Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Mocca Moocho, Wakefield

I was hoping for a late breakfast on Saturday, but everywhere in Wakefield city centre seems to stop serving them at 11.30am on a weekend morning. Too early if you ask me, I want bacon and eggs available until at least 2pm, and preferably all day.

I did like the look of Moocho though, the outside tables were inviting in the pleasant sunshine so I decided to make it an early lunch. Quiche was about the nearest thing available to breakfast (it's mostly eggs right? Sort of like a cheesy breakfast pie) so I ordered a cheese and tomato one with salad (£4.95).

The quiche was very generously proportioned with a nice thin crust and a wobbly, cheesy filling. Unfortunately I'd made the mistake of saying yes when asked if I'd like it warm. What they actually should have asked is 'would you like us to blast the shit out of it in the microwave for five minutes?' Limp, soggy pastry was the end result. As we all know, pastry and microwaves do not a happy marriage make. The filling was still nice though.

The salad was artfully arranged but flavourless given the complete lack of dressing or lubrication of any sort. I'll excuse them that because the clientele were mostly getting on a bit, and elderly Yorkshire folk seem to be suspicious of salad dressing. The honourable exception to this rule being salad cream, which I like, but which isn't really dressing at all, more a special category of matter all of its own. I should have requested a sachet but didn't.

A cappucino was ok (about £2). What looked delicious, but I didn't try (too full of quiche) were some scones jam-packed with whipped cream and strawberries. There were also plenty of other cakes available, all of which appeared to be good quality.

Despite the microwave mishap I liked it here. I'll go back for tea and cake at some point, it looks a better option for this than Costa next door.


Mocca Moocho
10 Cross Square

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Box Pizza, Leeds (takeaway review)

After inadvertently spending the hottest day of the year so far indoors ripping out carpets and glossing skirting boards (tedious but necessary) I needed food and sunshine this evening. Pizza seemed like a plan, perhaps with a bit of salad and an ice cold beer. I'd heard good reports about Box Pizza, and given that the average takeaway pizza in this country tends to rank somewhere between mediocre and totally vile I thought it might be worth a shot. I picked up a margherita, a salami with chillies and roasted peppers, and a rocket salad.

The pizzas were pleasant enough, certainly above average takeaway standard. Toppings were good quality but the bases were nothing to write home about. I was hoping for bubbly, charred edge dough but got a limper, cornmeal dusted crust without much flavour.

The rocket salad was good. Plenty of peppery, fresh leaves with roasted cherry tomatoes and a generous covering of parmesan. Including a little pot of dressing was a nice touch too.

£15.60 for both pizzas and the salad. Not bad and easily enough for 3 people. Worth ordering if you're in the delivery area or passing through, but I wouldn't make a special effort. Is there better takeaway pizza in Leeds?


Box Pizza
The Triangle
2 Burley Road


Friday, 24 June 2011

The Garden Gate, Hunslet, Leeds

When I first heard about the existence of the Garden Gate I was intrigued. A pub built in 1903 in lavish style, with ornate woodwork, glazed tiling, mosaic floors, etched glass windows and more, all spread over four separate rooms in a solid, brick building. All of this still in situ in 2011 in all its period splendour. And to think this has been hidden away in the middle of a housing estate behind Hunslet Morrison's and I never even knew it was there. Many times over the last decade or so I've bought lunch from that supermarket, and on occasion dined in one of the pubs in the locale (the Punch Clock anyone?), and all the while I had no inkling of the existence of the Garden Gate.

After several years of decline under the ownership of Punch Taverns (no great surprise there), Leeds Brewery bought the pub in July 2010 and set about restoring it to former glories. On the evidence of my first visit today, they are succeeding. The whole building really is a site to behold, I can't think of a pub that rivals it for interesting, historic pub features other than perhaps the Marble Arch in Manchester. Now Grade II listed, English Heritage remarked that ‘the level of intactness throughout is unusually high, and nationally very rare’. A truly fantastic place for a couple of pints, in fact I'd possibly suggest a four pint in-house crawl, downing one in each of the rooms.

