Thursday, 10 May 2012

Little Tokyo - Leeds

Little Tokyo is somewhere I have often heard people talk about and refer to as a good place to go, a few of my friends used to go here just for the cocktails. However it was never somewhere I was desperate to go eat or drink. From the outside it doesn't look very appetising it has blacked out windows with pictures of the food displayed on them.

However after reading another blog and their experience, plus doing a little research in to their menu online I thought I'd give it a whirl.

It was about 12.30pm when we arrived outside absolutely starving from a hectic morning. We walked in and were immediately greeted by a lady in a rather stunning Kimono, we asked for a table for two and were led towards the back of the building. First impressions?
It didn't look like anything special perhaps just a little dark. She led us towards a row of stools and I was thinking I really do not want to sit on those today! That's when she appeared to sink down and she turned to us and told us to mind our step. My friend and I exchanged confused looks only to creep nearer and realise that hidden on the over side of the bar with the stools was a staircase. She led us down the staircase in to the basement which was much more impressive than upstairs.

I actually felt like we had stepped in to a little Tokyo (having been to Tokyo once before). There are screens and lanterns, bare walls and candles lighting the whole room. We were led to a table which at first glance looked like the traditional low tables which you sit on cushions on the floor to eat at. However slightly deceptive due to the lights the tables are actually raised and you sit at the table just as you would a western table.

The menus are varied, there are choices of starters, and mains or you can chose a 'bento box' (£12.99) which is described by themselves a a five course meal in a box. There is a large selection of hot and cold, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages I'd like to think there is something to suit everyone. We both ordered a Mango juice.

It was absolutely delicious and came with tiny chopped up pieces of mango too.

We both decided that we wanted a bento box, but not knowing actually how big they would be we decided to share a starter too. We chose vegetable spring rolls warily, I'm starting to think that maybe you can judge a restaurant by their spring rolls, just as you can do in others by judging their chips. You need that perfect balance of veg and noodles, not too soggy and not too crispy and most definitely not too greasy!

These were just right I am pleased to say! The little bit of salad we got with them too was really fresh and crisp.

I ordered the Chicken Katsu Bento Box...

Working from the top left compartment you get salad with a vinegary dressing, deep fried vegetables, rice, chicken Katsu, and slices of fruit. The long strip you can see laid across the box is deep fried seaweed.

My friend ordered the mix grill bento box...

My friend's box was pretty much the same as mine but with a mix grill, they had a spare rib some chicken and something which they declared as bloody great but had no idea what it was...

The boxes were very filling! We definitely didn't need a starter with them. I think eating slower with chopsticks probably aided this too (or so I would like to think) rather than just shovelling it down with a fork.

We both agreed that although it was novel sitting on cushions, eating with chopsticks lit by candle light behind screens this didn't distract away from how good the food was. It's not gimmicky; it's not overly done on the decoration; it doesn't feel tacky, it feels like you are sat in somewhere which someone obviously cherishes and they treat their customers with the highest respect. The food is prepared on site and it tastes great. I did get a little overwhelmed by the amount of deep fried things in my box so I probably wouldn't get chicken Katsu again but I would love to try some of the other varieties.

We were so full we couldn't manage a dessert, I would love to come back to try one and maybe a bit of Sake too. I did like their dessert menus displayed on an abacus.

Little Tokyo: A massive surprise and somewhere we will go time and time again.

Little Tokyo
24 Central Road

Just behind House of Fraser.

Little Tokyo on Urbanspoon