I’ve never been to Japan and unfortunately my experience of Japanese culture is limited to what I’ve seen in films and TV shows, but I’ve always liked the look of the pristine-looking bars and cafes where trendy Tokyo-dwellers (and Bill and Scarlett in Lost in Translation) hang out. So, when I heard about the arrival of Double Super Happy in Cardiff, which describes itself as ‘serving up Dim Sum, Cocktails and Satay in a bubblegum Tokyo inspired setting’ I was thrilled – and it quickly made its way to the top of my ‘must visit’ list.
Double Super Happy has its official launch on Friday 9th November 2012, but is already open for business, so a friend and I went along to check out their offering. I immediately loved the décor – predominantly white, with some splashes of bright pink and green, with funky tables and chairs. Food and drink menus were printed on brightly coloured paper, with tick boxes alongside the food for diners to make their order. I’ve heard that plans are afoot to introduce a karaoke booth in the future, and I think this will be brilliant! When we visited, there was unfortunately a problem with the heating, so we did shiver a little throughout our meal – but I feel certain this will be resolved ready for the launch, so I haven’t taken it into account in my ratings.
We ordered a selection of different dim sum, satay and nibbles, and I indulged in a couple of selections from the decidedly Japanese-themed cocktail menu too!
While we decided on our order, we nibbled on some delightfully crisp and chunky prawn crackers, which glistened invitingly (not in a greasy way!) and were as good as they looked. On the table were some ‘super hot’ chilli sauce and some soy, which could be put in the little dish supplied with the prawn crackers. I tried a smidgen of the chilli sauce, which was enough to tell me that it was indeed super hot!
An obvious first choice for us was the deep friend soft shell crab, which came served in a light batter and was crispy, meaty and delicious.
Similarly delightful was the chicken satay, which was honestly one of the best I’ve ever tried: tender, succulent whole pieces of chicken breast, with a thick peanut sauce – which again wasn’t in the slightest bit greasy. It had obviously been freshly cooked to order and was fantastic. I’d go back for this again tomorrow if I could!
Our dim sum of choice were prawn and coriander dumplings – three little steamed delights, bursting with juicy prawn filling. In common with several of the other dishes, these brought about our only slight complaint of the evening: three pieces, which when diners are more likely to be visiting in even-numbered groups, make sharing quite awkward (especially when you’re using chopsticks and don’t have a knife to hand – although we were offered cutlery should we need it!)
Thai red curry corn fritters provided a lovely contrast with our meat and fish dishes, and again were crispy and freshly prepared, without a hint of greasiness.
Finally, we chose a cabbage and peanut salad – crunchy cabbage with a light, fragrant dressing and crushed peanuts, which was a nice, fresh side dish.
We finished the meal feeling satisfied, but not stuffed – again, testament to the light, fresh style of cooking.
Last but not least, the cocktails deserve a special mention. Double Super Happy comes under the same ownership as Pica Pica, which has a great cocktail list, so I had high hopes for its sister venue and I wasn’t disappointed. Some of the descriptions were a little vague – not all of them stated exactly what spirits were in the recipe, which wasn’t a problem for me, but could be for fussier or less adventurous drinkers! My first choice was one such option – a K L Koolaid, which was described as tangy liquid marzipan with hints of orange and cranberry. Marzipan is a bit like Marmite, and my friend hated the sound of this one, whereas I loved it – and really enjoyed the drink, which was exceptionally refreshing and tasted exactly as it was described.
My second choice was a martini – Lychees and Roses – which was lychee juice and rose hip water laced with vodka. This was particularly delicious and had the delicate, aromatic flavour of Turkish delight.
Other delights on the cocktail list include Hong Kong Fuey, China Blue, Tigers Milk and Japanese Slipper – to name but a few – and I’ll definitely be going back to try a few more. They’re all around the £7 mark, but this seems to be the going rate for cocktails, and when they’re freshly made to order with love and care, and are as good as these ones, I think they’re worth every penny.
Even with a couple of cocktails for me (my friend had a soft drink), our bill only came to £39, which I think is fantastic value.
I loved Double Super Happy, and can’t wait for it to launch properly and to start doing the roaring trade I think it deserves. The service was attentive without being overpowering (there were only a few fellow diners on our early evening visit, but the staff took care not to come over too frequently) and I was impressed that they asked us questions about what we’d enjoyed, whether there was anything they could improve etc. as it’s always good when a new business actively seeks customer feedback. The food was excellent and I love the cocktails and the fun, funky concept – and I hope that the karaoke comes along soon.
Above all, I’m thrilled that despite using many superlatives in this review, I’ve managed to get through the entire post without succumbing to the obvious and describing myself (or the food) as Double Super anything!
Food: **** Service: ***** Ambience: ****
Double Super Happy, 31 Westgate Street, Cardiff CF24 2DW