Back on topic the original intention of this post was to review the food. My other blog about the architecture and design history of public houses will have to wait. There's a menu of basic pub staples, very cheap at around a fiver each or two for eight quid. My mate and I both opted for the cheeseburger, which unfortunately was rubbish. The burger was a solid, greying, low quality affair, not particularly nice at all. The salad, bun and cheese were ok but that hardly compensates for the crappy meat. Chips were of the bog standard frozen variety.

So in summary, the pub is splendid but probably best stick to the drinks. The food will soak up the booze for not much money, but offer little more. To be fair to Leeds Brewery this may be all the punters want. The pub is hardly in a great location for attracting diners or passing trade. I know they serve good food elsewhere too, having had a really good burger (admittedly at twice the cost) at Pin earlier in the year. Hopefully in time the food can be upgraded a notch or two as more people make the effort to visit this gem of a pub .

9/10 for the pub, 4/10 for the food.

3 Whitfield Place
LS10 2QB


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Little Tokyo, Leeds

The quest for good South-East and East Asian food in Leeds continues. So far I think there are at least two good Thai places (Saengarun, Cottage, others?), just the one Chinese that's anything to write home about (Red Chilli), no Korean, no Malaysian, no Vietnamese but at least a couple of good Japanese places. I'm including Little Tokyo alongside Fuji Hiro here, as I enjoyed some fairly good ramen there over the weekend.

Little Tokyo is a different proposition, in that it's much more aimed at the evening out at a restaurant end of the market, rather than the quick bite, functional canteen style at Fuji Hiro. The interior here comes complete with a pond full of koi carp, a mini waterfall, and tables and chairs hewn from roughly cut tree trunks, bark and all. Perhaps this is authentically Japanese? Don't ask me though I've never been. The menu is also wider ranging, covering soup noodles, stir-fries, an extensive list of bento boxes and a selection of sushi and sashimi.

As I just wanted a quick meal, and for purposes of comparison, I stuck to the noodles and a side order of dumplings. Chicken chilli ramen was pretty good, the broth having a good depth of flavour and the noodles retaining bite. There were lots of different vegetables in the mix too, adding texture and variety. The only issue was the inclusion of too much hot chilli. I like my food spicy but this contained a lot of birds eye or finger chilli with all the seeds still in. The heat level would have been fine in a more full on dish (a laksa for example, where all the other flavours are an assault on the senses), but the rest of this was quite subtle so the chilli was a bit overwhelming. Still good though, I'm being quite picky here.

Crystal prawn dumplings were also nice, but lacked a bit in the execution. The prawn filling was really sweet, juicy and gingery, but the skins were slightly overcooked and had gone a touch gluey and chewy. Not sure about the crockery by the way, I prefer it plain and simple as opposed to the made in school pottery class approach found here.

With a bottle of lager this cost just under £15, almost exactly the same as a similar order at Fuji Hiro. It was all good stuff, but could have been better. So, on the basis of my completely unscientific sample of one meal at each place, I'm awarding my 'best ramen in Leeds championship' to Fuji Hiro.


24 Central Road

Little Tokyo on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Lamb with broad beans, peas and rocket

A perfect summer recipe. Imagine eating this outdoors in dappled sunlight on a warm June night, glass of wine at the ready. Wishful thinking. I actually ate it indoors, wearing a jumper, gazing out the window at the persistent rain. It was still delicious though. Rich, fatty meat offset by fresh, green, vibrant flavours. It even looks pretty, which is unusual for anything I cook.

