Monday, 1 September 2014

OUT AND ABOUT | MANJIT'S KITCHEN YELLOW HORSEBOX LAUNCH PARTY

Yesterday I went to a very special event indeed. The official launch of Manjit's Kitchen new yellow horsebox, a result of their successful Crowdfunder campaign earlier this year after a horrific turmoil involving their previous mobile which was vandalised and written off.


Their Crowdfunder wooed the hearts of many locals but also of many up and down the country. Becoming the proud owners of a blue horsebox, Manjit's Kitchen needed to raise funds in order to make it into a mobile Indian chaat station which they could use at events and to indeed make a living from.

Reaching their target in only a matter of days, Manjit's Kitchen then went on to transform their little blue horsebox into a spanking new mobile kitchen in around three months. Just see below for the before and after pictures.

(Photo: Manjit's Kitchen)

Celebrations of their new horsebox were ideally placed at the venue and vegetarian haven Wharf Chambers, Manjit's Kitchen teamed up with friends That Old Chestnut and The Grub & Grog Shop to offer a delectable feast. Matched with great beer and some musical vibes from Mr J it made for a gloriously sunny afternoon.


Tucking in with my friend Diane, we first launched into The Grub & Grog menu. With two options on the menu, we opted for both. First up was the Beetroot in Stout (£4) served with braised barley, malt oil, hop syrup, herb sauce and pickled carrot. Beautifully sticky and succulent wedges of beetroot on a seasoned bed of barley - real healthy feel good food. I loved the sauteed leeks and pickled carrot which garnished it too adding a sharpness to the dish.


Next up were the Courgette and Chilli Fritters (£3) served with herb sauce and malt. The chilli was subtle but the herb sauce enhanced the flavour. It was like a mixture of a salsa verde and a chimichurri, a real beaut!


Onto the main appeal of the day, I joined the winding queue at Manjit's Kitchen and waited in line for my food from their shiny new yellow horsebox! On top of their show-stopping chilli paneer wrap, they had an option of five different small dishes where you could mix and match three of them for £10. We went for the Samoosa Chaat, Avocado Pani Puri and the Watermelon Chaat (£10).


Being served up an amazing platter of vegetarian Indian delights, I'm never left unsatisfied by Manjit's food. It's always pleasingley fresh, homely and filling - but definitely not lacking in flavour. We devoured the meal in a matter of minutes. Samosa Chaat was indeed my favourite but then Chaat is perhaps to me the most delicious Indian food to exist, so slightly biased!



With one of my favourite bakers at hand, That Old Chestnut, I had to get a slice of what I will just say is the best ginger cake you will ever grace your mouth with. Their Sticky Stem Ginger Cake (£1.50) was as always a moist, spicy, and scoffable treat. So scoffable that it didn't even get a chance at seeing my camera lens!


It was an afternoon full of community cheer and high spirits, which is what to me street food is all about. Congratulations to Manjit's Kitchen and to what the future holds for them and their yellow horsebox!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

OUT AND ABOUT | NOM DELI

At the tail end of last month, Nom Deli, specialising in Vietnamese street food, opened on Great George Street in Leeds.

Joining the plethora of cafes and sandwich bars which the street plays host to, Nom Deli is in an ideal location to become a new favourite lunch haunt for those hungry suits and city workers.

Arriving on their opening day I went to have a little peek at their new place.


A fresh and clean interior, the cafe is small but openly warming. With their business based around serving healthy, delicious and reasonably priced Vietnamese street food, their menu offers the following:

Bánh Mì - Freshly toasted baguette served with carrot and daikon pickles, coriander, chilli mayo, and sauce with either tofu and mushroom, chicken, hoisin duck, grilled fish or BBQ pork (prices from £3.95).

Phở - Traditional rice noodle in slow simmered broth spiced with star anise, ginger and charred onions, served with bean sprouts, spring onion and fresh herbs, with beef or chicken (prices from £5.75).

Cuốn - Summer rolls wrapped with crunchy carrot and kohlrabi pickles, lettuce, vermicelli and fresh herbs (prices from £3.55).

BúnRice vermicelli salad with vegetable pickles, cucumber, fresh herbs, crispy onion 
and served with sh sauce or soy sauce (prices from £4.75).


I got talking to Anh who owns the business and she introduced me to her husband Minh and their co-worker Samantha who also happens to be their next door neighbour!

Ever so friendly and welcoming, Minh talked me through his experience of Vietnamese food and how it differs between cities. With photographs of Vietnam and their street food culture on the wall I was able to picture it for myself.


