Andrew Chongsathien’s Brother Thai has built a reputation rivalled by very few. He is South Wales street food royalty, one of that select few with such a following that we gladly form queues visible from space.
So it’s easy to understand the excitement around this, their first permanent home here on Cardiff’s Whitchurch Road. The former Cocorico Patisserie is now coloured in a simple but tasteful palette: off-white walls, swathes of black and dark wood tones. Informal and unfussy. All the colour and drama is reserved for the food.
Bottled beers include Singha and Chang but on a sticky, sultry afternoon Empress, a hoppy-citrussy pale ale, slips down a treat. Coming here and not ordering a filled roti would be little short of perverse. The sticky beef is the best known version, and familiar since 2015, so let’s avoid the obvious and have the chicken.
Little nuggets of thigh meat, glazed and sticky, spiked with the subtle anise notes of Thai basil, that familiar light flakiness of the bread, the give as it moulds around the filling. It doesn’t risk tampering with a genuine classic, but why bother? It is renowned for a reason, a handful of lovely things competing for your attention before you just give up, roll it and get to work. It’s unmistakably Brother Thai. And however many times you have eaten these in the last six years, it’s good to be reminded just how remarkable they are.
Fried chicken impresses, too. Two thighs more suited to peloton than plate, their hulking dimensions belying the impeccably light batter and the quite exceptional tenderness of the flesh. My advice: don’t go with anyone you need to impress. You don’t want to waste time worrying how you look: get stuck in and make a mess. Chicken this good demands it: abandon politeness. Indulge appetite. There’s some tiresome bullshit around the marketing of some fried chicken in this city right now. The best examples just make their case with quiet confidence; and this is very, very good fried chicken indeed.
Beef is inevitable at some point, though. The bowl is awash with the stuff in all its rugged glory. That fine-ground mince is everything you want: hot, sour, rich, fragrant and subtly sweet. It reminds me of larb, and as I leave Andrew tells me it is both a fond childhood memory and the original inspiration for the renowned sticky beef roti which made his name. It’s a reminder of how often our best cooking plays with echoes.
A fried egg and white rice provide ballast in a substantial portion. Could the egg have been a little more eager to ooze? Possibly. Am I splitting hairs? Obviously. Will you order this? Hopefully.
Any place which wants to feed me food this good while they play me LCD Soundsystem is fine by me. Service is brisk, but more importantly personable and charming. Andrew, Shelley and the team have made something rather special here. It’s already hugely popular, with bookings harder to come by than a straight answer- or a principle- from a tousled-headed Old Etonian. But don’t be dissuaded. Chance your arm on a walk-in around quieter periods, because you won’t be disappointed.
Despite the new home, it’s business as usual for Brother Thai. The setup may be casual: the cooking’s anything but.
Brother Thai, 35 Whitchurch Road, Cardiff CF14 3JN
Mon & Tues – Closed
Wed 16:00 – 22:00 (last orders 21:00)
Thu 16:00 – 22:00 (last orders 21:00)
Fri 16:00 -23:00 (last orders 21:45)
Sat 12:00 – 23:00 (last orders 21:45)
Sun 12:00 -20:30 (last orders 19:30)
Book here- https://www.brotherthai.co.uk/
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.