Belgrave Street Feast 4 Round-Up


If both of the people who read my blog were paying special attention last month, they would have noticed that I neglected to review Belgrave’s March Street Feast.  This wasn’t because I forgot about it, or due to a lack of dedication to the cause – rather I had become a victim of its success.

When I got there at 4pm, it was the busiest I’ve ever seen the venue; a 20-foot blockade of people queueing up for the last morsels from Papa Ganoush gave the game away as soon as I arrived, so after penetrating their forcefield and realising that all of the visitors had sold out of everything, I got a few tinnies from the bar; a burger from Patty Smiths (which in the month since first trying them had come on leaps and bounds, and is now probably the best burger you can get in town), and watched Matilda with some kids.
As enjoyable as it was, I can’t run a moderately successful food blog by drinking lager and trying to contact OFSTED to perform an emergency inspection on Miss Trunchbull, so this time I made sure I’d have something to write about.
Initial research had suggested that Arepa!Arepa!Arepa! were my priority – Jules and Bailey run one of my favourite food blogs Good Gobble as well as this Arepa stall, and I respect that they get their hands dirty and create something as well – it adds a kind of legitimacy and credibility to their criticism that you just don’t get at other blogs such as this one.
I went for a Sobrebarriga (£4), which is a Steak and Beer Arepa, which is actually what I chickened out and asked for.  And I’m pretty sure I even pronounced that wrong.  I was given a big handful of beery, spicy, tender, stringy beef and vegetables inside a fresh grilled maize Arepa – essentially a portable stew inside a dumpling – and it was awesome.  
I stood around for a few minutes waiting for a friend before I started eating it, and by the time I’d finished extracting all the beef with my fork (I wasn’t going to risk gravy-beard by eating it with my hands and face) the arepa underneath was saturated with beery gravy, so I was able to relive the former glory again.  The parts of the dough which hadn’t been imbued with juice were surprisingly light and had a satisfying crust where it had just been fried.
Also from A!A!A! was the Plantano Y Queso (£3) which was a dish of fried plantain with cheese, and a choice of Guava jam or a savoury option – which escapes my memory at the minute – on top.  I went for the Guava jam, which was almost unbearably sweet, but balanced against the sharpness of the cheddar worked perfectly.  I have to commend the choice of cheddar – it would have been easy to try and truss the dish up with some kind of posh cheese, but keeping it simple really benefits the dish.  I remember by Mum telling me that my uncle used to eat cheese and jam sandwiches when he was a kid and I would grimace – in the days before chicken and waffles and donut burgers, I thought this mixture of sweet and savoury was an abomination – but having eaten pretty much that, slathered on plantain, I now see that I was a narrow-minded idiot, and he was somewhat of a visionary.  So well done Uncle Clive.
Top marks to Arepa!Arepa!Arepa! as well, can’t wait to try them again.
Regulars Fish& were upstairs in the snug with their ever-adapting menu this time offering Beach Burgers (£5) – pan-seared cod, caper and parsley patties, then cooked in a spicy tomato sauce.  This had a lot of flavour for something with such a simple list of ingredients.  I usually find cod kind of bland, but in this case it complimented the rest of the flavours, as well as contributing its own distinct – almost smoked – fishy hint (I’m pretty sure I’ve seen “Fishy Hint” on a gig listing).
I’m a self-confessed seafood novice – when I look at a menu in a restaurant, I pay such little notice to the fish options that they might as well have been blacked out by the Ministry of Truth – but I find myself going back to Fish& again and again whenever I see them at an event, excited to see what they’ve managed to come up with each time.
Next door to Fish& was Taco Wall, the first installment of Belgrave’s Street Food Lab, pressing fresh corn tortillas, and serving them up as Fish Tacos (£3.5).  I thought it could do with a little tweaking – I thought there was a too much batter on the fish, considering the size of the taco – but everything else about it; the presentation; the pineapple salsa; the scotch bonnet and grapefruit sauce, proves that they know what they’re doing.  This was only the first time serving to the public, I’m confident they’ll have nailed it by the time I try it again.
The Street Food Lab itself seems like a brilliant idea, I’m a little unclear on the specifics of how it’ll work, but if it means more in-house vendors are going to join Dough Boys, Patty Smiths, Fu-Schnickens and now Taco Wall, then I’m massively in favour of it.
A few weeks ago I went to the Briggate World Food Fair and intended to eat loads and write a round-up of the day.  I didn’t manage to get an article out of it though, as after I tried Street Fodder‘s Thai Food, it started raining so I just grabbed a bag full of cakes from Madeleine Express and went home.  Both traders were at the Street Feast on Saturday (Madeleine Express going by the alias Noisette Bakehouse), and while I didn’t get anything from them then, I’ll quickly mention that Street Fodder’s Summer Rolls and Chicken Satay are some of the best I’ve had in Leeds, and the fact anything as wildly imaginative as Noisette’s creations taste as amazing as Noisette’s creations is a miracle – and there’s not a lame cupcake or lazy buttercream in sight.
The day after Street Feast 4, Belgrave hosted a Game of Thrones quiz, which I took part in – not because I wanted to win, because I didn’t even want to win, I’m glad I didn’t win and I’m not even bitter so shut up – so I had a reason to try the Game of Thrones-themed food tie-ins.  Dough Boys Slice and Fire (£1.4 before 7pm, THAT OFFER IS STILL CRAZY TO ME) featured black pudding and pork belly with chilli apple jam and fresh sage leaves, and tasted like a £22.95 Gastropub meal wrapped inside dough.
Patty Smiths avenged Bobby Baratheon by topping their Valar Morghulis burger with Wild Boar sausage, then dialling-up the exuberance by piling on braised oxtail, bearnaise sauce, and a big pile of crispy shredded leeks.  I hope you’re sitting down for this, because it’s a big statement:  It was the best speciality burger I’ve ever had.  Ok joint-best with Patty & Bun‘s pork-belly and teriyaki smothered Mr Miyagi, but that’s still super-high praise, especially as they’ve only been in the game for two months.

