Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine
With the blog I am trying not just to look at new places (good and sometimes not so good), but also different stuff about place I have blogged about already. Whilst it is good to put up posts on all the new places opening up, in reality existing places are evolving and innovating all the time. As such they seem to me to be worth further posts rather than operating on a love em and leave em, for the next shiny new place, basis.
I blogged about Blue Honey Night Cafe a number of years ago and it is nice to see (with all the closures, I am having to continually update the blog to cover these) it is still going (seemingly) strong (it was certainly gratifyingly busy on the date of my most recent visit), with an expansion (in addition to retaining the Night Cafe) into the old Milgi unit on City Road.
With Mrs. SF away with the dogs, making food at home after a long day in work didn’t appeal and I am not really much of a fan of takeaway. I therefore decided to eat out and persuaded a friend from work to come with me to give the baos at Blue Honey a go.
I am a big fan of a bao having been totally won over by the offering at Bao in London,
so was interested to see how the Cardiff version compared.
At their best baos are soft fluffy delights filled with fragrant, melt in the mouth, fillings. At their worst they are bland, bland, bland. My work’s canteen/restaurant has tried to do them to disastrous effect (I thought I had mistakenly eaten the paper napkin, alas it was their attempt at a bao).
The menu certainly has an enticing feel to it, with fine sounding beef and chicken options (and a mushroom and kale one for the veggies).
Oddly the menu refers to bao buns (bao translates to bun so this actually reads as “bun buns” – I suspect this is not intentional). Another oddity was the absence on the menu of the classic gua (braised pork belly) bao. Shame that, as a good gua is a wondrous thing.
In the absence of my go to gua bao, we went for one each of the crispy beef bao, a Korean Fried Chicken (KFC) one (for me) and a garlic mushroom one (for my friend).
The baos for the chicken and mushroom ones were quite light and fluffy
but a bit deflated for the beef ones
In terms of the fillings, I thought the KFC was on the money. A nice, crisp, spicy coating adorned well flavoured and juicy chicken.
The sriracha mayo and gochajang sauce added a nice bit of lip tingling heat, tempered by sharp and crisp pink pickled onions and a refreshing Asian slaw. Very morish stuff and a decent portion size.
Whilst the baos for the crispy beef were a bit deflated and thus lacked the trade mark pillowy fluffiness, the fillings certainly packed a flavour punch.
The beef was properly crispy (as opposed to the elastic bands you sometimes get), with a sweet sticky sauce (touch of chilli in there) adding nicely to the mix. I particularly liked the stir fried broccoli, which had a lovely slightly charred flavour to it
I didn’t try the garlic mushroom one
but was told it was very nice. My dining companion said it had a good hit of garlic, nicely crispy (oil free) deep fried kale and a punchy sate sauce (her words were “What isn’t made better by a decent sate sauce?” – trifle was the first thing that came into my head).
I thought the £17 price tag (they are £5 each, but that reduces to £8.50 for 2 and £12 for 3) for all four was pretty good value.
We also had a couple of the sides, in the form of the loaded fries (£3.90) and the smacked cucumber salad (£3.50).
Loaded fries often flatter to deceive, with the promise of loads of cheese and/or meat too often leading to a mess of cheap meat and coagulated cheese all acting to make the fries soggy. These, however, were very good
The fries were piping hot and nicely crisp, whereas the topping of veggies, herbs, sriracha mayo and a chilli sauce added a nice mix of heat, acidity and texture rather than tepid sogginess. For an extra 90p over the standard fries, this is well worth the upgrade. It was also a good size portion and thus ideal for sharing.
The smacked cucumber salad was not much to look at, but operated as a good palate cleanser and had some pleasing fresh flavours to it.
My only criticism was, oddly, I thought the portion size too big. It worked well as a palate refresher, but as we worked through it got a touch the samey. Maybe a dish to share between more than two people, so you only have a little bit each.
On the booze front, they are refreshingly honest. We asked about wine and they had two (a merlot and a pinot grigio). My friend wanted a glass of white wine and the chap at the bar said it was OK if a bit boring/non descript.
He wasn’t wrong (commercial PGs tend be mind numbingly dull), but we did have a chat regarding wines and with the expansion to a second site on City Road they are going to have more space so will stock more wines there and hopefully be a bit more adventurous.
For the spicy stuff I suggested a Grüner Veltliner. Lovely, mainly Austrian produced, wine (also can get increasingly good New Zealand ones and the grape is starting to spread it wines outside of those areas) that has a great affinity with spicy (not blow your socks off hot) food. I think a Grüner would work very well with the baos we had. Riesling (New or Old World) is also always a winner with this type of food
Another sort of wine that would work well with this sort of food (you already know what I am going to say, don’t you!) is sherry or a Montilla Moriles wine. A palo cortado would, I think, have worked an absolute treat with all three of the baos we had.
A nice addition to their summer drinks repertoire would be a rebujito – very refreshing, ideal as a sun downer and again I think it would work with the food.
I had a couple of bottled beers (a Punk IPA and then a Moretti after the former had run out) as all the draught beers were off. Nice enough with the food, but I would have preferred a decent glass of wine.
I have always liked the Blue Honey Night Cafe. Interesting food, with a good vibe (even for a miserable, old, git like me) makes for a good combo.
The offering on Tuesday nights, with the baos, was very much to my liking. The baos and sides offer good flavours at fair value for the £31 (sans a well deserved tip) all in for the food and booze.
OK they don’t reach the heights of the offering at Bao in London, but they were tasty and pretty good value.
Would I go back? Yes – definately one to cheer me up on a dreary Tuesday night.
I do wish the booze selection was a bit better though (it is limited at best and on the night even more so than usual).
Personally, I think they should consider putting in place a corkage policy. With them having such limited space to stock booze at the Quay St. site, this would be easy money for them and people like me can take in a decent bottle (win, win if you ask me).
Sully’s Cafe, 4-5 Quay Street, Cardiff, CF10 1DZ
Twitter: @bluehoney_ (account doesn’t seem active).
Website: click here
Bao Tuesday : Kitchen starts serving food from around 18.00 – 18.30 (drinks available from 5pm).