Finding new places to eat is one of my favourite pastimes and something I look to do at least twice a month. I love the feeling of walking into a brand new restaurant and in being in awe of a new interior, getting excited pursuing the menu and the rising anticipation of the new food that I've just ordered, even better when it is a brand new cuisine. Living between two cities and a very large town, I am blessed that I have some of the best restaurants at my finger tips and even if I visited somewhere new each week, I still wouldn't have dined at every single restaurant.
One place that has been on my foodie radar for quite some time is Little Tokyo in Leeds city centre, around the back of House of Fraser. Little Tokyo is a hidden gem in the city - so hidden that unless you have heard someone talk about it or have walked near it, you probably wouldn't know about it. It is pretty much non-existant on social media, yet it has glowing reviews on Trip Advisor from people who have heard about it via word of mouth. The lack of presence on the internet just intrigued me even more about this restaurant, was I about to discover one of the best kept secrets in Leeds?
Walking into Little Tokyo is like you have taken an express flight to Japan, leaving the cold, dull skies of Leeds on the doorstep. On arrival you are greeted by waiters in Kimonos, a koi carp pond with a wooden bridge and traditional Japanese style seating. The walls are elegantly draped in Japanese textiles and art, everything is dimly lit with candles and the smell of food is overwhelming good. You wouldn't have expected this looking in from the outside as the exterior looks more like a takeaway shop, than classy restaurant - this has definitely taught me that you cannot judge a restaurant by the outside.
The Little Tokyo menu is extensive and also caters for many dietary requests. One thing that really surprised me was all the vegan options from vegan miso soups and noodles to a plethora of vegan style bento boxes. I decided to order the vegan duck bento box having never previously tried a vegetarian or vegan duck substitute before. The 'duck' was cooked in an orange and mango dressing and served with a portion of rice, pickled salad and a selection of vegetable tempura. This particular box is known on the menu as 'four course meal in one' and it definitely lives up to the name with the quantity of food. The duck was sticky, gooey, chewy yet succulent and juicy, the rice was cooked to perfection and the pickled salad was great for refreshing my palette between the other dishes. I thoroughly enjoyed the vegetable tempura, albeit it being a little bit on the greasy side, but all in all the meal exceeded my expectations.
Part of me was a little bit apprehensive about writing this review as I selfishly wanted to keep this place to myself and not let anyone know about it, however I thought that it was an injustice to the people in Leeds that this place doesn't get the press it deserves. Little Tokyo was easily one of the best restaurants I have dined at in a long time - it was quirky, the food was brilliant and the staff were all attentive without feeling the need to stop me while my mouth is full to ask me how the meal was going. They only needed to look at me wolfing down all my courses to see that I was happy. My husband and I paid around £36 for the meal which included two mains, two starters and two drinks, one of which was alcoholic. I've been raving about Little Tokyo since I left and I'm currently trying to recruit more friends for a night out there again. If you're looking for something a little bit different to the standard Yo Sushi and you love authentic Japanese food, you really need to add this to your Leeds restaurant bucket list.
Have you been to Little Tokyo before?