Trinity Kitchen April Round-Up


Unless you’re the type of anarchist who works their way around Trinity Kitchen in an anti-clockwise fashion, Rolawala (@rolawala) is the first point of contact with this month’s vendors – and it’s a very strong start.

They’ve brought with them a small selection from their usual menu of Indian Streetfood – Coriander Chicken Tikka and Beetroot and Paneer Daal – served wrapped in a naan, and they’re not coy about letting you see it.  A towering inferno at the side of the stall grills the chicken after it’s been prepared and marinated over the course of an impressive 48 hours, and the rest of the fillings are piled high on their front counter where the wrap is lovingly constructed to your specifications – like Subway, except the finished product doesn’t taste like honey and rubber.

I tried a wrap with a bit of everything in (£7.5) which included a liberal sprinkling of Moruga Scorpion chilli powder, a substance which was housed in an unassuming salt shaker that commanded the kind of fearful reverence usually reserved for militant despots, unhinged South American cartel bosses or King Joffrey.

Luckily the tyrant-powder complimented the rest of the flavours rather than performing a coup d’etat, and allowed room for the sweet beetroot, warmly spiced chicken and tangy pickles to make themselves known.  The naan bread itself was good too – while it could easily have taken the back seat and performed a purely functional role, it has the flavour and texture of the best kind of pizza base, with charred patches, chewy bits and air bubbles really adding to the dish as a whole.

The guys insisted that I try their chilli ice cream as well (Not that I put up much of a fight) – homemade mango and coconut ice cream with a kick of the Moruga Scorpion chilli powder.  I’d become accustomed to the heat by this point so I thought it could have done with a bit more of the chilli powder, but the mango and coconut flavours were great, and made for a really well thought out palate cleanser.

Housed in the most elaborately decorated cart I’ve ever seen food served from, Fresh Rootz (@FreshRootzLeam) definitely make an immediate impression.  Before you get close enough to read the menu, you can almost guess the kind of thing Martin and Andrew serve up –  a menu of authentic world food inspired by their exotic travels, rather than the cuisine of their indigenous Leamington.

While Fresh Rootz started to fulfill a need for decent vegetarian/vegan street food, it seems misleading to define it solely as a vegetarian restaurant.  All of the meals are well-considered, hearty and tasty, they don’t feel like dishes that have had anything removed or substituted to fit any criteria; they are what they are, and it’s a happy bonus that they’re meat-free and healthy as well.

