Dorshi supper club @ Northern Monk Refectory

Dorshi, the street food traders who hail from Dorset’s Bridport, even though I think of them as Leeds’ very own now, held a two day supper club at Northern Monk Rectory earlier this week. Much to the popularity of this duo, what originally was a one night only affair, quickly became a two-dayer.

Dorshi are certainly no strangers to Leeds, the past year or so they’ve garnered a loyal fan base who’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for their food, especially their dumplings, all due to their first residency at Trinity Kitchen. They’d been back up North in between Trinity Kitchen stints for Veg Out and Beacons festival too, it’s like they were keeping people on a metaphorical leash – carrot and stick come to mind; I should know I’m one of them! 

So during their six week turn in Trinity this month, Dorshi held a pop up showcasing their take on Asian cuisine using local, sustainable ingredients where possible. We were to be treated to a five course experience (£30), from the menu their pearl barley sushi stood out as this is what Dorshi first became known for, and also their hand-torn noodles, with lots of elements in the mix it would be interesting to see how it would all come together.

Start – Fresh catch of the day ceviche (cod), lime, garlic tempura flakes, pickled chilli strands, crispy purple kale.

Sushi – Vinegared pearl barley, oak smoked rainbow trout, dill-caper puree, spicy salad leaves.

Noodles – Hand- torn spelt noodles, braised chashu, crispy juniper-bacon squares, pickled shiitake mushroom, charred sprouting leaves, kale crisps, slow-poached egg, slow cooked dried chilli, grated black garlic, accompanied with a bowl of bacon-mirin dashi.

Jelly – Bergamot & Black Cow Vodka Jelly.

Tea – Birdhouse Sencha Tea and Black Sesame & Almond Squares.

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It was a great evening with lots of chat, one thing I love about supper clubs is that everyone who goes has bothered to buy a ticket, because they’re really into good food!

A real labour of love for Dorshi, after all the meticulous preparation, during service some dishes came to fruition just before serving, e.g. sushi rolls were assembled just before they were brought out!

I enjoyed every course, they were interesting and each had their own talking points. The hand-torn noodles was the star of the night, every element had its own place and identity in the dish, coming with diverse tastes, textures and temperatures. The accompanying bacon-mirin dashi was a winner too, the Japanese staple providing a savoury umami hit. Dorshi’s take on sushi, I loved! For me, the barley makes it really light and a great alternative, I may even have a go at making some at home with barley instead of rice now.

Also all of this was in the lovely Northern Monk Refectory, usually the stomping ground of The Grub & Grog Shop, it’s a great space and came with the perfect ambience and atmosphere for this type of event. I must add, just because I love them, it’s excellent any time of day because the The Grub & Grog Shop team do should a fantastic job too, and as I type I really want one of their bacon breakfast buns!!

http://dorshi.co.uk

http://www.grubandgrog.co.uk

http://www.northernmonkbrewco.com/the-refectory

Bullwinkles pop up @ Belgrave

Ok, do you remember earlier this year, I’d put out a snippet on ‘What would you like to eat in Leeds in 2015?’ – my thoughts made a bee-line for Poutine, the Canadian dish that’s a heady concoction of chips, cheese curds and gravy. Trying it for the first time on holiday last year, I’d really built up a craving for the stuff and had hankered for our next encounter. So reading that Belgrave’s development team Food Lab were trying their hand at Poutine I very nearly rejoiced, I’m not quite that way inclined, but I definitely whooped for joy at the mere thought! Ben Davy’s Food Lab’s last outing was many months ago I think, I maybe wrong, please correct me if I am! I remember the early days in Belgrave Feast they sold fish tacos to Leeds folk, so I guess this was an opportunity to try new things, develop their repertoire, as well as get punters in!

Rocking up on Wednesday at 6pm, it seemed many others all had the same craving, as the Belgrave seemed busier than normal; I suppose that was partly the point?!

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Expecting a queue to quickly form, I slid into the front of the queue, a quick squiz at the board gave three options, their classic take on poutine, which could be pimped up with extras in the form of tea-brined fried chicken and smoked bacon. Being a complete glutton and easily swayed I went for everything, it would’ve been rude not too, don’t you think?!

Now, speaking to those who maybe unfamiliar with Poutine, it can have a number of different toppings, e.g. chicken, but primarily it has three core elements. One of them, the cheese curds had been substituted with mozzarella though as cheese curds couldn’t be sourced.

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So, how was it…..?

Chips – basically awesome, Belgrave regulars know how good they are, I’ve used many minutes of my life banging on about them!

