It would seem disingenuous to write an entire article explaining the concept of Trinity Kitchen, considering how firmly it’s established itself in the 4 months since it opened its roof and doors to food vans and customers, respectively. It’s a big, industrial-looking, open-plan food court with a few permanent restaurants, and a rotating cavalcade of food vans which get replaced every month or so, allowing you to pick a different vendor for each course if you so choose; an infinitely customisable take on fusion cuisine.
The fleeting nature of these food vans makes Trinity Kitchen such an attractive prospect for return custom; the constraints of the human body means you can only eat so many meals per sitting (trust me, I’ve done extensive research), so you have two choices: Come back next week and try what you couldn’t make room for this time, or miss out FOREVER*.
*or until they return by popular demand in a couple of months.
It’s also a food-bloggers wet dream to have five trendy new street-food vans on your doorstep every month, and this is where I come in. I mentioned return custom earlier on, and this article is a combined account of two visits, both in the past week.
It’s admirable when a chef is so passionate about a dish that they dedicate their entire establishment to serving it. And it’s especially admirable when they take that dish and put it inside a brioche bun, so Yu Kyu was a no-brainer first destination. Katsu is a pretty simple dish; a fillet of chicken or pork, deep fried in panko breadcrumbs and usually served with sticky rice and a mild curry sauce. It’s the kind of introductory Japanese food that your Dad feels safe ordering when you drag him to Wagamamas on your birthday, the sweet curry sauce comforting him while he sits incredulously on a bench next to a complete stranger who’s eating soup with a ladle. You wouldn’t get this in a Harvester.
Being such a simple dish it’s hard to imagine anybody getting it wrong, but some charlatans manage. I’ve eaten katsu curry before which, when broken down to the sum of its parts, has amounted to a big chicken nugget with chip shop curry sauce on top. This obviously isn’t the case at Yu Kyu though. The Pork Katsu Sandwich (£6) was great; the meat was tender without being greasy, the panko was obviously freshly cooked and really crispy, and the katsu sauce and shredded cabbage provided the twin dichotomy of sweet, sharp, soft and crunchy. My main concern was that the sandwich might be a little stodgy when piled into a brioche, but I needn’t have worried; some of the sauce and juices were absorbed into the bun, but each element of the sandwich was easily distinguishable in flavour and texture. Confident in the brioche as a suitable method of transferring katsu from my table to my gob, we tried the Chicken Katsu Curry Sandwich (£6.5), which handled the job similarly well, despite having a good dollop of katsu curry sauce to contend with as well.
The only non-katsu item on the menu was the Glazed Sweet Potato Chips Mix (£3.5) which was a portion of sweet potato fries and regular fries, with what I think i identified as a soy sauce/brown sugar glaze, and topped with sesame seeds and spring onions. The sweet potato chips were as ever, a pretty flimsy affair, but the regular fries were firm and crispy, and the glaze had a deeply satisfying, molasses-esque flavour to it.
Next up was Manjit’s Kitchen, by now a veteran of Trinity Kitchen having been invited back several times to serve up authentic, vegetarian Indian food. Manjit’s is also the most frequently-photographed van on my Instagram feed, which is quite the accolade when you consider most of the people I follow are trendy food-snobs. If I wasn’t cart-hopping then I could happily have ordered everything from the menu and had a small banquet, but I settled on the dish that I’d seen the most praise lavished upon; the Chilli Paneer Wrap (£6). The wrap itself was compact but absolutely overflowing with fillings and flavours; the coriander and turmeric made it taste fragrant and robust, while the heat from the chilli gave it a kick, but wasn’t overpowering in the grand scheme of things. Inside the roti – aside from the generous chunks of Paneer which I believe were cooked in a tandoor oven – was an indeterminable mix of pulses and lentils which made this a really substantial, satisfying eat. Before we’d even finished the wrap, we were arranging how soon we could return Manjit’s and try the rest of the menu.
I’ve saved greasy-spoon-turned-burger-joint Original Fry Up Material until last to give me more chance to think of other puns on The Streets songs to pepper the paragraph with, but at the time of writing I’ve come up with absolutely nothing. The OFM guys have come up the M1 to give Leeds a much needed taste of the dirty-burger war going on down in London. Cooked right in front of you, the burgers start life as a sphere of meat and fat, pressed onto the griddle until just under an inch thick and medium rare, then served on a shiny glazed brioche. We ate the Bacon Blue Burger (£7.5) which as you can probably imagine contained bacon and blue cheese, as well as the usual bed of shredded lettuce, cheese, and burger sauce. The bacon was thick cut and well-cooked without being brittle, and the blue cheese was subtle; comparable to a sauce you’d get as an accompaniment to hot wings rather than the usual slab of unmelted roquefort that usually lies dormant in a blue-cheese burger.
A lot of restaurants ignore the fundamentals of burgers – a good quality patty and an understanding of the mechanics of burger construction – and place misguided emphasis on gimmicks and unnecessary extras which make the actual burger element a distant memory until you uncover it in the inevitable knife and fork post-mortem because you can’t fit it in your mouth. The fact that extras take a backseat in the mix of flavours here shows that OFM has a lot of confidence in their product, and so they should. This is as good a burger as you’re likely to get in Leeds, don’t miss it! Oh yeah, and Try the Fries, Mate.
Yu Kyu, Manjit’s Kitchen and Original Fry Up Material will be at Trinity Kitchen until February 23rd. Which food vans would you like to see take up residence there in the future?