What you will need (per person):

2 fat lamb chops (fillet or steaks would work just as well)
a small handful of peas
a small handful of broad beans
a small handful of rocket leaves
1 clove of garlic
Fresh mint
Fresh chives
olive oil (preferably both not EVOO and EVOO)
white wine vinegar
salt and pepper

What to do:

1. Pod and shell your broad beans, and pod your peas (frozen peas will do for this, but the beans need to be fresh).
2. Finely chop the mint and chives (about a tablespoon of chives and a dessertspoon of mint per person).
3. Season the chops with salt, chop the clove of garlic in half.
4. Heat some olive oil (preferably not extra virgin) in a shallow pan over a medium heat, add the halved garlic clove and then the chops.
5. Fry the chops until the fat has browned nicely and the insides are still nice and pink. Mine took around 7 minutes, but this will depend on their thickness.
6. When they are done, transfer the chops to a warmed plate and cover loosely with foil.
7. If there is more than a tablespoon or two of fat left in the pan pour off the excess. Discard the garlic.
8. Return the pan to the heat, and throw in the peas, beans and a tablespoon or so of white wine vinegar.
9. Fry for a minute or so, then throw in the mint, chives and rocket.
10. Fry for another minute or so, then plate up, placing the chops on top of the greens. Dress with extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and black pepper.
11. Serve immediately.

The quantities suggested can easily be multiplied for more people. The only thing I wouldn't change is the garlic. You only want the merest hint of it, so one clove should suffice for 3-4 people.

If you need some carbs I'd suggest some boiled new potatoes. I had a few jersey royals which were very disappointing. I haven't had a single decent one this year, they all seem to go from rock solid to burst and floury in an instant. Has anyone else had this problem? Apart from that this was a great dish, and in fine weather probably another one for the barbecue.

Friday, 17 June 2011

The International, Bradford

I haven't had a curry in Bradford for ages, and if it wasn't for adverse comments on Twitter I'd probably have gone to The Kashmir. Friends and I used to go there fairly regularly some years ago and it always hit the spot. The curries were decent if unspectacular, the seekh kebabs and chapattis better. I've spent a good few hours in the basic basement canteen (the upstairs restaurant bit wasn't the done thing) filling up there for for very little money.

Rumour has it though, that the Kashmir has gone downhill. At this stage if he reads it I'm expecting comment from a friend of mine who still goes there, and who may well consider this post sacrilege. We may have to settle this by going on a Bradford curry crawl, taking in the various contenders including Kashmir, Karachi, Khan's, Shimla and the International.

I decided to try International as a result of this review on them apples blog, and I'm glad I did so thanks for the tip off. A starter of vegetable pakoras weren't great, being far too stodgy. They weren't greasy, just the ratio of vegetable to gram flour batter was far too much in favour of batter.

The curry was much better. Afraid I can't recall the name of this (something shahi karahi?) but it was chicken, lentils and egg in a rich, perhaps slightly too reduced sauce. The lentils and chicken were both nicely cooked, and the addition of fresh fenugreek leaves made a pleasant change from coriander.

All of the karahi dishes come with a choice of chapattis, rotis, naan or rice. I chose the tandoori rotis which were excellent, crisp and bubbly from the tandoor.

The restaurant is a fairly basic sort of place but the service was lovely. Friendly and attentive with all the little bells and whistles beloved of Indian restaurants (free poppadum, warmed moist towels after your meal, even a chocolate mint with the bill!). Excellent value for just short of £11 including tip.


40-42 Morley Street

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Country Kitchen Bakery, Wakefield Market

Continuing on the market related theme, what has become of Wakefield market? From what I recall the indoor market was always a bit dull, and now it's just a bit dull in a nice new building.

The outdoor market however was a different matter. Quite large, and always lively with a slightly raffish air, particularly in the far corner where there was a sort of mini funfair section. This had a couple of rubbish rides, a few vans selling doughnuts and burgers, and plenty of youths hanging around. For a short while in my mid-teens I spent every Saturday operating the kiddies roundabout in return for £12 a day and a burger. What I remember most about this is the lingering smell of cheap cigarettes, stale fat and sweating onions. That and the sound of screaming kids who couldn't quite cope with all the excitement that forty pence could provide on a damp afternoon in Wakey. That and the fact that I had to push the roundabout to get it going otherwise the ancient motor would burn out.