Cheese – ah, now for me, it’s the cheese curds that really do it, so it was a shame they were absent, as the characteristic saltiness and squeakiness was missing, but on taste it was still good, you know who doesn’t like stringy cheesy chips with gravy?!

Gravy – peppery and tasty, lighter in appearance and looser in viscosity than traditional poutine gravy, but I liked that it wasn’t as heavy.

The addition of fried chicken that was juicy, golden, perfectly crisp, and a generous sprinkle of smoked, salty bacon the combination, albeit minus the cheese curds was still a winner! (£6) Considering it was their first outing, it was pretty damn tasty, hey it may not have been an authentic poutine, but as always Ben Davy always works wonders with his own twist.

Food Lab are bringing out special pop ups fortnightly, with the likes of the humble lobster roll, steak and chips, and Fu-Schnikens Ramen, which I’m determined to get my hands on this time after missing out a couple of weeks ago! I’m hoping the broth is awesome so I can slurp away with the best of them!

Belgrave Music Hall

1A Cross Belgrave Street
Leeds
West Yorkshire
LS2 8JP
 
0113 234 6160

Caravanserai, Leeds

You may have read a couple of weeks ago when my lame attempt at trying out Caravanserai was thwarted by Friends of Ham and that tasty Raclette!! Well it was still on my to visit list, so I made it my mission to go, this time with no diversions!!!

As a member of the Grubstakers I was invited to visit Caravanserai one evening and get the whole experience. I’d seen from street level the transformation of the building over the last few months, from its previous guise as Kitschen to its new look as an Ottoman street food venue. Its name inspired by the Caravanserai which would serve passers-by, travellers who were need of food and watering whilst on their travels.

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Now many people know of Cafe Moor in Kirkgate Market and Moorish in Hyde Park, fallen in love with food like their chicken shawarma and falafel, well this is owner Kada’s newest venture. Found just off the main drag, around the side of the Corn Exchange, its hard to imagine being right in the middle of the city centre as it really seemed a world away. The downstairs kitchen can be seen from its street level hatch making it ideal for takeaways, but with the added extra of its upstairs private function room, it’s a great space for meetings. 

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We were treated to lots of refreshing mint tea, then brought a mini feast to work our way through –  their popular sandwiches, made with their delicious Lebanese bread, a falafel option for vegetarians and a delicious marinated lamb for meat lovers. There were dips, tabbouleh salad and that gorgeous Lebanese bread to mop it all up with. If that wasn’t enough a generous platter of chargrilled marinated chicken and other delights also came our way. All was spot on and mouthwateringly good!!

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It’s a great place to relax, to meet friends for business or pleasure and enjoy fantastic food that’s perfect for sharing! With a menu that more than caters for both meat lovers and vegetarians, it has the same charm as Cafe Moor in Kirkgate Market, but with the bonus of its upstairs dining area. It’s definitely well worth a visit to two!!

Caravanserai

1 Crown Street

Leeds

LS2 7DA

0113 234 1999

https://www.facebook.com/CaravanseraiLeeds?fref=ts

Dumpling Making Workshop!

Dumplings!!! Dumplings feature in so many different cuisines around the world and certainly take up a prominent place in Chinese food. Made in virtually every household, as a child I was taught by my mother to make them and it’s something I still do as it’s pretty straight forward and within a short space of time a tasty snack (or meal if you’re hungry) can be prepared, cooked and eaten!     

So when my friend mentioned a dumpling making workshop to coincide with Chinese New Year at Leeds University, I booked my place and turned up on Wednesday evening with lots of other dumpling fans. Organised by The Business Confucius Institute a non-profit public institution, the event was fully booked and a fun way of meeting new people with a common interest. 

We were there to make Jiaozi, the classic dumpling, which common dim sum staple and definitely eaten during Chinese New Year. 2015 is the Year of the Sheep, beginning on the 19th February, the first day of the Lunar calendar and ending with the Lantern festival on the 15th day.

I’d never made my own wrappers using flour and water for Jiaozi before, the dumplings we made at home were more like ha gau, the steamed translucent dumplings using wheat starch. After a quick tutorial and a few tips and hints we were given the task of making our dumplings by either rolling out fresh wrappers or using pre-made gyoza wrappers.

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I thought I’d have a go at rolling some fresh ones, out, my mother would probably have chuckled watching me have a go at it. The rolling and folding was so skilful, but they made it look so easy. I was definitely out of practise and my first few attempts looked shocking! 

