It must be pretty obvious now that the best stuff to eat in Leicester is South Asian food. There was a lot of immigration to the city in the last century and the majority of the immigrants were of South Asian origin and thus, there are now a lot of Asian restaurants from which to pick. Many of these are situated along Belgrave Road. My brother took us to one much further down Belgrave Road, where it changes to Melton Road. Here was a stand-alone building housing Feast India, a very popular buffet restaurant.

Feast India

I had no idea what to expect of Feast India but it wasn’t this! The place was big with lots of different counters (each given a cheesy name) and it was absolutely packed with diners made up of families and friends and work groups. Behind each of the counters was a man (or a small army of men) preparing fresh food. There was such variety but you still may not see what I got to try that night – my brother told me that a lot of the curries are under rotation.

Let’s have a look around at the food on offer! A tuk tuk greets you at the entrance. Apart from looking the part, it served double duty as a salad counter.

Tuk Tuk Salad Counter

In the middle was a big open kitchen with counters all around it – ‘Masala 360°‘, they called it. Here was a large selection of veggie and meat curries, freshly made flatbreads, rice and biryanis and fried starters. At one corner one could find all Indian-Chinese dishes – chicken and sweetcorn soup, chilli paneer, salt and pepper squid and more.

Masala 360

The Southern Indian foods and pizza stands are next to each other. The latter (‘Pizza Hatti‘) was offered slices of freshly made pizza with Indian toppings; while this was popular with children, I avoided it. I stuck to the ‘Balu’s Southern Bhavan‘ side of things with the dosa man making fresh dosas to order. From what I gathered, plain dosas, masala dosas and cheese dosas were definitely available. You could also order an uttapam or help yourself to idlis.

The Dosa Man

A variety of street snacks could be found at the ‘Bombay Chaat Waat‘. People were crowding around the man who prepared the pani puri, dipping stuffed puri bites in spiced water before depositing them onto your plate; they were all popping them right there and then.

Bombay Chaat Waat

At the ‘Great Kebab Factory‘, fresh kebabs and chicken and paneer tikkas were being grilled right under our noses.

The Great Kebab Factory

There was quite a selection of desserts too. These little cups caught my eye, all filled with jellies and yogurts and kheers. In addition, there was a selection of eggless cakes, some traditional Indian sweets and a whole ice cream display freezer full of kulfis and sorbets.

Desserts

I attempted to sample as much as possible that night. To see what everything on my plates was, please do click through on the photos to see where I’ve labelled everything on Flickr.

First, A Masala Dosa

My First Plate

My Second Plate

My Third Plate

My Dessert Plate

My Last Plate

I didn’t manage to try everything but I was utterly stuffed! The masala dosa was excellent, all thin and crispy, as were the sambhar and chutneys. The pani puri were also very good and I joined the group around the chaat man to munch on freshly prepared ones; leave them too long and they’ll be soggy. Biryanis and freshly made naans were fantastic. The vegetables and vegetable curries were all excellent and so too were most of the meat ones (the lamb curries could have been cooked to further tenderness though). The fish dishes, in particular, were brilliant – there was an excellent southern Indian fish curry and brilliant lime fish pakoras.

Skip the aloo tikki, which was hard to the point of inedible; I also found the kebabs a bit dry but perhaps I chose pieces that were too small as they were all going fast.

Desserts were fine though from my sampling of ice cream, go with the kulfi rather than the sorbet. The Indian sweets were all lovely – gulab jamun and a thick yogurt dessert were excellent.

The cost for dinner is currently £14.95 per person (£11.50 for Sunday lunch and less also for children). I’m definitely a fan! With the variety and quality on offer, it’s closer to the high-end buffets you find in Asia rather than here in the UK and gosh darn it, it’s fun. It’s a great place for large groups too but do book in advance.

Feast India
411 Melton Road
Leicester LE4 7PA

Feast India on Urbanspoon

I was up in Leicester last week to see my brother graduate and as he’s now moving down to London, I knew that this would be my last visit up to Leicester for a while. My brother had arranged to take us to all his favourite spots before he left and when I was given a choice of popular Indian restaurant off Belgrave Road (he recommends Blue Peter) or a cheap, little, out-of-the-way place where mainly Indian factory workers have their lunch. Well obviously I’d choose the latter and it turned out to be Rahat.