I tried the Gambian Style Groundnut Stew (£6) which was served with cous cous and slaw, and a few of their pakora on top, for research purposes.  The food was piled really high, but the variety of flavours and textures – the four main components of the dish along with sweet chilli, yoghurt dip, black sesame and crushed nuts – made it interesting and exciting all the way through.

There was 6 or 7 types of vegetables in the stew itself, and each one was distinguishable and cooked just the right amount – the cous cous was light and airy, the slaw crunchy and tart, and the pakora surprisingly crispy and fresh, some of the best I remember tasting.

Set up in a very different, but equally impressive creation were returning members of the December Alumni Bang Wok (@BangWokThai) – with huge pans of curries set up on oil barrels to make the stall resemble a steel drum circle.  

I tried A Bit of Everything (£7) when they were last here, and while I can’t remember exactly what dishes were on off then, I remember enjoying it.  On this occasion though, after eating an Indian wrap and a Gambian curried stew, I had to pass on yet more curry; in fact I worked it out, and of the 12 main courses available this month – or at least when I visited – 9 of them were a variation of a curry.  The rotation of vendors is usually formulaic – which is fine as at least there’s a breadth of variety to the offerings – but to feature three stalls serving up a similar type of main course is more than a little disappointing.  That’s not to criticise any of the individual vendors though, as I enjoyed everything I ate without exception, it would just be nice to get to enjoy them all over the course of several months, rather than all at the same time.
If curry’s not your thing, then Happy Maki (@TheHappyMaki) offers their take on Maki Sushi rolls, filled with Hoisin Duck, Thai Sweet Potato or Teriyaki chicken as opposed to the usual fish.  This is a conscious decision by the owner Anna both in an attempt to do her bit to stem the depletion of the Ocean’s resources, and out of frustration at the limited selection of fish available in the UK.  An admirable stand to make, and one which also makes her sushi appealing to an audience who would usually be put off by the thought of eating raw fish.  I’ll be giving them a full write-up in the upcoming weeks when I’ve had a chance to try them properly; judging by the sheer number of customers they were serving though, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed.

Rounding out the line-up and filling the token “something sweet” slot this month is Cake Doctor (@CakeDoctorUK) – a heartwarming Son-and-Mother team from the Midlands, baking and distributing cakes with a distinctly home-made feel from an old ambulance.  Usually my standpoint when it comes to cakes is a firm “Not arsed mate” – I’m a sucker for a loaf or cheesecake, but I find things filled with and covered in buttercream prohibitively sweet, and don’t even get me started on cupcakes.

While I was worried that several of my teeth might fall out just from looking at James’ saccharine creations, I had to try a slice of Coffee & Walnut Cake (£2.5) when I noticed it was made with one of my favourite coffee blends – Dark Arches from Leeds Microroasters North Star.  The pedigree of the coffee used was evident, giving the sponge a light yet complex flavour, as if you were eating a spongey espresso.  I’d have preferred it as a loaf without so much buttercream but that’s down to personal preference – I guess I’m just sweet enough as it is.

Have you tried Trinity Kitchen this month yet?  Let me know what you thought of the new selection either in the comments or on Twitter.

Trinity Kitchen March Round-Up


And so – as sure as the changing of the seasons – Sunday saw the imposing arm of the Trinity’s crane reach in and pluck out the current crop of food vans from Trinity Kitchen; the burger one, the Japanese one, the ethnic one, and the sweet ones.

The crane is a merciful deity though, and what it takes with one hand, it gives back with another.  Our old familiar friends were replaced by fresh new faces; a burger one, Japanese ones, an ethnic one, and a sweet one.
I was invited to Trinity Kitchen on Tuesday evening for an introduction to our new pals.

Harajuku Kitchen
Bringing Tokyo streetfood to Leeds via Scotland, Harajuku Kitchen’s small menu offers a bit of the usual – Gyoza and Miso Soup – as well as something more exotic.

The Okonomiyaki (£3/£5) was billed on the extended menu as “Japanese savoury pancake pizza”, which is a very broad way of saying it’s a pancake with stuff on top of it.

The pancake itself was almost an inch thick, with an eggy batter similar to an omelette binding together shredded cabbage, spring onion and other vegetables.  I described it more as a Japanese take on Bubble & Squeak, which I stand by, but they seemed apprehensive to accept the comparison, which I did intend as a compliment.