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I kept at it, and slowly improved with help from the assistants, and with the whole class getting to work we quickly made enough for the first few batches to be cooked up, and then came the best bit; we could try out the fruits of our labour. Cooked two ways; steamed fried (pot sticker style) or boiled. My favourite were probably the fried ones, but they were both pretty tasty.

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We’d made so many we were able to leave with takeaway! It was such a great way of meeting new people, all with the same love of dumplings! With Chinese New Year starting on the 19th, I have no excuse not to make dumplings now!

Chinese New Year 2015

The year 2015 is the Chinese Year of the Sheep, Goat or Ram (depending on where you may be) and is celebrated for 16 days, beginning on the 19th February. Chinese New Year is a huge deal in the Chinese community and is celebrated with a number of cultural events, a stand out highlight is also the eating and drinking that goes hand in hand with the festivities. Therefore dining out at one of your favourite Chinese restaurants with friends and family is definitely one of the best things to do at this time of year!!

If you fancy going out for a bite to eat, Leeds has a number of choices to suit tastes and pockets in and around the city centre:

Maxis  

Oriental City  

Ho’s

Red Chilli 

Noodle House 

The first three are places where feasting on dim sum to your hearts content is easily done, I could eat it all day long, every day if I had the chance. They’re also good spots if you prefer the full-on banquet too however! Dim sum-wise I find it hard to settle on a few dishes, usually ordering three or four items if I’m being greedy, and with a pot of Chinese tea I’m in my element grazing through each delectable morsel. My go to dishes are classics that will be very common to dim sum lovers I’m sure, being a creature of habit I like what I like and that’s it. The table would probably be filled with ha gau, cheung fun (rice noodle roll) filled with either beef, prawn or char sui, then glutinous rice with lotus leaf and either sui mai or war tip.

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Ha gau
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Beef cheung fun
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Glutinous rice in lotus leaf

Red Chilli located on the corner of the Electric Press is well known for Beijing and Sichuan style cookery. In terms of the food has a large menu full of classics, but is also littered with some unusual fare and less obvious westernised choices than some other establishments, such as their dishes with mutton, offal and hot clay pots.

Here I go for Xiaolongbao (steamed minced pork dumpling), stir fried soft shell crab with garlic and salt which is to die for, guotie (pot-sticker dumplings), and the last time I went we also devoured their Chinese sausage fried rice.

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Soft shell crab with garlic and salt
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Fried rice with Chinese sausage and dried bacon
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Guotie (pot-sticker dumplings)

Noodle House is great, found in the city’s rejuvenated Northern Quarter, here you can dive straight into dishes ranging from the humble wonton soup to sliced belly pork at more than reasonable prices. For those really wanting to push the boat out then there’s always the celebratory suckling pig!! More canteen/takeaway style than a restaurant it’s a great place for a relaxed informal feed. 

Wonton soup
Wonton soup

During the celebrations, it’s customary to see restaurants show off speciality dishes with Chinese New Year banquet menus to coincide with the festival. Great for large gatherings!!

Leeds itself will be celebrating with a number of different events being held, such as at Leeds Town Hall with The Leeds Chinese Community Association hosting a Chinese New Year Festival. Here’s people will be entertained with music, dance, the art of Chinese calligraphy and of course food. 

The Business Confucius Institute has organised different cultural events at the University of Leeds, I recently attended a dumpling making workshop on the 4th February, one of a number of events held every month. Having a mother who’s pretty awesome at making dumplings, I was taught as a child and often dabble in the art when I feel a craving!!! So the event sounded right up my street and I got my dumpling mojo on, hopefully I’ll be inspired to try new fillings, wrapping techniques and test them out ready for the start of the new year. They also have other events going on such as their Chinese Tea Ceremony and Chinese art paper workshops amongst others. 

Harvey Nichols will be serving Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea in their Fourth Floor Cafe from 19th February. If that wasn’t enough then celebrity chef Ching-He Huang has designed a menu especially for the store with her Yin & Yang Menu, running from the 16th – 28th February. The menu is up on their website and sounds pretty amazing, taking you on an experience which will lead you through a whole host of tastes, textures and aromas. Themed cocktails also take their place on the menu too!

So there’s certainly lots of going on in Leeds and I’m definitely looking forward to celebrating, Happy New Year!!!

6 Bingley Street, Leeds, LS3 1LX, 0113 2440552

6 Great George Street, City Centre, Leeds LS1 3DW 0113 242 9688

30-36 Cross Stamford Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS7 1BA, 0113 244 9797

  • Noodle House 

20 Merrion Street, Leeds, LS1 6PQ, 0113 2433 940

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