Why it took me so long to visit Little Tokyo is a bit of a mystery – I love Japanese food, it’s in Leeds city centre, it’s not an expensive kind of place, it sells carbs. In retrospect it’s probably a previous lack of Japanese carb cuisine-appreciating friends that’s held me back, but that shall bother me no more – for now there is…the gourmette.
The gourmette and I used to work together. We bonded over a common love of all things carbohydrate based – risotto, pasta, pizza and, of course, noodles. Nowadays we no longer share office snacks or exchange jealous glances at each other’s lunch – instead we meet up for carb dates and chat, good, honest, carb-fuelled chat. It was Ms Gourmette who suggested Little Tokyo as a venue for a carb date and I’m superbly glad she did.
Little Tokyo is situated on Central Road, to the rear of House of Fraser, it’s small but perfectly formed. Ms G and I visited midweek and bounded through the door – partially because of excitement, but also because we’d gone for pre-dinner drinks and cockily opted for ‘large’ glasses of wine. We were pleased to be greeted quickly at the door by a waiter with a friendly nature who seated us by a lovely pool complete with mini-waterfall and fish. The water gleamed, sparkled and tinkled. We agreed it was ambient, calming and aesthetically pleasing, and then we raced to the toilet.
Safely back at the table, calls of nature answered, we appreciated the tree in the corner of the room, admired the twinkly lights and ordered a hearty selection of food. Here’s what we ate:
Although our attention had been to feast on noodles at the earliest opportunity, I got distracted by the avocado tempura on the menu so we decided to share that as a starter. Unfortunately hunger got the better of me on this occasion and I forgot to note the exact food prices and the Little Tokyo website does not seem to be up to date, but I can definitely define the cost as ‘not extortionate’. I was tempted by the tempura because when I visited Japan many moons ago I decided it was the best way to consume vegetables. I also went through an avocado discovery period about a year ago where I ate avocado every which way, except fried in a light crispy batter, thus I decided I had to rectify this immediately once I spied it on the menu. The tempura did not disappoint – the batter was crisp and the avocado was creamy and fluffy – like some kind of superhero chip. However, the similarly creamy mayo seemed like an odd coupling and could have used more flavouring, we craved a little spice.
We found a little in the ginger and soya sauce that accompanied our gyoza, which were juicy, plump and moist. Filled with sweet spicy pork mince, the dumplings were crisp on the bottom and without a hint of grease.
For the main event we both chose chilli chicken ramen soup, carbs in a bowl in sauce. YES. The broth was flavoursome, the chicken was moist and there were ample vegetables and enough chilli for a good bite. We collectively ‘mmm’d’. The soup was presented in a beautifully decorated red bowl complete with ladle and chopsticks. I’ve been daydreaming about the bowl and soup ever since. Does anyone know where I can buy such a bowl? Ms G couldn’t finish her ramen, but I couldn’t not finish mine.
Realistically the bowl of soup alone would have filled us and that came in under a tenner, with the whole feast costing a little more than that each. Little Tokyo is a great place for a date or for group get togethers and a group of lads were noisily wielding chopsticks and chatting behind us as we ate.
Now I’ve finally made it inside Little Tokyo I can’t wait to go back. In fact, I may actually force people here for my birthday next month.