Rahat is more like a takeaway shop with space for eating – don’t expect luxury here. The tables and chairs are simple, there are jugs of tap water available and there’s a Bollywood film blasting away behind the counter. My brother gave me the lowdown – the menu is just a guide of sorts and not everything will be available. We interrogated the smiling man behind the counter on what they had in their kitchen. Chicken karahi, lamb karahi, chicken with spinach, lamb with spinach.

“Do you have dry meat?”, I asked. He replied, “Yes!” “Do you have keema?”, asked my brother. He replied, “No!” Another man came from the back and muttered a few things to him. He suddenly brightened and went, “We also have fish masala and king prawns!”

We made our order and in addition to naans, we asked for some pilao rice. The kind man’s face dropped – there was no pilao rice that day. We shrugged and said ok but he called us back soon after, the smile having returned to his face. “We can give you the rice from the akhni pilao. Normally this has lamb on top but we’ll just give you the rice!”. Great!

We retired to the table by the window where my father had installed himself and waited to eat. It didn’t take long before the man came along with lots of dishes to pepper our table.

A complimentary salad plate was first placed before us and I started tasting the yogurt based dressing on the side (what is that sauce called?). Despite its innocent looks and to my surprise, it was very very hot and spicy!

A Very Spicy Yoghurt and Salad

Dry Meat was less dry than I was expecting but still very moreish with lots of tender lamb.

Dry Meat

The Fish Masala was my favourite of the curries and I certainly ate more than my fair share of this. The light but highly spiced curry went well with the delicate white fish fillets.

Fish Masala

Karahi Chicken was pretty fiery and delicious but was a little let down by the use of chunks of chicken breast. It would have been ace with dark meat. I really enjoyed the different spice combinations used in the curries – it was clear that each had been cooked from scratch and they all didn’t start from the same curry base.

Chicken Karahi

The rice from the Akhni Pilao (we had two plates!) was still studded with lots of lamb and was richly flavoured and spiced. It was probably better eaten by itself than with the rest of the curries.

Akhni Pilao

Naans were fresh and hot and soft and crispy and perfect for mopping up the curries.

Naans

But that wasn’t all! The smiling man came along to our table with a gift – a “Special Salad” that he’d sprinkled with a spice mix – I think it must’ve been a chaat masala or something similar.

"Special Salad"

He then returned with another gift from the kitchen – a dish of the King Prawn Masala he’d mentioned before. The prawns were fantastic and in another highly spiced but slightly gelatinous sauce.

King Prawn Masala

It was a ridiculous amount of food and of course we didn’t finish it all. We were stuffed and it had all been excellent. I started guessing how much the total would be; my brother started with £18, I went with £22 and my father went in between with £20.

Dinner at Rahat in Leicester

(Yes, that’s an Instagram photo – you can find me there as sulineats).

So, the grand total (with two cans of soda)? A mind blowing £16. It turned out that the kind man behind the counter had judged portion sizes for us and had given us small portions rather than the medium (~£4-5) and large (~£7-8) portion sizes listed on the menu. How kind – they’re all truly friendly there! Anything more would have been too much for the three of us.

My brother tells me the naan wraps there are great for a quick lunch or they’ll serve you rice or naan and a curry for a song. It’s quite the little gem.

Rahat
1 Suffolk Street/437 St Saviours Road (it’s on the corner)
Leicester LE5 4JA/4HH

People of Leicester! You have an absolute gem of a Chinese restaurant on your high street! Taste of China has only just recently opened (three weeks when we went….three weeks ago).

It’s really sort of a Hong Kong style cafe. Check out my luncheon meat and two fried eggs with instant noodles in soup. It was exactly what I needed for that Sunday lunch. Their menu even gives you the option to choose from a variety of toppings and pairing those with one of a selection of noodles.

Two Fried Eggs and Luncheon Meat on Instant Noodles Soup

And this was my brother’s fish fillets with scrambled egg on rice. Yes, it was as comforting as it looks – white fish fillets in a thick, eggy sauce. Add lashings of chili oil and you’re sorted for lunch.

