Nestled discreetly in a unit at the south-east corner of Pontypridd market, Janet’s Authentic Northern Chinese is quickly running out of wall space on which to hang its well-deserved culinary awards. In this year alone, Janet Wei’s brand of Korean and Chinese cuisine has made her grand champion of the British Street Food Award and overall winner of the Wales Street Food Award, and the resultant popularity has diners attending from around the country.
Wei herself is an extremely friendly, welcoming, and accommodating business owner. Whether a result of the restaurant’s increasing popularity or simply the fact that everything is made fresh, on the day of our visit a number of menu items were unavailable by 2pm, including the vegetarian-friendly gyoza, tofu fried noodles and – after we ate the last of them – spring rolls, so the chef offered instead to prepare traditional Korean doenjang jjigae with tofu. This turned out to be a blessing, as the iconic soybean paste stew was made beautifully; earthy and hot without being overwhelmed by the mushrooms, the tofu absorbed the stew easily and made for flavourful eating.
Staff kindly took care to double-check the appropriateness of the dish’s egg content for our table and were otherwise exceptionally friendly and diligent. For carnivores, this stew also makes a perfect accompaniment to the Korean beef, chicken and pork dishes on offer.
Note that Janet’s is currently a cash-only business: a free-withdrawal cash machine is available just outside the market property. The restaurant is also, by virtue of its location, a very small venue; prospective customers should make sure to ring up and book a spot, as the magnificent food easily justifies the train, bus, or car ride to Ponty.
Market Street, Pontypridd. Info: 07825 463685 / here
words JOHN MCLOUGHLIN
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