Monday, 5 May 2008

Restaurant Review: Mulan, Leeds, UK

Its location on the 1st floor next door to the Crown Buffet is perhaps a little more exclusive than you imagine they would prefer. Being that once you have scaled the flight of stairs you are faced with a bell you must ring to enter only heightens the expectations you have for the delights found inside and the feeling that you are experiencing something new. Having only been open for 2-3 months very few people outside the Chinese population of Leeds know about this place. This is confirmed to me from the fact that I'm the only western face in the room.

Mulan is an extension to the oriental food academy( that has been running here since 1995. Providing NVQ's for budding chefs and ensuring licensing laws are adhered for all who attend this establishment they really have been bringing about quality in a corner of the industry which may have been falling short in the past.

Where this restaurant really sets itself apart though is in its promise of freshly made dragging noodles on the menu. A quiet word with those on the front and they will happily open the display window to the kitchen for the chef to do a quick demonstration of the preparation of noodles. The speed at which a lump of dough is transformed into 4 different recognisable shapes of noodles is incredible and its here that you realise the ingenuity and the skills required to truly master oriental cuisine.

My partner and I ordered Beef la mian (swinging noodles) and Chicken dao xiao mian (flat knife noodles). Both dishes came as soupy dishes, a reflection of the Northern Chinese cuisine this food originates from. The flavours were complementary mostly of the meat accompanying the dishes but the real treat was the noodles themselves. It's a refreshing change to the standard dry stuff us Brits are used to. Its almost like having your eyes opened for the first time tasting freshly made noodles. Moreish is an understatement.

What Mulan really offers is an experience that you can't find elsewhere in Leeds. It's the combination of the delicious food, the personal service, the visual expertise of the chefs on hand and the insight into Northern Chinese food. One thing is for sure is that I'm going back to try another flavour of noodles.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Lamb Kebabs on Pearl Barley Broth

This dish is inspired by a recipe found in May '08 Runners World (UK) magazine by Michel Roux Jr. A protein rich broth ideal for an after-race meal. Helps replenish depleted stores of carbohydrates and salts.

If you happen to be wondering why I'm so bothered about running all of a sudden its cos I'm down to run the Berlin Marathon. Follow my training at my Tumble log

For the kebabs
325g lamg leg steaks (diced)
Cumin powder
Chilli flakes (or chilli powder)

For the broth
Half a leek (sliced)
5 chestnut mushrooms (quartered)
60g pearl barley
chicken stock (300ml)
olive oil
garlic (clove, finely chopped)
white pepper

Step 1
Heat oil in a pan and cook the garlic, leek and mushrooms until softened. Then add the chicken stock and pearl barley. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes or until barley is tender. Season with white pepper.

Step 2
Heat the oven to 190°C. Thread the diced lamb onto skewers place on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt, chilli flakes and olive oil. Cover generously with cumin powder.

Step 3
Cook the kebabs in the oven for 10-15mins. Serve with broth.