The pancake was topped with okinomiyaki sauce, wasabi mayo, nori, tuna flakes and coriander, which all complimented the flavour of the pancake very well.  At several points while I was eating it, I was reminded of the sweet bread buns from McDonalds (Again, a compliment!), which I’ll attribute to the seasoning in the pancake and the okinomiyaki sauce.  
The dish is a bit of a polarising one as it’s not directly comparable to anything you’re likely to have eaten before, but I’d highly recommend giving it a go.
As well as the okinomiyaki (I’m getting really quick at typing that now), we shared 4 Vegetable Gyoza (£3.5) which were very nice.  They’re served lightly fried rather than steamed, and come with a sauce which tastes pickled and earthy at the same time.  (I didn’t get a picture of them I’m afraid)

Harajuku Kitchen is just one of the carts repping the JP this month; Dorshi sits on the very next plot selling similar Japanese influenced street food with twists characteristic of their Dorset roots – the Godzilla to Harajuku’s Gojira.  How’s that for a culturally-aware analogy?!  I spoil you guys
These South Coast idiosyncrasies come in the form of regional ingredients – their Pork Dumpling (£4) combines Black Pudding with the pork to give a really rich, satisfying meaty flavour – like the nicest posh sausage roll you’ve ever tasted.  Its form-factor elevates it above the sausage roll though – the dumpling was steamed perfectly throughout, cooked enough to eliminate any doughy-ness, but still with a satisfying bite.  No flakey pastry stuck in my beard here.
I’m intrigued to try their usual combination of Pork and Dorset Blue Vinney cheese, hopefully at some point in their Trinity residency they’ll decide Leeds can handle it and put it on the menu.
Seeing as the person who served me was really enthusiastic about them, I should quickly mention the condiments they offer.  The sriracha didn’t have the same deep red hue that you see in bottled variations which leads me to believe they might make their own.  I also tried the Kewpie Mayo on the recommendation that “It’s like crack” (I haven’t really got a point of reference for that, but it was very good mayonnaise).  It’s encouraging to see so much enthusiasm about even the small things.
Also on the menu was Kara-Age (£4), which takes the Japanese dish and adds the Western indulgence of a buttermilk-soaking before cooking and Fried “Rice” (£4/2 for £6.5/all 3 for £8.5) which was in fact pearl barley cooked in mushroom stock and served with 5 vegetables.  
I didn’t try either of these dishes in an attempt to try as many different places as possible, but based on how good the dumplings were, I’m going to go back and eat everything they make, and will ever make until the end of time.  These were really very good dumplings.

Travelling the shortest distance to be here this month is Cafe Moor – a North African/Middle Eastern vendor usually operating from Kirkgate Market.  This used to be my usual lunch-break haunt when I worked in town a few years ago, so I’m really glad to see it get such great exposure.
I didn’t eat anything from there last night in the interest of reserving tummy-space for new things, but every time I’ve eaten there in the past it’s been brilliant and very good value for money.  They’re also not shy of putting their money where their mouth is; proudly displaying their food on vast, impressive platters to tempt customers and show others what they’re missing.

And it seemed to be working, in the few hours I was there, Cafe Moor looked like the most consistently stall in the place.  I’ll be back within the month to get a few treats and do a separate article to do the place justice.