As you've probably realised by now, this isn't going to turn into eulogy for the lost wonders of Wakefield market. Given the not particularly fond memories recollected above I'm actually quite glad they eventually bulldozed the lot and built a shopping centre on top of it.

What is disappointing is that the Council didn't see fit to bother with much of a replacement. The new outdoor market consists of a few stalls squeezed into the gap between the new indoor market and the Bus Station, with the new foodhall at the back of the stalls. Both seem to have plenty of vacant space despite being much smaller than the old market place. Where did all the other traders go?

The outcome is that there isn't a proper outdoor market place in Wakefield anymore, it was essentially designed out in the process of redevelopment. Which is a shame.

So, in an even more roundabout way than usual, to the original purpose of this post. In the little foodhall you will find the Country Kitchen Bakery, where for the price of a crap sandwich at many other places you can get a decent quality hot meal. With bread. And a drink. £2.95 is what a large bowl of beef stew, a basket of buttered (well alright marged) bread and a steaming mug of tea cost me. While not the finest stew I've ever tasted it was flavoursome, nourishing and obviously made from scratch with fresh ingredients.

This is why markets are always worth investigating, and are always worth supporting and saving. In amongst the rubbish there are always some hidden gems selling great produce, or cooking good food, and almost always at a better price than anywhere else.


Country Kitchen Bakery
Wakefield Market Foodhall
Union Street

Monday, 13 June 2011

The Source, Leeds Kirkgate Market

I'm a big fan of markets in general, and that includes the traditional sort as well as your upstart foodie and farmers markets that are popping up all over the place. I haven't shopped regularly at Leeds market since my student days, and some of those were before the turn of the millenium. I sort of lost interest over a period of time, put off by the general air of decay and sometimes poor quality of the wares. It's not that there was nothing worth buying, just that it could be a bit tricky to find. Eventually around four years ago I moved down to London.

Living in London re-ignited my enthusiasm for markets. They know how to do a market properly down there, and again I'm not just talking about tourist food porn places like Borough Market (although I do still love Borough). I lived in South East London and extensive, well frequented markets are all over the place. Lewisham, Deptford, Peckham and Brixton to name a few. One of the more noticeable aspects of the London street market is that you don't seem to get so much social stratification as you do in Leeds and elsewhere. To put it bluntly there doesn't seem to be so much of the attitude that markets are just for poor people.

After a brief sojourn in Manchester I've recently moved back to the Leeds area, and since starting this blog back in January I've been keeping an eye on market related goings-on both on Twitter and in other media sources. It seems there is a wide ranging debate going on about the future of Leeds market based around the themes of what and who is it for, and whether it can survive and thrive in its current size and form. For me the answers are that it can thrive without shrinking, provided that it caters to everyone in Leeds.

I go back to my previous point about the perception of the market being a place for poor people. I could be wrong here, but I reckon that a fair proportion of the working population of Leeds (let's call them young professionals, to scapegoat a particular demographic) wouldn't dream of shopping in the market. Attracting in the groups who don't currently use the market is probably the key to a successful future. I'm absolutely not talking about wholesale gentrification here, just to make that clear. Turfing out the most downmarket stalls would be an unmitigated disaster. What I mean is attracting new clientele without putting off the existing punters.

Which in a very roundabout way, brings me to The Source. The idea is a simple one, but a great one as far as I'm concerned. The Source occupies a stall in a more prominent area of the market and operates as a sort of tourist information centre. There is a big map of the market on display, with coded markers showing you where to go to buy different things. The rest of the stall is kept free for demos, tastings, visits from other market stalls, non-market based food shops and so on. On my first visit freshly squeezed orange juice was on offer for a £1 and there were jams and chutneys to taste. Last Friday (and now on a regular basis) The Sunshine Bakery from Chapel Allerton were selling cupcakes, sausage rolls (which are amazing, more about those later) and other goodies, and on Saturday a local goats cheese company took over.