A hungry bear I was, I ordered a portion of the BBQ Pork Cuốn (£3.55). Two summer rolls with a portion of bbq hoisin dip. Dairy and gluten free this is a feel-good healthy option which was fresh and a tasty little snack. Filled with crunchy carrot and kohlrabi pickles, lettuce, vermicelli and fresh herbs, the pork shoulder was generous in its proportion but still soft and tender.


My friend Duc, also a Vietnamese street food trader from Le Petit Bánh Mì, joined me at this point and we ordered some more food. He dived straight into ordering the Beef Phở (£5.75). I had a good slurp and it was very flavoursome with a great stock. It was also really interesting to hear how many different variations of Phở there are between families, cities and regions in Vietnam. This is one special soup!


I had heard great things about their Bánh Mì from friends who had visited Nom Deli at their stall at Kirkstall Deli Market and eagerly ordered the Grilled Fish Bánh Mì (£4.25).

I have tried several different Bánh Mì's before but I have never been able to try one with fish. A white fish fillet was marinated in caramelised syrup, turmeric, garlic and grilled with dill and spring onion. Bright yellow in colour, the fish kept it's flavour and firm texture making for a substantial lunch. With the addition of the salad, herbs, mayonnaise and sauces this was indeed an absolute delight to eat. The baguette was also soft in the middle but crusty on the outside. The kind that leaves you with a puddle of embarassing crumbs in your lap. Spot on!


It is a pleasure to welcome Nom Deli as an extremely reasonable and delectable lunch venue to Leeds. It's great to see such authentic Vietnamese food grace the city. They are open from 10am-3.30pm Monday to Thursday and can be found at Kirkstall Deli Market on the last Saturday of every month.

Monday, 28 July 2014

OUT AND ABOUT | BRANDON STREET MARKET - JULY

Running since earlier this year, Brandon Street Night Market has become established on the Leeds street food scene as a monthly event offering street food, craft beers, live art and music at Canal Mills.

On the last Friday of every month, the venue becomes a space for independent street food traders to showcase their food to new crowds. It's only a ten minute walk from the city centre, entrance is free and it runs from 5-12pm.

Last Friday there was Pizzafella, Afrikhokho, El Kantina and Afsaneh's Persian Kitchen. An interesting mix of talented traders.


First up we met the lovely Chris from Afrikhokho. Alongside selling his chocolate delights from his stall, he was also making his very own chocolate and let us have a try of the chocolate during the conching process. An 85% South African dark chocolate was in the making and it tasted intense, deep and rich. It was really interesting to here about the procedures of chocolate making and the passion that Chris puts into his product.


We also got to try his Beetroot and Mustard Cake (£2.50) and a slice of Pistachio and Chocolate Fudge (£1.50). Everything was reasonably priced between £1.50 and £3 which is the average fair you would pay for a cake in an independent cafe.


It was sweet before savoury on this occasion, but the winner for my money that night was Afsaneh's Persian Kitchen. With an interesting menu of Persian treats, I couldn't resist buying their Mezze (£5) which meant I could taste a bit of everything!


Run by Afsaneh Kaviani, her business came after her stint as a finalist on Masterchef in 2012. Operating on a street food level as well as a private chef for supper clubs and events, her food has been received very well.


With my Mezze in hand I ventured outside to find somewhere to eat it. Served with toasted bread was a selection of mezze items, including feta, herb salad, bulgar wheat, roasted aubergines and my absolute favourite, a dip made of tomato and aubergine (I think it was caled Mirza Ghasemi). It was a beautiful silky smokey paste that just made me go WOW. 


Great food and another great event for championing local independent street food traders.

Have you been to Brandon Street Night Market?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

OUT AND ABOUT | THE WOODS

Last week I was invited to come and try Chapel Allerton's newest venue, The Woods.

Opening earlier this month, the three floor venue hosts a restaurant, bar and stage area for film screenings and live music. With the food being my main area of interest I had a look at the menu before accepting and was intrigued by what was on offer.


The menu is large, which for some can be off putting. However, the Woods specialises in dishes cooked using a wood fired oven, there are plenty of options for wood fired meats, fish and pizzas, with a section dedicated to vegetarian affair. They also serve brunch every weekend and a weekly Sunday lunch.

Arriving at around 7.30pm, the restaurant on the second floor was busy but not full. We got to choose a table and sat down. The waiters were eager to take our orders immediately but we sent them away twice before we even managed to get through the whole menu!


First up is wine. We went for a bottle of the house red, a French wine called Soubremont Domain Merlot Grenache (£12.00). This was served quickly, however it was not poured into our glasses or asked to be tasted but just meekly plonked on the table by the very shy waiter.