If you’ve read this blog before – or seen me in person, breathlessly tackling an escalator – you’ll know that I’m part of the burger-loving demographic (Which makes up roughly 100% of the population), so imagine my delight when I found out that the Meatwagon was coming to Trinity Kitchen.
For the uninitiated, Meatwagon is the mobile branch of the MEATliquor franchise; its cult, off-Oxford Street restaurant considered by many to serve the best burgers in London.  It’s recently emerged that MEATliquor is going to be branching out to Leeds, with the Meatwagon serving to test the water before a restaurant opens in the Summer.
I ordered the Dead Hippie (£8) which contained two mustard-fried patties, cheese, minced onion, and Hippie sauce.
Apparently they bake their own sour-dough buns in the restaurants, but I couldn’t tell if that’s what I received here – by the time it made its 20ft journey to my table, it resembled that McDonalds cheeseburger that you wake up to in your pocket after a night out – and it was indistinguishable from a family BBQ bread roll.  It was light though, and thin enough to suggest that its only purpose was to prevent the holders fingers getting too juicy.
That wasn’t to suggest I made it through the burger with clean hands though.  The succulent, tasty patties cooked just as I like them, with piquante contrast from the mustard-mayo Hippie Sauce and chunky pickles.  I was dripping juices with all the grace and dignity of Brucey Bogtrotter taking on Miss Trunchbull’s chocolate cake; passers-by were gasping, infants were bursting into tears, chaste young women were obstructing their gaze with a hand-fan (probably), and I didn’t give half a shit.  This burger was very good.
The jury’s still out on whether this is an £8 burger though.  It comes in at a couple of quid more expensive than the competition, but in its defence it does come with 2 patties as standard.  Perhaps it would be better to give the option of a single patty version for £6-£6.5, god knows there’s space on their menu…
That’s the menu: Two choices.  Meat or no meat.  No sides, no fries, no customisation options.  And after talking to the manager to get some more information for this review, I found out they’re also got no manners; I was met with hostility when I asked what cuts of meat they used, and the only answer I could get from them was “Mince”.
Naturally I took to My despondency to Twitter, and In fairness MEATliquor did contact me and ask for more information on my exchange with the manager, so maybe they’ll be able to respond with an explanation.  Nonetheless, it was really disappointing to encounter this kind of attitude, and really sticks out when compared to other business-owners who are deeply passionate about their food.
UPDATE 28/02: Since my visit I was contacted by MEATliquor and invited to go and meet an area manager for a chat in person. They assured me that it was a one-off and put it down to teething issues, which I’m willing to give them a pass for.  The person I met with was happy to talk about the food and the business, showing the kind of genuine passion and enthusiasm that I expected in the first place. All is well again.
Love Rouge Bakery

Another case of a local business getting much-deserved exposure, Love Rouge has upped sticks from their Headingley bakery-slash-cafe to become this month’s dedicated Trinity cake-dealer.
I don’t usually have a sweet tooth and usually avoid desserts all together, but I’ve got a special place in my heart (and in the walls of my arteries) for Carrot Cake (£2.5), likewise my other half with anything salted caramel, so she went for the Chocolate & Salted Caramel Slice (£2.5)
Both were well baked and moist, with a nice bit of crunch on the edges for variety.  The slices are pretty huge for £2.50 so you get great value for money.  If there was any criticism though, the salted caramel was a bit under-represented in the topping-to-cake ratio.
And there you have it.  I hope you think of me and this round-up when you find yourself circling Trinity Kitchen, trying to make your mind up at any point in the next month.  Just make sure you don’t trip over my guide-ropes when I’m camped up outside Dorshi.
Full disclosure: The burger from Meatwagon was complimentary of Trinity Kitchen, but this didn’t influence my opinion of any of the food.

Street Feast at Belgrave Music Hall Round-Up


Since opening last October, Belgrave Music Hall has earned a reputation for its food; a couple of hole-in-the-wall kitchens bookend the bar, dispensing relaxed, social media-friendly street food with the added benefit of having a roof over your head.  Bearing in mind these credentials it was only a matter of time until they hosted a food event, and of course chubs over here was in there like a whippet.

We arrived there just after midday and the place was already busy – trendy Dads with three-wheeled pushchairs lingering after brunch, eager food bloggers, and regular daytime drunks; myself being a combination of the last two.  I recovered from the devastating realisation that Ilkley Mary Jane wasn’t on draught any more, settled for a pint of Saltaire Blonde (Not a bad substitute), squeezed onto a bench and started strategizing how to eat as much as possible.
I’m not nosey or anything, but when you’re sharing a bench with strangers you can’t help but eavesdrop, which in this case helped me decide to start at Fu Schnickens (A brief tangent about the name: I’m as down with obscure-ish early-90s rap as the next guy, but I can’t work out the connection to Taiwanese street food.  I bet I’ll kick myself when I realise).  Fu Schnickens is in the business of serving up Guo Bao (£3.5 or 2 for £5)- steamed buns containing a choice of pork belly, panko chicken or glazed portabello mushroom.  I went for the pork belly and chicken options, I’m sure as far as mushrooms go the portabello was wonderful, but I ain’t about that life.  After the buns were steamed and the meat was fried to order, they were meticulously assembled along with pickled cabbage, sesame, cashew nuts and sriracha sauce.  Ben (I think his name was Ben) told me that they’ve had to cease manufacture at one of the main sriracha factories because local residents were complaining about the chilli smell, talk about ungrateful.  Having given up my seat to go and collect my order, I relocated to the roof terrace and spread my buns out on a picnic bench, just like your Mum does.