I think the theory is that new customers will be drawn in by promotion on Twitter and the web in general, and by names they are already familiar with (if getting an upmarket bakery from Chapel Allerton on board doesn't work on this front then nothing will). Encouraged by the quality information on offer, they will explore the market further and spend a bit of their hard-earned cash. I really hope it's a success.

Finally, what else could be done to improve things further. A greater emphasis on cooked food stalls and cafés would be great, and would help to encourage lunchtime traffic. A burrito stall, a Korean café and a Vitenamese café will do very nicely please!



Sunday, 12 June 2011

Trying to cook the perfect steak (Volume 2)

I think I've come to a conclusion about the best way to cook steak. It has to be on the barbecue. No other method gives such a deeply savoury, smoky crust to the exterior. The tricky part is in the execution. Exactly how much heat your coals are giving out is difficult to gauge. Here is yesterday's attempt.

First and foremost, we need a piece of meat that is up to the task. I'm usually an advocate of buying the best you can possibly afford. A good piece of beef should be an occasional treat worth forking out for rather than a cheap everyday dinner. Having said that, take a look at this....

....and guess how much it cost. £6.60. For just under a kilo of pretty decent looking bone-in rib. It's not the finest looking beef I've ever seen, but it looks pretty damn good at that price point. This was from the South African butcher whose sausages I've already blogged about. I noticed they had a couple of big rib joints and a T-bone on the counter on my last visit, and made a mental note to return for some barbecue supplies.

I like a butcher who keeps some larger joints available so you can choose your own cut and size. So many places have everything pre-cut and trimmed down into small, boring pieces. I tried to buy a good steak from one of the more renowned farm shops in the area recently, and failed miserably. On display was nothing but prissy little 8oz sirloins and 6oz fillets. I asked if they had anything out back with a bone in it or at least to cut a larger size from, but was told no I'd have to make an advance order and return another day to collect it. Surely I'm not the only person in Yorkshire who wants a massive slice of cow, preferably with a bone in it.

Anyhow, now that I've got that off my chest, what shall we do with it?

Remove your steak from the fridge at least two hours before you want to cook it, then salt the steak at least half an hour before you cook it.

When the charcoal is white hot and there are no flames, whack it on the grill. Chilli boerewors to the left by the way. Yum.

Turn it a few times to make sure a crust is developing, but it's not burning.

This was the best part of two inches thick, so I left it on the grill for over 15 minutes.

Leave to rest, covered in a warm place for 15-20 minutes.

How did it turn out? Aaarrggghhh. Well done. Steak sacrilege.

With the juices poured over and some crusty bread it was still a pleasure to eat. A whole rib steak carries enough fat to keep it moist even when it's overcooked and you really cannot beat the umami hit the barbecue brings.

The Verdict

Method: Yes, cooking over charcoal is definitely best.
Execution: Rubbish, overcooked. I need to get a meat thermometer.
Meat: Excellent quality for the price. Not the finest but very good. I'll be back.

Next time: Buy a meat thermometer. Repeat as above. Stop cooking when the temperature says rare or medium rare.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Maureen's, Leeds

Continuing with my current obsession with all things jerk, here is a review of one of Leeds' foremost Caribbean eateries.

I've been to Maureen's before, what must be getting on for five years ago. It was here that I got my first proper introduction to Caribbean food, thanks to my ex-girlfriend's Jamaican Mum. I've been partial to a bit of West Indian cooking ever since. I wouldn't put it up there with the greatest cuisines of the world, but it's usually generous, hearty, spicy, packed with flavour and very good value, all worthy attributes.

Having made my first return visit last night, I can safely say I won't leave it so long next time. This was quite possibly the best jerk chicken I've ever eaten.

The chicken was just marvellous. Crisp, smoky skin with a lingering fruity, tingly spiciness from the Scotch Bonnets. The flesh beneath was moist, even the breast portion. The rice and peas were cooked perfectly. Star of the show overall though was the jerk gravy. At many places this is quite a thick, sweet sauce, sometimes almost like a barbecue sauce with added spice. This was a much thinner, stock based gravy, with a really deep chickeny flavour yet still packing a jerk punch. I can't think of many better things to pour over rice. I gnawed the bones and licked the plate dry.