Fish Fillets and Scrambled Egg on Rice

They even have bubble tea! Go go go!

Taste of China
25 High Street
Leicester

Taste of China on Urbanspoon

A couple weekends ago, I went up to Leicester to visit my brother (a very overdue visit) and apart from the bad timing of the trip (it coincided with very scary protests by the EDL), I had a fun time. The first thing we did as soon as I got there was eat, of course, and he took me to Entropy, a restaurant considered one of the best in the Midlands, for a belated birthday dinner. He’d found a very good deal for the restaurant on Groupon and we were there to make use of the heavy discount.

The little restaurant is headed by Tom Cockerill, who had cooked at the Fat Duck for a spell, and from what I’ve read, the menu at Entropy used to reflect this. Today, though, the menu reads more traditionally but it’s not at all boring as we found it difficult to narrow down our choices. And, oh boy, did we feast that night – portions were very generous (and the prices fair)! I actually wasn’t hungry for the rest of the weekend.

Just because we could, we ordered three starters between the two of us. The Grilled chilli marinated ox heart, fried potatoes, red chard (£7.00) was delicious and the ox heart wonderfully tender.

Grilled Chilli Marinated Ox Heart, Fried Potatoes, Red Chard

The Salmon poached in olive oil, peas “Bonne Femme” (£8.00) was another fantastic starter with the fish fallling apart at the touch of a fork.

Salmon Poached in Olive Oil, Peas "Bonne Femme"

However, the Deep fried Gloucester Old Spot cheeks, gribiche (£5.50) had a tough breadcrumb coating and the cheeks themselves were mainly fat. The piquancy of the sauce gribiche helped to cut through some of that grease but overall, the dish could have been better and the cheeks more tender.

Deep Fried Gloucester Old Spot Cheeks, Gribiche

For mains, my brother had the 8oz Longhorn rump (£20.00), served with hand cut french fries, watercress & green peppercorn sauce. The mound of French fries was humongous and almost visually overwhelmed the steak on the plate (strangely, the photo doesn’t show it); luckily, both were very good: the fries crisp and the steak delicious. I’m not sure what the grilled tomatoes and mushrooms added to the dish though.

8oz Longhorn Rump

I went for the Roast rack & confit shoulder of Leicestershire lamb, crushed new potatoes, green beans & olives (£18.50). It turned out that crushed new potatoes were just mash and the olives were in a very strongly flavoured sauce that overpowered the extremely rare lamb. I don’t know what else to say other than the dish was only ok – the lamb was tender, as were the green beans, but the combination left a bit to be desired.

Roast Rack & Confit Shoulder of Leicestershire Lamb

And again because we could, three desserts! The Duck egg creme brulee, peanut butter cookies (£6.00) was insanely rich and I’m not sure it even needed the side of the cookies. We couldn’t finish the cookies and so I wrapped one up in a napkin and shoved it in my handbag. I only remembered it two days later and by that time it had softened and was better than fresh!

Duck Egg Creme Brulee, Peanut Butter Cookies

The Caramelised lemon tart, strawberry sherbet (£6.00) went down a treat but honestly, I don’t remember much about it as I was slipping into a food coma at this point. I do remember my brother going on about how wonderful the sherbet was.

Caramelised Lemon Tart, Strawberry Sherbet

I think this was the dessert that did me in – the Chilled strawberry soup (£5.00) as it was placed directly in front of me and I felt the need to finish it. It was refreshing and very simple – just pureed and sweetened strawberries – and to me, this was the dessert that required some kind of biscuit on the side rather than the creme brulee.

Chilled Strawberry Soup

We were a little surprised when they presented us with our bill soon after we’d finished our desserts as we hadn’t asked for it yet. We were pretty much the last ones there and it turned out that they had to close up at 11pm, even though it was a Friday night (they were apologetic about it). We paid up (one dessert and one large bottle of water – both not covered by our prepaid deal) and rolled out, both quite content with the meal. Though there were a couple things that may not have worked, the meal overall was still wonderful (service was very friendly) and there’s no denying that Leicester needs more restaurants like this one. Thank you very much again to my lovely brother for the dinner!

Entropy
42 Hinckley Road
Leicester LE3 0RB

Entropy on Urbanspoon