Thanks to Giggling Squid for inviting us for a complimentary family meal for the purpose of this review
We kicked off half term with a lovely invite to review Giggling Squid, one of Cardiff’s newest small-chain restaurants, located on The Hayes side of St David’s shopping centre, Cardiff. Giggling Squid serves gorgeous Thai food in the most beautifully decadent surroundings, with bird-cage seating booths, impressive faux floral displays, blue, pink and green patterned walls and ornate ceilings. There’s so much to look at, it took us a while to even think about the menu.
The chain was founded in Brighton in 2002 by Pranee Laurillard, who grew up in a small Thai fishing village off the banks of the Mekong Delta, and her husband Andy. They wanted to bring the buzz of Thai mealtimes to the UK, “energetic, informal, adventurous and welcoming” as their website says. Their winning formula has seen them grow to close to 50 restaurants.
My husband and I had been to another Giggling Squid a few years ago and we loved it, so when they opened in Cardiff St David’s in the summer (with another coming to Mermaid Quay next year) we couldn’t wait to visit as a family.
Take a look at this video review of Giggling Squid Cardiff on the Cardiff Mummy Says Instagram channel.
Our children love Asian food, with curries, Pad Thai, noodles and stir fries among our regular family meals. And it would seem lots of other children feel the same. Research by Giggling Squid found that almost half (47%) of children surveyed claim stir fry is amongst their liked dishes, while almost a quarter (24%) say sushi. Additionally, almost two-thirds (64%) of children surveyed would choose to eat a naan bread at snack time and half (50%) would pick a spring roll. A third (33%) said they like ‘spicy chilli’ in their meals with curry spice topping the list (49%) of flavours they like to enjoy in their food.
With this in mind, it’s great to see Giggling Squid offering a children’s menu in keeping with the main menu offerings, with young diners able to choose two mix and match small plates, and a serving of rice, for £7.99. My 9 year old went for grilled pork on skewers and dipping sauce and chicken satay and peanut sauce, plus a sticky rice. The portions were generous in size and really flavoursome and he loved being able to mix and match.
We visited in half term 2023, when young diners are invited to enter Giggling Squid’s colouring competition, which runs until 5 November 2023. First prize is a family ticket to Sealife London with seven runners up prizes of a £100 Giggling Squid Gift Card. See website or ask at the restaurant for full details plus terms and conditions.
My two eldest children are now 13 and 12 so they opted for the main menu.
The two of them are vegetarian and I’m vegan so we were pleased to see lots of suitable meal choices. Way more than just a token offering, a number of the signature dishes are available with different meat options or vegetarian/vegan. There’s also a gluten free menu too.
On the recommendation of one of the serving staff, who told us it was her absolute favourite, my 12 year old and I both went for the vegetable massaman (£13.50, first picture below) which, according to the menu, is “a curry with mythical origins… and legendary flavour”. As someone with delicate taste buds, it wasn’t at all spicy but was filled with so many different flavours including coconut milk, cardamom, cinnamon and star anise with crunchy cashew nuts. Adding spoonfuls of rice was delicious, as the rice absorbed all the flavours. Definitely a dish I’d order again.
My 13 year old had the vegetable Giggling Pad Thai (£12.50, pictured above), a dish of rice noodles with tofu, beansprouts, sliced red onions, Thai chives and crunchy peanuts and which, in her words, was ‘super nice’.
My husband loved the Thai Melting Beef (£18.25, pictured below), tender beef in a rich, velvety red curry sauce, flavoured with cha plu cabbage leaves.
You’ll need to order rice separately, costing between £3.50 and £4.75. Plus there are plenty of starters, sharing platters and sides…
…. not to mention an intriguing selection of desserts too. My youngest had the ice lolly from the children’s menu, my daughter had the delicious and creamy lychee yoghurt ice cream (£4.95), while my other son had the caramelised mango cake (£7.25). They both enjoyed the unusual delicate flavours.
We visited on a Sunday evening and it was a real mix of families, couples, and groups of friends, creating a lively atmosphere.
A great new addition to Cardiff’s city centre dining scene, this is perfect for families who enjoy East Asian cuisine and something a little different.
It’d also be great for a date night or evening with friends. I’m looking forward to returning to sample one of the Thai cocktails!
Giggling Squid, St David’s Dewi Sant, 29-33 The Hayes, St David’s Centre, Cardiff CF10 1GA
Have you been to Giggling Squid? Let me know in the comments below.