Review: Kura Kura, Loughborough

July 7, 2015

 First off, don’t mistake this venue for Kuru Kuru, the splendid little sushi bar on Welford Rd, Leicester.  It’s in Loughborough and as you’ll see from my review below,  done for the Leicester Mercury, it’s recently refurbished and rebranded from The Noodle Bar – and if that sounds familiar beyond Loughborough it’s because this is latest version of the old Noodle Bar on St Nicholas Place (where the Clockwise Credit Union now sits)  and which  – research tells me – is very fondly remembered by many in Leicester.

It’s exactly the kind of place every British city should welcome – a bit adventurous, a bit different, great value, informal, tasty, not without flaws but good fun:

Kura Kura

32 Bedford St

Loughborough

LE11 2DS

Tel:01509 269247

Open: Mon-Thu -5pm-10pm

Fri-Sat 12pm -10.30pm

Sun 12-10pm

Cost: two courses, around £12

8 out of 10

Singapore is one of the world’s great multicultural communities and food is a national obsession. So when a friend with roots there recommended a pan-Asian restaurant to me, I took notice.

It turns out that Kura Kura is something of an old friend anyway. It’s owned by the people who some time back ran the Noodle Bar on St Nicholas Place in Leicester, a cheap and cheerful canteen where I would often fill up with something tasty from a wok. The Noodle Bar reappeared in Loughborough a few years ago, out the back of the White Horse, an otherwise unremarkable boozer on the edge of the town centre.

Kura Kura  (photo taken from their Facebook site)

Kura Kura (photo taken from their Facebook site)

Earlier this year the whole venue was rebranded to Kura Kura, along with a substantial refit and a general uplift to the menu. A couple of the signature communal benches remain, but the others have been cut up and turned into a selection of two and four-tops, and there is an area offering a Japanese-style low table along with cushions and tatami matting. There’s also a striking ceiling made from sinuous, twisted strips of wood, very reminiscent of a bowl of noodles. There is a bit of an issue with acoustics, it does seem to be quite noisy, but all in all it is pretty stylish.

The menu is thoroughly appealing and very reasonably priced. There are appetisers ranging from miso soup with tofu and watame seaweed, through to Indonesian spring rolls, prawn gyoza dumplings and a Cantonese take on crispy aromatic duck, shredded at table and served with pancakes, spring onions and red miso sauce. There’s even a Peruvian-style ceviche with spicy yuzu dressing – actually Japanese-Peruvian fusion, known as Nikkei, is huge fashionable in foodie circles and there’s an obvious link between sashimi and citrus-cured ceviche.

We picked Thai squid – or calamari as it is deemed here. This was a large bowl of tender, marinated and seared, bite-sized pieces of squid with bagfuls of flavour from juliennes of fresh ginger, green peppercorns, sesame and an umami-rich sauce. A snip at £4.95. We also had “hairy prawns” three huge shelled prawns, rolled out and wrapped in katafi, thinly shredded filo-style pastry you might be familiar with from Greek or Turkish sweets. Here though, as well as a touch of humour and visual appeal, it adds a savoury crunch. With a spicy wasabi dressing these were another real treat.

Main courses on offer include grills, stir-fries, curries, spicy soups and a range of rice and noodle dishes. Our Stargazer monkish curry was a full-on, feisty affair with a large amount of firm-fleshed fish with plenty of red chillis, fennel and green beans retaining plenty of crunch, all in a red curry sauce spiced up with krachai or “lesser ginger”. Again, good value at £6.95. We added a freshly-made roti, a truly outstanding flaky flatbread that was a great accompaniment.

We also had a Sulawesi nasi goreng. While this didn’t look especially appealing – a huge, monochrome pile of fried rice – there was plenty going on in there with flavours from finely diced ingredients including smoked chicken and spring onions and side salads of pickled cucumber, tomatoes and black hijiki seaweed. In truth it wasn’t a very balanced plateful but with our additional bowl of wok-fried bok choi with mushrooms, this was good comfort food.

With its generous portions, keen pricing and lively atmosphere it is not surprising Kura Kura is hugely attractive to the town’s famously sporty students. But, while this is obviously not haute cuisine, it should also find favour with with a more quality-focused clientele who will enjoy its bold approach to flavour and some of the skilful cooking on show. I walked out already mentally picking dishes for my next visit.

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One Response to “Review: Kura Kura, Loughborough”

  1. dyason said

    Superb! This almost sounds like it’s worth a trip to Loughborough. I loved the noodle bar back in the day, extremely reasonable prices and how they made the food so fast I have no idea.

    Like

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