Last night, while wallowing in the misery of the terrible cold I am currently suffering with, I received a call from my boyfriend, asking me if I wanted to go to a Japanese restaurant in Leeds city centre called Little Tokyo. Initially, I wasn't too keen because of the aforementioned cold, but I dragged myself in to town, and oh my...am I glad I did! The restaurant itself is decorated lavishly, in a reconstruction of a Japanese garden. Yes, perhaps it's a little overdone and verging on tacky, but with the low lighting and candles it feels warm and inviting. They even have a tank under the little bridge in the picture above which is full of lovely fish. One attempted to leap for freedom halfway through our meal, which was fun to see!
The food itself was absolutely delicious and really very authentic. We chose a selection of food and had something of a banquet. I had the Yaki Soba, a dish of thin brown noodles with leek, shredded chicken and shitake mushrooms, as well as an assortment of other vegetables. This was extremely well cooked and seasoned, with the several varieties of mushroom adding a nice variety of texture and subtle flavour. My boyfriend, Mark, chose the Seafood Ramen, which is more of a liquid based 'soup noodle' dish. There were excellently cooked mussels, king prawns, octopus and fish balls. The fish balls were slightly less tasty than the other fishy delights in the dish, but judging by the cleanliness of the bowl at the end of the meal, everything was more than satisfactory.
In addition to the main courses, we also chose a side of tempura vegetables, which was a mix of carrots, green beans, broccoli, mushrooms and sweet potato fried in tempura batter. This was unexpectedly fantastic. Each piece was perfectly cooked and full of interesting flavours, as the tempura added an extra interest to simple vegetables. My personal favourite was the sweet potato, while Mark preferred the broccoli. Along with the vegetables, we also chose the half nigiri sushi set. This was a plate of six sushi pieces; two maki (one crab, the other avocado) and four pieces with salmon, tuna and a white fish which I didn't recognise, but was nonetheless tasty. The sushi was absolutely beautiful. Forget the boxes you pick up in the supermarket, this was as fresh as it gets, with rice that tastes fantastic, isn't crispy from being left in a fridge, and doesn't clump together, topped with fish that just melts in the mouth and is full of delicate flavours. We were so full from our banquet that we didn't order a dessert, but the list has lots of choice, including green tea ice cream, ginger cheesecake and grapefruit and Bombay sapphire sorbet. There was a great mix of light and heavy, fruity, creamy or chocolatey desserts to suit every palate.
In terms of price, Little Tokyo is not the cheapest restaurant that you will ever find, but I feel that everything is priced fairly, as the portions are extremely generous. Main meals cost between around £7 and £10, with side orders and starters anywhere from £4 to £9 (for sharing starters). The priciest items on the menu for the size of the portions are the sushi options. However, this is the usual way with Japanese restaurants, as only the finest and freshest fish and vegetables are used to make sushi, and some of the items are really very fiddly to prepare. The sushi prices are about average, and I would highly recommend Little Tokyo to anyone who likes authentic and delicious Japanese food.
Little Tokyo is at 24 Central Rd, Leeds LS1 6DE
Half Nigiri Set
Little Octopus (In Seafood Ramen)