Stan Graham finally satisfies his curiosity about Leeds’ popular Indian street food hangout, Bundobust – and is impressed with the value for money.
What a difference a day makes. I have been meaning to eat here for some time as I have heard lots of good things about it. Normally I dine out on Fridays and every time I have tried to call the place has looked rammed so I have found somewhere else to sample.
I always feel guilty about eating lunch in establishments which are full to bursting as I think that I am depriving some hardworking Leodian of their midday feed. This week I was in Leeds on Thursday so I decided to take advantage of the change and try my luck again. Bingo! I arrived shortly after noon and found plenty of spare seats. To be fair, the layout of the room is such that there may have been vacant tables on my previous calls and it just might have looked as though it was full. There are a few tables in the entrance area and then a couple of steps, at the top of which is a long room with ample tables and chairs. When I arrived there was a party of about a dozen chaps enjoying a very congenial lunch break.
As well as being purveyors of Indian street food, Bundobust also sells a large selection of beers. There was one hand pump on the bar and several keg dispensers. Under normal circumstances I would have been beside myself with grief at this discovery as I had just picked up a prescription for some pills to combat an ear infection and the directions for use warned that when it came to alcohol I would suffer almost certain death should I get so much as even a whiff of the bar maid’s pinnie. As this is an Indian eatery I was happy to partake of the mango lassi at £2.70 instead. The drink itself was wonderful but there was a twist in that, sprinkled on top, was a mixture of seeds and those tiny candy coated liquorice sweets which you normally pig out on from a dish at the till when you are waiting for your credit card to be declined in the posh Asian restaurants. As you can see from the photograph I had taken a sly slurp before the glass and I had arrived at the table. Luckily the straw provided is of wide enough a bore to handle the flotsam which enhances the flavour to an amazing degree.
The idea here is that you order your food and drink at the bar and you are served the latter immediately along with a numbered card and the former is delivered to your table when ready. Pretty sophisticated for street food. I was once again faced with a delicious looking menu but, as there was a special lunch section, I felt beholden to order from that. It is a bargain at £7.00 for two dishes. There is a limited choice in that you can have one item from a selection of three and a further dish from a second list of three. When I review places which are a bit out of the ordinary I am faced with a decision as to whether I go for something I know so that I can draw a comparison or something I have never had before to see what it is like. Today I took a leap in the dark and ordered Bhel Puri and Egg Bhurji. There is no description of the dishes on the lunch section of the menu but they are on the main menu where there is. The Bhel Puri is ‘Samosa pastry, puffed rice, turmeric noodles, red onion, tomato and tamarind chutney, served cold’. The whole melange arrived in a tub with the majority of the ingredients being crispy which made it into a kind of up-market Bombay mix.
It was very pleasant but did get a bit boring towards the end. I am assuming that the chutney was either incorporated into the tub or not part of the lunch deal. The Egg Bhurji is ‘Indian scrambled eggs cooked with peppers, chilli, cumin and ground coriander. Served with a soft Indian flatbread’. I must say that I really enjoyed this tub. The eggs were scrambled to the ‘well done’ stage rather than a soft scramble and the added spices gave the dish a pleasant kick. The flatbread was wonderful and soft being perfectly cooked and of a melt in the mouth consistency.
I would be happy to recommend Bundobust to anyone wanting a reasonably priced meal at lunchtime. Two courses and a drink for under a tenner is pretty good for Leeds, but the lunch deal option is so limited that I would suggest they push the boat out and order from the main body. Hopefully they would not be on medication so could have a couple of beers before they chose, after which who cares as to how much you are spending anyway.
Stan writes Let’s Do Lunch for Leeds Living. He also reviews special events for food and drink, which sometimes takes him beyond Leeds. He has also developed an interest in writing on culture, most frequently dramatic and musical theatre.