Trinity Kitchen – 10 Highlights from the First Year

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It’s a common pop-cultural phenomenon for near-identical movies to come out at around the same time – I don’t just mean copycats which wear their plagiarism on their sleeve, but actual massive coincidences like Deep Impact and Armageddon, The Prestige and The Illusionist, Mean Girls and NOTHING, because Mean Girls is one of a damn kind.  But what about Sharks Tale and Antz coming out so close to Finding Nemo and Bugs Life?

It’s not just films – the current UK Top 40 contains no less than 39 songs that are about bums; or have videos with a tracking shot of somebody’s bum for 4 minutes; or come on a bum-shaped picture-disc which looks like the artists’ bum, and has an anus in the middle where you put the spindle.  Admittedly those 39 songs are more tasteful than the other charting record though, which has the misfortune of carrying Ed Sheeran’s face on the cover.

In October 2013 this phenomenon spread to food, and it was a good month for Leeds city centre.   Before you had chance to wipe the Dough Boys sauce off your face at the newly-opened Belgrave, Trinity Kitchen was opening just down the road – a new kind of food court which snubbed the typical “Fast Food-Fast Food-Harry Ramsdens-Spud U Like-Fast Food” roulette, ingrained in the DNA of shopping centres across the country.

Headed by Richard Johnson from British Street Food, TK hosts a changing line-up of street food vendors from around the country, lifting their Ambulances and Citroes vans in through the ceiling with a great big crane, and putting a roof over their head for a month at a time.  There are a few permanent residents as well, including Chicago Rib Shack, Burrito, Chip & Fish which give a bit of consistency to the place, and provide more familiar food to bring in big groups of people and make sure nobody goes hungry, regardless of how fussy an eater they are.
It isn’t completely without fault – there’s often a lot of overlap with several similar vendors on the same or consecutive months; line-ups can sometimes seem regimented and formulaic, I’ve worked out it’s usually 1 Meat, 1 Pan-Asian, 2 Spicy and a token Dessert; and I’m yet to meet the person who wants to be interrupted by a loud DJ set when they’re eating dinner, but the good far outweighs the bad.  Vendors are queuing up months in advance to reserve a pitch, the quietest I’ve ever seen it is “Contently buzzing”, and it’s given local businesses a lot of valuable exposure while bringing in new things that a local audience wouldn’t have discovered on their own – it’s a credit to the City, and Leeds is lucky we didn’t have to settle for a Subway and a sit-down Greggs.
Here are my highlights from the first 12 months, in no particular order:

1. Pho

Confession: For the first 3ish months of Trinity Kitchen, I didn’t bother any of the vans with my custom, and that’s because Pho was (and is) so good.  The freshest Vietnamese dishes of noodles, soups and salads served quicker than you’d imagine possible for around £20 for 2 people, including sides like fried squid and summer rolls.

Cafe Moor has been toiling away in Leeds for years, serving authentic and cheap Middle Eastern and North African food without any gimmicks or pretence from its 10am-5pm plot in Kirkgate Market.  It was wildly popular among a new audience in Trinity Kitchen and benefitted hugely form the exposure – they’re now in plans to expand on their market stall and open a restaurant in the City Centre.

3. Original Fry Up Material

So universally well received that they’ve found a second-home in Leeds, seemingly popping up at every other event, so keep an eye out for them.  Some nice dudes with a funny name, serving consistently good food – including the best version of a Blue Cheese burger I’ve eaten – and many would say the best burger there’s ever been at Trinity Kitchen, which might upset…

4. Meatwagon

One of the best things about Trinity Kitchen is discovering new businesses that you wouldn’t have usually crossed paths with.  Meatwagon’s arrival was a whole other game, everybody’s heard of them and the rumours that TK had got such a huge name created a lot of hype and genuine excitement.  As PR goes they didn’t get off to the best of starts (see the review), but it was handled well, and the visit turned out to be a successful preview of the new, very welcome MEATliquor restaurant just downstairs.

5. Dorshi

Meatwagon was good, but it wasn’t the main event in March, that title belongs to Dorshi – probably the best thing there’s ever been at Trinity.  They might be all-conquering award winners now, but I was gushing over their West Country, Southside UK take on Sushi before they were cool.  A certain fondness will always be reserved for them, for introducing me to Kewpie mayo.

6. Pembermans

If Ice Cube was at Trinity Kitchen on the first day that May’s traders opened up, he’d say “Fuck the Goodyear blimp, this is a good day”.  Pembermans might have looked like any other pulled-meat van, but their breakfast and lunch Bento boxes were something special.  There’s no round-up, or even any pictures from May because I was just too busy eating for the whole month.

7. Cheese Truck

This is what it’s all about.  Looking at all the previous Kitchen lineups I don’t think anybody would have anticipated something as original as a gourmet cheese toastie van, but anybody who heard about it, saw it, or ate anything from there lost their minds.  I’d love to see more risky choices like this in the future.

8. MeiMei’s Street Cart

The final pick from TK’s finest month, MeiMei’s brought Chinese street food like you’ve only heard about in blogs from places like London.  Comfort-dishes like sticky ribs and wings (the sauce from which relegated several top-tier t-shirts to the “stained loungewear” drawer), and their amazing signature Jian Bing; a savoury crepe filled with umami sauces, fresh salad, Pork, Duck and crispy wonton.

