Marko Husak takes a taxi ride of advice from Leeds to Roundhay Road via the flavours of Pakistan and the memories of Bradford.
Living in a city centre apartment I am spoilt for choice for places to eat out. There are all kinds of food within a stones throw of my place, and even though I have all this choice and new places are opening all the time in the centre of Leeds, I sometimes get bored and want to get out to discover what the city has to offer on the outskirts. I always value the local taxi driver’s opinion on where to eat out more than any guide book or trendy top 10 list, and after being recommended Tasty’s Karahi Restaurant on Roundhay Road by a handful of cabbies, I decided to give it a whirl with a friend on a quiet Tuesday night.
I was excited for Tasty’s. I heard that it was a basic, canteen kind of curry house. The kind of place you don’t find in the centre of Leeds. The kind of place that you’d have to get a train to my hometown of Bradford, where you’d find many. I’m not saying Leeds city centre doesn’t have great South Asian food, it does; Tharavadu, Bundobust, Akbars, Shabab and Bengal Brasserie are all fantastic, but sometimes I want that back to basics vibe to be reminded of glorious old Bradford.
On our short taxi trip up from the train station we passed all kinds of restaurants, cafes and takeaways. A taxi driver once told me that Roundhay Road was the equivalent of Leeds Road in Bradford or Wilmslow Road in Manchester. He wasn’t wrong, there are plenty of options on the street, and I was surprised and impressed with the variety. There is Ethiopian food from Melkam Megeb, Caribbean cuisine from Maureen’s kitchen, Persian from Soosi, and Greek from Mykonos, not forgetting the usual takeaways selling kebabs, pizzas and Chinese. Some of these places looked great and nearly tempted us away from our original destination but we decided to stick to the plan.
The menu at Tasty’s was everything I wanted and more. Proper Karahi style dishes, grilled meat, spicy korma and specialities such as paya that you only find in the real place. The food was fantastic – popadoms, sheesh kebabs, masala fish, lamb karahi, chicken biryani and a pastel pink chilli and mint yogurt raita that you don’t see the likes of in most places – we were absolutely stuffed for a pleasingly affordable price.
The place itself did take me back to my youth, eating in Bradford curry houses before some of them got fancy bling makeovers. There are some amazing restaurants in Leeds, but there’s something extra satisfying about finding that no thrills place with honest traditional cooking. It seems there are plenty of these to explore on Roundhay Road, and many more hidden all across this city.