Saturday, November 16, 2013

Yakitori #1, Cardiff

Having finally become 'The Pilgrims' at our wedding last weekend but unable to take time off during the week, we had planned to go away on a mini-moon this weekend. Apparently though, trying to book on Friday to arrive on Saturday in one of the most popular tourist areas in the UK doesn't cut it, who knew? So we decided to play tourist in our own town and visit a few places we've been hankering to go in Cardiff. An excellent meal at Yakitori #1 tonight prompted us to finally start writing the food blog we've been chatting about for ages - that coupled with the fact we now share a surname that allows for a play on words. Everyone loves a good play on words. On to the review... 

Occupying a unit at Mermaid Quay in Cardiff Bay, independent Japanese restaurant Yakitori #1 has already earned a bit of a good reputation (currently top 10 restaurants in Cardiff on tripadvisor) in spite of only being open a few months. The interior is crisp and minimal, with large tables and benches occupying the middle of the restaurant and smaller tables around the outside, with an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs prepare your food. 

A few minutes after taking our seats we got chatting to a man who didn't introduce himself by name, but had the air of the owner of the establishment about him. He spoke to us about the menu and gave some of his recommendations, as well as telling us that some things will be changing slightly with the introduction of a new menu next week (he was so keen he even got up his paper mock-up to show us). There's so much more to this place than raw fish (though the raw fish, supplied by channel fisheries was excellent, but I'm getting ahead of myself), with a range of cooked japanese goodies from the grill, noodle/rice dishes and salads sitting alongside the choice of sushi and sashimi. We decided to skip the mains for tonight (though a fixed price menu of £15.95 for a main and starter/side will most definitely be on the radar for our next visit) and ordered a bunch of small plates to share.  

Tempura prawn maki (£8.50) was Mr P's favourite - maki rolls generously filled with tempura prawn and cucumber and topped with avocado and marie rose sauce. The tempura batter was a nice contrast with the soft prawn and the sushi rice was also worth a mention for being deliciously sticky and not falling apart even with the obligatory soy sauce dunking. 

Teryaki salmon (£8.95) was one of the highlights for me - exactly as teryaki salmon should be with crispy skin, just cooked flesh and a slightly sticky glaze. 

Tuna nigiri (£4.95) and scallops with soy, sesame and crispy ginger (pictured bottom left, £7.50) were both excellent. 

With the only slight hitch of the night, chicken gyoza (£5.60) and chicken yakitori (£6.20) arrived a little later than the rest of our food but this gave us time to wolf down the other offerings. The crisp outside of the dumplings gave way to a well-seasoned filling and the yakitori was juicy with great flavour. 

After all this, the owner came back with an offering of the new chicken katsu hand rolls that will be added to the menu from next week, which we sadly gobbled without time for a picture. Plenty of crispy nori, more of that sticky rice, panko covered chicken breast and punchy marie rose sauce (will be priced around £4.50) would make an excellent snack or light lunch.

The service at Yakitori #1 was efficient, friendly and enthusiastic (yes, three adjectives) and we'll definitely be back for more. 

Quick version:
  • Food - Delicious and excellent quality (which is important if you're going to be eating raw fish!)
  • Value for Money - It's not cheap but the quality means we think it represents good value for money 
  • Service - Excellent, the staff were more than happy to help/chat about the different aspects of the menu and it was easy to get their attention 
  • Atmosphere - A little quiet when we arrived (we're early eaters) but music playing at an acceptable volume and more buzz as the evening went on 
  • Overall rating - 4.5 stars

Yakitori #1 - Mermaid Quay Cardiff02920 495050; website

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