Our resident Taste Hunter Marko Husak returns to the Leeds side streets to search out hidden eateries from Leeds communities. This week, he travels to China and Home.
Leeds doesn’t have the biggest Chinese community compared to other large cities in the UK, but one does exist; there is a ‘China Town’, with supermarkets and such, behind the newly built Victoria Gate; there is a sizeable population of Chinese students who attend the city’s universities; and where there is a community of migrants, there are places for them to eat…
I frequented the authentic Red Chilli on George Street that used to sell controversial Shark Fin soup, but haven’t been back for a while. Michelin starred chef Michael O’Hare of The Man Behind The Curtain once recommended Ho’s restaurant on Vicar Lane as being a legitimate Chinese Restaurant; I went twice before it closed down. The food was great but being the only diner in there on both occasions meant that the atmosphere was odd, even if for me that was in a good way. Maxi’s Rotisserie in Kirkgate Market has also been on my radar for a while, and every time I walk past it I ask myself why I have never eaten their Peking Duck before.
I grew up eating Chinese food. My mother was a private tutor who taught a few Chinese kids Maths and English as a first language. Their parents owned Clayton House Takeaway in Bradford and they would bring my mum a weekly dim sum banquet as part payment. The food was good and not the kind of stuff you’d see on the typical takeaway menu. I don’t really eat much Chinese food these days, but having been tipped off by a couple of people about ‘Home’, near the university, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to investigate.
It’s easy to miss Home. Situated in an old terraced house on Blenheim Terrace, you can walk past not noticing it’s there. Apart from the two recommendations, I would have not even known it existed. It has no presence on social media and it doesn’t advertise… but it doesn’t need to; Home relies on ‘word of mouth’ within the local Chinese community, and it works.
Me and a friend visited on a Tuesday night and it was full; it was a good job that we booked. We ordered a set menu for two of sweetcorn soup, wings, beef in black bean sauce etc. etc. Although everything was tasty, we realised that we may have made the wrong decision when ordering. Everyone else in the restaurant were eating Hot Pot. Chinese Hot Pot is a truly communal dish that comprises of a simmering bowl of broth that sits in the middle of the table surrounded by plates of raw fish, meat and veg that you cook yourself by dipping it in to the broth. It looked like fun.
I get why the restaurant is named Home; not only does it remind the largely student clientele of China, it also has the vibe of a being in someone’s front room, with its cosy surroundings and friendly service. It is a true hidden gem. I was gutted that we didn’t order the Chinese Hot Pot as it looked the business, but I’ll definitely use it as an excuse to come back soon and try it with a group of friends.