A Cardiff institution, this humble-looking eatery is renowned for its spicy curries, ‘amazing’ thali specials (£8.95) and authentic Indian sweets. Family-run for over 15 years, Vegetarian Food Studio has built up a loyal following of locals and visitors alike, thanks, in part, to the numerous awards it’s garnered over the years.
You’ll need to cross the river to get to it, as it’s on a residential street outside of the city centre, but the extra distance is well worth it once you step inside. The interior is brightly lit and fairly functional with plain wooden tables and chairs, but this homely restaurant knows what it’s about, and that is authentic Indian cuisine served with a smile. Vegetarian Food Studio is truly family run, with head chef, Neil Patel, having learned everything from his grandmother, who can still be found helping out at the restaurant.
Most dishes are vegan and prices – which have remained low in spite of the restaurant’s success – inspire greedy ordering. A starter of ‘atom bombs’ (baby potatoes filled with garlic, chilli and cumin served with tamarind chutney) comes highly recommended; otherwise, sample paneer pakora, deep-fried cassava or masala muttar kachori (crisp pastry filled with peas and spices).
Main courses range from familiar muttar paneer and tarka dhal through to ringan nu sak (aubergine in a spicy sauce) and all the usual breads, rice and sundries. There’s also a list of traditional cold snacks such as idli chaat and bhel puri, alongside various South Indian specials, including dosa, and a pan-oriental selection offering the likes of chilli mushrooms and vegetable haka noodles. Wash it all down with traditional lassi or masala tea.
Vegetarian Food Studio also caters to events and has even been known to host weddings. The restaurant is known throughout the country as being one of the best vegan restaurants, so if you’re hoping to dine there while visiting Cardiff, it’s worth booking in advance.