9. Rolawala

Another heartwarming success story:  Turning up in April and selling naan wraps filled with flame-grilled meat or vegetarian curries, Rolawala became one of the most popular visitors ever.  Fast forward to this week, and they’re preparing to open a permanent spot where Notes Cafe used to be.

10. Madeleine Express

Considering the insistence on having a token cake van every month, I had to include one sweet highlight.  Madeleine Express is far from a token choice though; also known as Noisette Bakehouse, Leeds’ local Sarah consistently comes up with incredible recipes combining non-conventional flavours and classic formats, as well as the very best versions of traditional favourites like Salted Caramel Brownies and (naturally) Cinnamon Madeleines.  All without a glob of buttercream icing or a twee sprinkle of edible-glitter in sight.

Trinity Kitchen April Round-Up

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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

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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.
Meatwagon

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.

Review: Pho Cafe, Trinity Kitchen

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Last week’s Trinity Kitchen round up focussed on the food vans which embrace us in a brief, adrenaline fuelled fling before leaving us again – exotic sailors on shore leave; rock stars swaggering into town for one night of their world tour; Danny Zucho at the beach at the start of Grease.

As exciting and brilliant as they are, and I must stress that the current crop are fantastic – to pretend Trinity Kitchen lives and dies by the appeal of these mysterious strangers would be unfair on the restaurants who are there all the time; consistent, reliable, and there for us when the cowboys ride their converted School-buses and Transit vans into the sunset, back to that London or wherever they’re from.
Today I’ll be reviewing Pho.
Likely to be the first thing you notice as you enter Trinity Kitchen is Pho – an island consisting of little more but a large, open plan kitchen where you can watch the chefs at work.  The menu specialises in Vietnamese street food such as soups, salads and noodles, and the fact that Pho’s de facto seating area consists of cantina-style long benches and bar stools suggests you’re here for a good time, not a long time.  We pitched up at one of the benches, and went to enquire about some of the menu items.
At the counter we got a briefing of the menu from Justina, who was very thorough, despite the jarring distraction of a DJ/Drummer ensemble not too far from the counter.  Being big fans of Thai food we had a pretty decent point of reference for most of the dishes, and went for a combination of the familiar, and things that we wouldn’t feel guilty about eating during our week of repenting for the weekends multitude of sins.

Noticing one of the workers throwing fruit into a juicing machine we decided to try a couple of fresh juices as well, to really trick ourselves into thinking we were detoxing: Super Green Juice (£2.95) containing Kale, Pineapple, Apple and (I think) Mint, and Apple, Beetroot & Carrot (£2.95) – No prizes for working out what went into them.  The super juice was the winner of the two, it somehow tasted really creamy, and not at all like cooked kale.

After just a few minutes our buzzer started jittering around the table and I went to retrieve them.  For starter we shared Vegetable Spring Rolls (£4.75) and Pork and Lemongrass Meatballs (£4.95).  The spring rolls were bigger than expected which seemed a bit daunting if you’re used to takeaway spring rolls filled with anonymous stodge, but these were really pleasantly light; wrapped in rice paper rather than pastry (So gluten free as well as lower in calories) they contained a mix of vegetables, glass noodles and herbs.

The meatballs were rich and well seasoned; each one a couple of mouthfuls in size, they were lightly crispy on the outside with a firm texture inside, similar to a Thai fish-cake.  Four spring rolls and five meatballs were 274 calories and 323 calories, respectively (Although these figures don’t include the incredible peanut dipping sauce that accompanied them)

For the main course I went for the Pho Xao, or Wok Fried Noodles with Tender Beef (£6.95).  The noodles were cooked perfectly with a nice bite to them, and the generous amount of beef which really was tender flavourful – it could have easily taken center stage in a roast dinner, never mind being hidden away among a forest of noodles.  I checked the nutritional info because I’m like that, and was impressed to see it just shy of 400 calories.

The other half had Ca-ri: Vietnamese Curry with Tiger Prawn (£8.95) which was similar to a Thai curry in the sense that it had a fragrant balance of herbs to compliment the heat of the chilli, but thicker and it seemed richer.  It was served with a dome of rice on the side so you could add as much or as little as you liked, with the whole dish amounting to just over 700 calories.

As well as our mains, we shared a Goi ngo sen, which I would never attempt to pronounce, preferring to pussy out and use the menu number “8”, or the informal Tangy Lotus Stem Salad (£4.95).

This was pure vegetables and protein, with shredded chicken and butterflied tiger prawns strewn over a bed of Green beans, carrots, and the titular lotus stems.  The salad provided a nice fresh palate-cleanser between chopstick-fuls of our mains, with a faint peppery taste similar to raw celery.  Being nothing but vegetables and white meat, the whole dish only added just under 200 calories to our grand total.

Overall we were both really impressed with the meal, we knew we would be as we’d been a few times before and loved it, but I had no idea that it was all so healthy.  Definitely a place I’ll be going back to.

Pho on Urbanspoon

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

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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?