Think of Asian food and you’re quite likely picturing a pre- or post-pub feast with friends, or a Saturday night takeaway for which you overorder and spend the rest of the evening prostrate on the sofa groaning and barely able to move. But times are changing. Restaurants like Mattancherry (formerly Chai Street) are focusing on fare that is both lighter and a little more sophisticated, while at the opposite end of Cowbridge Road East, Maasi’s is taking things a step further in catering only for a daytime day-off, working-from-home or weekend crowd.
The Victoria Park area is not short on curry houses, but Maasi’s serves up something different – breakfast, perhaps most notably, but also a menu that draws on tried-and-tested family recipes to offer a flavour of Pakistani cuisine. They’ve taken up residency in St Luke’s Church Hall, premises previously home to the Park View Café, and while our meal isn’t quite a religious experience, it’s certainly not the devil’s work either.
The lunchtime options aren’t extensive, which – as is so often the case – proves to be a good sign. They evidently know what they do and do it well. Half of our party plump for the samosa chaat, in which one of Maasi’s signature samosas – spiced lamb, in this case – is buried beneath a blanket of rich brown choleh (chickpea curry) and finished with a chutney combo and a scattering of pomegranate seeds and crunchy sev. The rest of us tuck into a naanwich, a hillock of tasty constituents (chicken, chutney, slaw and pickled red onion) heaped on a small but perfectly formed naan. More fool anyone who tries to tackle it like a kebab rather than use the knife and fork provided. Even still, you’ll be very glad that napkins are near at hand.
St Luke’s Church Hall, Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff. 029 2063 0579 / www.maasiscardiff.com
words BEN WOOLHEAD
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