The wine was good. Perfect temperature, nice and well... I'm no wine conniseaur. It was certainly quaffable and that's always a good thing.


We set down to ordering our starters and our mains. I went for the Mini Cured Meat Board (£2.90) off the bar snacks/tapas menu whilst my friend ordered the Mozzarella, Tomato with Basil Leaves (£4.50) from the starters menu.


The Mini Cured Meat Board was indeed rather twee! Served on a small wooden platter was one slice of salami, one and a half slices of chorizo and a slice of prosciutto. These were drizzled with oil and a sprinkling of rock salt, but served lonesome with no bread. Considering that tapas is usually based around the concept of sharing, this wasn't exactly ideal. Luckily I was dining with a vegetarian.


The Mozzarella, Tomato with Basil Leaves also took us by surprise. We were expecting something along the lines of a Caprese salad with sliced fresh mozzarella, but what was served was a stack of chopped, skinned tomatoes with hard mozzarella cubes, a single basil leaf and a drizzle of infused oil. It was moulded and stacks on the plate, with a little bit of a collapse on arrival.


On to our mains. We both ordered pizza at the same time as we ordered the starters. We waited a total of fifty five minutes before our mains came and that was a good forty minutes after the starters, with our dirty plates removed just as the mains were served.

Arriving at our table were two 12" wood fired pizzas. I ordered the Smoked Mackerel, Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic and Basil (£7.90) - I ordered mine without cheese due to a mega cheese fest that had ensued that week. I also genuinely really like and in most cases prefer a pizza without cheese. The base was spot on, light but not soggy. This was a very nice pizza indeed and the interesting toppings were warmly welcomed as I have never had smoked mackerel on a pizza before.


The veggie got excited over the toppings that came on his pizza with Garlic Wild Mushrooms, Thyme, Artichoke, Lemon, Parsley and Pecorino Cheese (£7.90). As with mine, the base was crispy and light with a good crust. The flavours were all there and it made for a hearty feast at a good price.


We also ordered a Seasonal Leaf Salad (£2.50) on the side. This was also unfortunately forgotten and brought to the table after our mains were served.


We finished our mains and went straight to the pudding menu. Obviously we had to try the Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream (£3.50) and we opted to try their Vanilla Cheesecake (£3.50) too.


The puddings were hit and miss. First up was the cheesecake... the texture was rather unpleasant so we quickly left this and moved on to what was a winner! The brownie was warm, fudgey, dense and packed full of walnuts. Served with a scoop of proper vanilla ice cream and a toffee sauce this was very good indeed.


An overall interesting experience at The Woods. Service was not great but it also wasn't terrible. They have only been open a few weeks and as with all new venues and restaurants these are the toughest few to get things right.

I would be interested to return to see how the menu's differ as they change to reflect each season, as well as to see the service progress.

Have you been down to The Woods?


Disclaimer: I was invited to review this restaurant with a complimentary meal for myself and a guest, however all the views within this review are my own honest opinions.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

OUT AND ABOUT | CAFE MOOR

Following on from my previous post of eating in Kirkgate Market, this is also another gem which anyone who lives in Leeds would be happy to tell you about.

Cafe Moor serves up North African and Middle Eastern influenced street food and has a rather impressive stall situated into the left hand front entrance of Kirkgate Market.


Run by Kada, he says that "this is a great place for people who love good food, great value and authentic flavours and the market is the ideal location for us because we focus on affordable, fresh food made to order right in front of the customers, from really fresh ingredients".


If the food on display and wafting smells of shawarma and tagines aren't enough to get you going then their menu will do the trick. Affordable starters, meals, wraps and sandwiches are available from Monday-Saturday from 10-5pm, making this the perfect stop for a cheap and tasty lunch on the go.


On this occasion I ordered a wrap and went for the Falafel King (£4). A souped up falafel wrap containing falafel, grilled haloumi, roasted aubergine, chips, humous and gherkins served in an Arabic flatbread.

Placing my order I was given a complimentary cup of their mint tea which served as a refreshingly sweet palate cleanser.


With a quick service my food was made fresh before my eyes and served to me within five minutes. The wrap itself was stuffed full of all its components and looking pretty damn good!

All the flavours worked really well together however it was quite dry due to all the stodgey ingredients and could have benefited from some extra sauce. Despite this it was bloomin' tasty and made for a nice change to what you might come across from your favourite sandwich haunt.


I can also highly recommend their Humous Salad Wrap (£1.50) which is bargainous and great value for money and also healthier on the waistline too!

Have you been to Cafe Moor?
Do you have any other favourite places to eat in Kirkgate Market?