Market stall snacks, posh doners and bang-on Goan cuisine
THE pace of new places to eat opening in Leeds is showing no sign of slowing down, so it’s understandable if there are a couple that you haven’t got round to visiting yet – or even ones that may have slipped your mind over summer or escaped your attention all together.
Keeping it local or taking a trip into international waters, here’s a round-up of the newcomers worth a punt that Thom Archer thinks you might be missing.
What - Owt
Where - Row 1, 1875 Hall, Kirkgate Market, LS2 7HN
If you squint at Owt, you might just trick your brain into thinking you’re in Barcelona’s Mercado de La Boqueria rather than Kirkgate Market. As the name suggests, they’ll cook ‘owt’, depending on what’s available to source from the grocers and butchers in neighbouring market stalls. The succinct menu features a few dishes which change every week, as well as breakfast rolls and shakshuka, salads, cakes and seasonal cordials from Eat Your Greens over the road, all at incredible value.
Later on in the summer, the stall is due to undergo a bit of a transformation to allow for extra seating; originally specced as a grab-and-go place, actually, customers tend to stick around for a chat while they eat, bringing a sense of community back to the market. Find out more about Owt.
What - Wen’s
Where - 72-74 North Street, LS2 7PN
Rumour has it that vegetarian Indian institution Hansa’s closed its doors on North Street to preserve its legacy as there wasn’t an heir in place to take over when Hansa retired. It’s a nice passing of the torch then that the restaurant has been taken over by the family behind Wen’s, an authentic Chinese home-cooking restaurant.
Dishes like Dan Dan Noodles, braised pork belly with preserved cabbage, and preserved egg with silken tofu are prepared fresh by chef Wen, dumplings – pan-fried, boiled and elusive xia long bao soup dumplings – are made by Aunt Song’s own hands, and front of house is handled by the youngest member of the family, Chao. Not only does it have a nice story behind it, the food is absolutely earth-shatteringly good, too. (Full review coming soon.)
What - Kuala Lumpur Café
Where - 2-4 Bennett Road, LS6 3HN
One of our new favourites, even if it’s not all that new in itself, Headingley’s Kuala Lumpur Cafe serves one belter of the Malaysian street food classic roti canai. The puffed-up, black-blistered snack consists of paratha bread made of infinite layers of translucent dough – perfect for dunking into KLC’s curry sauce.
For something a bit more substantial, try Malaysia’s ‘national dish’ nasi lemak – fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. But even though there’s a whole menu of other Malaysian dishes, blending influences from Malaysia, China and India, I’m still not over the excitement of that roti canai yet. More here.
What - Sqew
Where - BrewDog North Street, Crispin House, New York Road, LS2 7PF
Red’s dead baby, Red’s dead. OK, well Red’s True Barbecue isn’t dead, but it’s been to the brink and back, with the leisure group behind the ‘classy’ gentlemen’s lounge Whiskey Down saving it from liquidation.
Coincidentally, one of Red’s founders is also spending a lot of time watching glistening flesh gyrate around a pole, having started a new pop-up, serving doner wraps in Shuffledog, BrewDog’s Leeds North Street venue. As well as ‘upmarket’ doner, there’s other kebab shop staples like shish, shawarma and grilled halloumi, with fresh salads and homemade sauces.
What - Franco Manca
Where - 1 Trinity Street, LS1 6AP
OK this one’s only been open for about 45 minutes, so you can be forgiven for missing it (although we did flag it up here). Burgeoning Neapolitan pizza chain Franco Manca continues its reach outside London all the way to just outside Trinity Leeds, where it’s transformed the former Pintura site into an unrecognisably bright and breezy pizzeria.
Expect simple classics done very, very well, with exacting standards for produce and ingredients, as well as solid drinks priced up to encourage sociable quaffing rather than nerdy savouring.
What - Holy Ramen
Where - Assembly Underground, 12 Great George Street, LS1 3AL
The long-awaited sequel to Mexican-ish spontaneous gourmet fast food pop-up Holy Mountain finally set up shop in Assembly Underground this summer, giving a similar treatment to casual, rapid ramen.
The menu features two or three permanent items, with specials putting in an appearance on a weekly basis, depending on what bursts out of chef Harry’s imagination. One week it could be a collaboration with one of his Assembly neighbours, and the next a bowl of noodles inspired by the release of Godzilla in cinemas. Read our interview with Harry from earlier this year here.
What - De Baga
Where - 9 Otley Road, LS6 3AA
If I’ve been counting correctly, The Cat’s Pyjamas is now on the third or fourth of its nine lives, now under completely new ownership., and now, a few doors down, the former Whites Deli has been turned into Leeds’ first (to my knowledge) restaurant claiming to serve authentic Goan food. This is a cuisine unique in its syncretism of Muslim rule followed by Portugese colonisation.
Expect traditional curries, grilled meat platters and momo dumplings, as well as more familiar, broadly Indian-influenced dishes.
What - JJ’s Vish and Chips
Where - 402a Kirkstall Road, LS4 2QD
That’s not a spelling mistake – Kirkstall Road is home to a new chippy set in an episode of the Twilight Zone. It looks just like any other, with the batter and the sausages and the curry sauce and the tins of shandy… except everything is meat free (so ‘v’ for veggie).
The fish is made from banana blossom! The spam fritters are made of fake spam!! The mushy pea fritters?! They’re made from mushy peas - OBVIOUSLY. Review coming soon.
What - Mog’s
Where - 55 Kirkstall Lane, LS5 3BE
Speaking of vegan fast food, the original has been resurrected – after a hiatus and a change of hands, Kirkstall’s cult favourite Mog’s is back, under new management. The venue’s had a much-needed makeover, but the menu remains familiar, with all-vegan fried chicken, burgers and dirty fries, plus a new range of dessert shakes and ice cream sandwiches.
What - Rosa’s Thai Café
Where - Trinity Leeds, 27 Albion Street, Leeds LS1 5AT
While our reviewer found much to love at the Thai mini-chain which recently took over the former Cielo Blanco site in Trinity Leeds, it didn’t quite have what it takes to lure him away from his long-term Thai go-to. Still worth checking out for the grilled things on skewers and world-beating sweetcorn fritters, though.
Need more ideas? Check out our best dishes to eat in and around Leeds this month.