The chicken Guo Bao was great – the chicken was juicy, the chilli panko packed a real crispiness which contrasted well with the stickiness of the steamed dough, and Ben’s delicate touch with the sriracha and Japanese mayo (which I should have asked for more information about) proved to be just the right amount.

As good as the chicken bun was, nothing could have prepared me for what was to follow: probably the best pork belly I’ve ever eaten, and plenty of it.  The buns weren’t small, and the slab of pork belly was sticking out either end of it.  A lot of the fat had been rendered down and formed a chewy, caramelised crust on the edge, complimented beautifully by the hoisin sauce, and pickled cabbage and coriander was on hand to stop things becoming too rich, and I could happily have eaten a dozen of these.  Luckily Fu Schnickens is a new resident at Belgrave, and will be serving Guo Bao from Patty Smiths burger kitchen on the regs.

After I finished gushing we went to the bar again, I got a Five Points Pale Ale and my friend went to Bundobust to order the Pav Bhaji (£6) I didn’t have chance to get a photo of his meal because he shoved his mitts straight into the box as soon as it was handed to him, and he’d finished half of it by the time we got a seat again.  I managed to nick a bit though and I don’t blame him, the depth of flavour was something else, very warm and rich and spicy, with a really well-considered combination of spices.  I also tried a bit of his Bundo Chaat (£4) which was a nice, almost sweet accompaniment to the rich and spicy main, with fragrant cumin and tamarind, cool yoghurt and crisp layers of samosa pastry interspersing the chick peas.  Having treaded the boards of food pop-ups, Bundobust will soon have a home to call their own on Mill Hill, just behind Friends of Ham.

Shortly after this point I grabbed a slice of Silvio (£2, or £1 before 7pm) from Dough Boys and took a quick jaunt to town – having realised Valentines Day is approaching and I hadn’t made any of the necessary preparations.  I returned from Poundland to find Belgrave even busier than before, pitched up next to some more strangers, and ordered a Dirty Burger (£4.5 or £6 with chips) from Patty Smith’s.

Apologies for the crap photo – it was getting dark in there by this point – but you can see the type of burger you’re getting here: Shiny, dripping and compact with no gimmicks.  The patty is a generous size and the tangy chipotle mayo cuts through really nicely, if I had to offer any criticism, it would be that the lettuce (Little gem I think, which added an unneeded bitterness to the flavour of the burger) wasn’t shredded, so the juices from the burger and the tomato (also not needed, but that’s a matter of preference, not a dealbreaker) slid right off and got absorbed into the brioche bun, making it soggy and structurally unsound.  For £4.50 though it’s miles ahead of anything else in its price range, and for another £1.50 you get a big portion of hand-cut, skin-on, twice (thrice?)-cooked chips, which were extremely good.  Patty Smith’s has taken up residence in the far kitchen at Belgrave now, so go check them out.

While I was shoving all that into my gob, my friend had the Chilli Corn Chowder (£5) from Fish&, which was a huge portion, amusingly served in a hollowed out bread bowl.  This was also the case for the Brooklyn Lager Steamed Mussels (£4), which looked and smelt amazing, but I didn’t get chance to try.  In fact, I planned to come back on the Sunday and try offerings from the rest of the vendors, but being a genius I neglected to realise that the Street Feast was a one-day event, meaning I missed out on the amazing-looking Noisette Bakery too.  Hopefully they’ll be back at the next one on March 8th though, I will be.

What did you think to the Street Feast? Favourite pop-ups?  Who would you like to see there next time?  What’s the explanation behind Fu Schnickens name?! 

Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen on Urbanspoon

Trinity Kitchen Febuary Round-Up: Manjit’s, Yu Kyu & Original Fry Up Material


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?