Service with a smile is provided by Maureen herself, and the small jerk chicken with rice and peas costs a fiver. Yes this was a small. Large costs an extra quid and will be very large indeed. In case coconutty rice and peas doesn't provide you with enough carbs and fat, macaroni cheese is available for an extra 50p. Splendid, and very much worth a trip from town despite the less than glamorous surroundings.


105 Roundhay Road

Maureens on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Jerk Pork and Beef Shin Ragu

I've been toying with the idea of posting these two recipes for a while now. Neither of them are my own, so it seemed a bit daft to blog them here when you can go straight to the creators here and here. I've changed my mind for two reasons. One, I'm bored and can't be bothered tackling the ongoing DIY project that is my house. Two, both of the recipes are bloody fantastic, so deserve the effort. Please note, although I am posting them together I did not eat them together. That would be very, very greedy.

Jerk Pork

Good jerk is a thing of wonder. Sweet, spicy, fragrant, smoky meat, charred from the grill and oozing juices all over your fingers. When I moved house I forgot to return a joint of pork to the freezer on arrival. Spare pork plus chaotic kitchen in need of renovation could mean only one thing. Barbecue.

My memory was telling me that it was a boned and rolled joint, and as such I'd be able to chop it into large chunks suitable for marinading then grilling over coals. My memory was wrong. It was on the bone. Not having a suitable utensil for cutting through bone I had to resort to marinading and slow roasting the whole lot, then barbecuing it to finish off. Here is the evidence:

Yes those are burgers and sausages as well. The sausages were an unexpected treat (Toulouse from the Ginger Pig) that were hidden in with the joint that I'd completely forgotten about. The burgers were just in case the pork was too spicy for my friend's two year old daughter. And for me because I like to have a varied diet.

Anyhow the jerk marinade recipe comes from Helen Graves' Food Stories blog, which is one of the finest food and cooking blogs you're ever likely to find. The recipe is here, and top tips for cooking jerk are here. I didn't vary the recipe at all, other than to smother it all over a 1kg pork shoulder joint rather than some chicken pieces. Smaller pieces of meat is the sensible and better approach, as the marinade flavours will penetrate further through the meat. This was still bloody lovely though, eaten simply with some salad and crusty bread. No sauce was necessary as the pork was fatty enough to be lovely and moist on its own.

Beef Shin Ragu

This one comes courtesy of Paul at How Not to do a Food Blog, which is a misnomer as he does it very well. It's a ridiculously simple way of making a proper, slow cooked ragu. The recipe can be found here.

The only thing I varied from the original is the type of wine used (I had Chianti) and the herbs. I added some rosemary as I have a triffid like rosemary bush out back in my jungle of a garden. Apart from that the ingredients and method I used are the same. Using celery seeds is a great idea that I've never thought of before. It really adds depth when you have neither the time, ingredients or inclination to make a soffritto.

Serve with tagliatelle and the rest of the bottle of wine.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Hei Hei, Newcastle

I didn't arrive in Newcastle 'til after seven o'clock on a gloriously warm, sunny Thursday evening. Having been cooped up in office and car all day it was too good to miss, so I went for a good long walk around town and a couple of pints on the quayside before finally rocking up at Hei Hei some time after nine.

As on the previous night, it wasn't at all what I'd planned, but beer and sunshine had whet my appetite for spice. The menu at Hei Hei (another Twitter recommendation, thank you very much) ranges all over China, covering Cantonese and Sichuan classics as well as dishes from Beijing and Shanghai.

Soft shell crab wasn't the best start. It tasted fine, but was very greasy, the meatier pieces of crab having soaked up the frying oil like a sponge.

Spicy hot poached lamb was far more successful. An absolute beast of a dish rammed full of sichuan peppercorns, dried chillies and a bulb or two of garlic. Nestling in the oily broth were tender slices of lamb and plenty of al dente beansprouts and greens. All that was necessary by way of accompaniment was some plain steamed rice to soak up the juices and dampen the fire. A word of warning, don't do as I did and eat this an hour before you want to be asleep in bed. This needs some serious digestion time.

