Even after reflection I have no real answer I’m a lover of Indian food so that wasn’t an issue, the appearance of the restaurant is really lovely and really inviting.
Before my visit I did a little research about Moksh and was really surprised to find a multi award winning chef was in my midst. Not only was Moksh the home of a world renowned chef it was also well known as a restaurant that embraces molecular gastronomy Indian style. When I spoke with chef Gomes that evening he described himself as India’s very own Willy Wonka. I must confess I’m by no means a connoisseur of this type of cuisine but I was very excited to find out what he had to offer.
When we entered the restaurant we were greeted immediately by the staff who made us feel welcome and invited us to take our seats. We were provided with our menus and drinks very quickly and edible air freshener was used to scent the area in which we sat. It’s quite an intimate restaurant however tables are nicely spaced allowing real privacy between tables and the customer to enjoy the company of their own guest without the imposition of different parties that surround them. The restaurant offers a lovely ambience with scents of Indian spices wafting around. Decoration and lighting provides a lovely warm and relaxed atmosphere, a place to really enjoy the whole eating experience.
The new menu at the restaurant is an array of unusual and exciting combinations. It really has a wealth of choice that caters well to meat eaters like myself and vegetarians. The staff are keen to cater to its diners needs and enquired from each table whether there were any allergies that needed to be bore in mind. Such a pleasant if not unusual touch in what is clearly a very busy restaurant. This to me was the first indication that this restaurant was going to be something special.
My husband I decided to share starters so to get a real taste of all the things on offer. Upon recommendation from the chef we chose to try Einstein in India and Treasures of the Sea. With titles like these we weren’t wholly sure what to expect but certainly excited to try. Einstein in India was made up of King prawn tikka with cold whiskey, sous vide Lucknowi, lamb chop, mango candy floss, Hyderabadi mince cupcake, Chicken Galawati kebab with tikka masala spheres and disappearing Bombay mix. Treasures of the sea consisted of soft shelled crab on puffed rice, prawn wasabi cocktail with lemon air, sous vide salmon tikka with mango spheres and Malai tikka with lemon zest powder. Both dishes were like works of art. When we were served them chef came and explained each and every element. It was really interesting and added to whole experience. My particular favourite was the lamb chop with mango candy floss. Who knew such sweetness would go so beautifully with lamb. The meat just melted in your mouth. The mix of flavours and sensations on both platters was intriguing, fun and some might such a little crazy but all worked so well. Following our starter we were brought a palate cleansing sorbet. It was a perfect touch.
Prior to our main course we were also able to sample an amuse bouche of curried macaroons. My husband relished the sweet savour flavours. Chef Gomes again helped us select our main course dishes and sides. We selected Royal Lamb Warq and Salmon Carnival served with pilau rice, ham and cheese naan and chilli chocolate and honey naan. Before it was served there was some fun theatrics with what I think was dry ice scented with cinnamon it added real excitement and anticipation to the coming meal. I got to sample the Royal Lamb Warq, it was beautifully presented with edible silver leaf that was inspired by the wealth and grandeur of the royal kitchens of India. The slow cooked lamb was so tender it really did melt in your mouth. The spice mix of the dish was divine. The accompanying naan bread was ham and cheese stuffed. It was lovely to see that all of chef’s key ingredients were from the finest Welsh producers. My husband usually an avid meat eater was a little nervous about the coming fish dish. When the salmon carnival arrived it was a delight to the eye. There was salmon tikka with a moilee (spicy coconut sauce) with mango candy floss and a swirl lollipop. Yes it was a real sweet lollipop. My husband described his meal as completely world class. Although the flavour combinations were different from anything he’d ever tasted they were so well matched it made him wonder why he’d never tried them together before.
So by this stage of evening we were both rather full but not prepared to end the journey quite yet we decided to go ahead and order dessert. This time we asked chef to surprise us and that he definitely did. Bringing a tray to our table he began to construct over dessert explaining the different coolies and sprinkles he was placing on the tray. He then explained we would be enjoying death by chocolate. The name alone made me smile. My husband and I looked back and forth, the tray looked beautiful but there seemed to be a distinct lack of chocolate. Then with the single word ‘enjoy’ chef threw what can only be described as a giant chocolate ball at the tray which smashed open revealing a mass of chocolate brownies, ice cream, mango even cookies. He handed us both a spoon and left us open mouth but smiling. We tucked in. It was a real sweet treat and a massive finish to a wonderful culinary journey. At the beginning of his menu Chef Gomes says ‘I look to create a dining experience that will not easily be forgotten’. The evening at Moksh really was an unforgettable experience and one I would recommend to anyone.
What was clear from the entire evening is that Chef Stephen Gomes and his staff really cared about every customers eating experience real interest and attention was paid to ensure everyone’s needs were met. Simple gestures like chef greeting his guests and the provision of palate cleansers between courses really for me made this restaurant one that is head and shoulders above the rest in the city. If you are looking for a real eating journey and an experience that would leave you mesmerised Moksh is the place you should visit.
We give Moksh a well-deserved 5/5.
For more information, to view menus or to make a reservation visit www.moksh.co.uk.
Moksh, Ocean Building, Bute Crescent, Cardiff, CF10 5AN | 029 20498120