A couple of quick recommendations for you to ponder over Christmas.

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Wakaze is a lovely, easily-over-looked Japanese restaurant at 74 High Street, Leicester. There’s a rash of Far Eastern cafes and restaurants along that stretch and that’s far preferable to more garish chicken shops. Wakaze is a stripped down, modern kind of café run by a couple of entrepreneurial Chinese students from Leicester University  who have teamed up with a Japanese chef.  Service is quick, helpful and friendly and there’s a smart open kitchen at the back of the room that seems to run with quiet efficiency.  Nigiri sushi was very good indeed – especially the mackerel,  gyoza dumplings were great and ricebowl donburri dishes warm and comforting.  I’ve  been a couple of times and am keen to go back to try more.

Regular readers need no introduction to St Martin’s Tea and Coffee and their great daytime food.  I had another terrific lunch in there this week – Indonesian pork with char-grilled hispi cabbage.  This is one of a number dishes making use of their new rotisserie grill and had unctuous fatty pork with beautiful layers of sweet and sour flavours from spicing, a nutty sauce, black and white sesame,  lime, pumpkin seeds and more. There was fiery lime and  chilli rice too.  I hear very good reports of the vegan  version featuring spiced and grilled cauliflower.

I also heard some exciting news from chef Chris Elliman too that plans are afoot for a new project – can’t say too much but Leicester city centre should be a getting a new gastropub next year.  Chris headed up the kitchen at General Tarleton near Knaresborough in Yorkshire  – a renowned dining pub I would sometimes stop at on journeys up to the North East – and he knows all about doing high quality, straightforward British classics.

Finally, Anatolia on Allendale Road, Stoneygate. When this opened it was a bit of scruffy chippy, at odds with the chi-chi environment around it.  Over the years it has morphed into a rather smarter Turkish café but I must admit I’ve given it a wide berth. Last night though we enjoyed some fine Central Turkish mezze  – sublime yoghurt-laden aubergine was probably the star but the meat dishes were excellent too. It’s fully licensed and the service is friendly and competent too. It’s a lot less frantic than similar places on the Narb’ and London Road.

 

 

 

 

 

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Streetfood at LCB depot

December 5, 2016

Over the years a few people have contacted me with talking about getting a street food event off the ground in Leicester.  It’s not come to anything  – until now.

This weekend saw the launch of Canteen – a monthly event at the LCB Depot in the heart of Leicester’s Cultural Quarter. It has the big advantage not just of an array of hip young  businesses on site, but a yard which is accessible to food trucks. Ok, in December outdoor eating is a bit of a challenge, but everything seems right about this idea and venue.

Organised by the energetic and enthusiastic Ahmed Kage, who’s done this sort of thing a lot in Birmingham, the event  ran from 5pm on Friday and was free to enter. There were four traders, a DJ and a cocktail bar from sponsors Sailor Jerry. There’s also plenty of indoor space for diners in the  LCB lobby and café area.

In-house caterer’s Gray’s were offering triple-cooked chips with a variety oftoppings – Canadian-style poutine, Mexican guacamole etc and a Pakistani chick pea curry version.  Out in the yard were Pluk’d , chicken wing and hot sauce specialists who are soon to open a venue in the city; Home Boys, offering Japanese-inspired street food from Nottingham Masterchef finalist  Pete Hewitt; and Esmie, a tremendous Caribbean seafood specialist from St Kitt’s via Birmingham.

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I wasn’t able to try everything, obvs, but I’ll say the Mexican chips received rave reviews. I  did have  Katsu Sando from Home Boys, a panko-crumbed chicken breast in a bun with tonkatsu , a tangy, sweet, fruity sauce. It was great comfort food on a cold night but I’d like to try something with some more complex  Asian flavours.  Having heard the oohs and aahs from friends I also had to try the Doubles from Esmie (below). These Trinidadian favourites are a loose sandwich affair of two pieces of fried flatbread  with curried chickpeas – Esmie’s versions was sweet, spicy and completely delicious. I wish I’d had room  to try the seas bass fillets, prawns and scallops they were serving up too with rice and peas – maybe another time.

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There was a decent post-work crowd in and hopefully more came along later because this was a good opportunity to try some great food in an informal setting. Watch out for more details of January’s event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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