With a couple of Tsing Tao beers and a tip for the good service the bill came to about £26. Another feather in Newcastle's dining cap.


46 Dean Street
Newcastle upon Tyne


Friday, 3 June 2011

The Wee Curry Shop, Partick, Glasgow

Best laid plans and all that. I started out with no intention whatsoever of eating Indian food in Glasgow this week. I was thinking Spanish or maybe even a rare foray into Italian, but my first two restaurant choices were both utterly deserted. I didn't fancy being the sole diner staring out at the drizzle from an empty room, so moved on. Said drizzle wasn't really conducive to a lengthy walk either so I ended up at the Wee Curry Shop near the bottom of Byres Road. Not entirely a random choice as I dined at one of their other restaurants last summer and really enjoyed it.

The menu here is refreshingly short, and gives equal billing to both vegetables and meat. There are just five starters and eleven main courses, a rare sight in Indian restaurants where the 'something for everyone 500 different options' menu seems to prevail over the 'do few things and do them well' school of thought.

To begin, haddock with mustard seed and curry leaves was served in the foil it had been baked in. It was simple and delicious, lightly cooked until it just flaked and marinaded with nothing but the named ingredients and a bit of salt.

Sticking with the meat avoidance plan, next up was channa paneer with broccoli. I've heard paneer described as being a bit like feta, or a bit like cottage cheese. This was nothing like either. It was slightly rubbery, but not in a bad way. The flavour was really mellow and milky, perhaps more like mozarella if anything. Despite the mildness it was still distinct through all of the other tastes in the dish.

The earthier tastes; creamy paneer, nutty chickpeas and vegetal broccoli were offset beautifully with the tangy, garlicky tomato based sauce. Slivers of raw ginger and coriander leaf added little vibrant bursts of flavour. Scooped up in light, pillowy roti this was fantastic. Great with rice too, although an extra roti would have been a better choice.

I thoroughly enjoyed this, despite the deliberate lack of lamb it was the best Indian meal I've eaten this year. Service was efficient and amenable, and it was great value too (£16.90 including a generous tip).


The Wee Curry Shop
41 Byres Road
G11 5RG


Wee Curry Shop on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Saengarun Thai, Leeds (Takeaway review)

A very big thank you to the Twitter people that put me on to this place. I got takeaway from here on Sunday night and it was excellent. Really good Thai food can be quite a challenge to find in this country, so it's great to discover a local gem. Many of the larger, more upmarket Thai places seem to have chucked money at the restaurant fixtures and fittings, but don't give the same care and attention to the food. I've had very dull meals lacking the vibrancy you expect from Thai food both here and here. Perhaps Saengarun are having a subtle dig when they say on their website: 'Not the finest decorated restaurant in Leeds, but we do serve the best and most authentic tasting Thai food..'.

I ordered a Som Tam (shredded papaya salad) from a short selection of salads, then a Gaeng Ped (red curry) with boiled rice to follow. 

The Som Tam was an absolute face melter. Ridiculously hot, there was no toning down for the unsuspecting farang here. It was sensory overload with the multiple flavours of chilli heat, sour lime, salty fish sauce, pungent garlic and sweet palm sugar all mingling with the multiple textures of brittle peanuts, cold, crunchy papaya and soft, pounded tomatoes. Startlingly good, although I did give up half way through as it was just that little beyond my heat tolerance level. Nothing wasted though, as I finished it for supper the day after.

The curry was also a success, and thankfully a little milder. Generously proportioned with a good mix of vegetables and well cooked chicken, the sauce was rich, coconutty and anise scented from thai sweet basil.

Prices are a little higher than you might expect for a takeaway (most things on the menu seem to be a pound cheaper than the dine in price, my bill came to £15), but it's definitely worth it. I'll be back for more.


159 Briggate


Saengarun Thai on Urbanspoon
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