Bundobust’s Spring Guest Indo-Chinese Menu

For those who remember Bundobust’s Indo-Chinese menu from last year, you probably just need these four words as a review: Gobi Toast is back. For everyone else, read on…

Running until 14 April, Bundobust’s Indian street food menu has guest Indo-Chinese dishes. Gobi Manchurian (cauliflower and mushroom pakoras in a hot sauce) was adopted as a permanent item after appearing on the guest menu a few years ago, and is joined by five more items inspired by Kolkata’s Chinatown. You can have all six dishes as a combo for two people for £35, or you can buy them individually and mix and match with the regular menu – as the success of Gobi Manchurian attests, these fusion dishes will sit well with the mainstays.

All the Indo-Chinese Dishes

There are clear crossovers between Indian and Chinese food – most obviously garlic, chillies and ginger. The departure of the Indo-Chinese dishes is in the extra umami brought by soy. This umami richness is half of what makes the Gobi Manchurian sauce so moreish. The other half is a very generous hand with the garlic. Cauliflower florets, soft without being mushy, are given a light pakora batter and doused in the sauce. Another regular menu favourite, Okra Fries, gets a twist, with the sulphurous black salt of the original being swapped out for a salt and pepper seasoning. (There’s an extra dimension of fusion here: salt and pepper chips were first created in Liverpool.)

Chilli Paneer

Many people I visit Bundobust with say that the Paneer And Mushroom Tikka is their favourite item on the menu. You can get an Indo-Chinese cheese fix from Chilli Paneer. Fingers of paneer are battered and then mixed with peppers, onions, and a spicy-sweet chilli and honey dressing. Again, there’s an umami depth underpinning the sauce that offsets the sweetness really well. I should note here that my friend Aaron said he wanted more chilli in the sauce, but he’s a hardened heat-fiend and I thought the level was just right.

Gobi Toast with Gobi Manchurian

Aaron’s second favourite dish, just behind the Gobi Manchurian which took his gold medal spot, was Chow Chow. Described as a half-rice, half-noodle stir fry but primarily rice noodles with seasonal veg and a soy dressing, this for me was the dish furthest towards the China end of Indo-Chinese. What would have been a fairly plain source of carbs is elevated by being topped with caramelised garlic and Desi chilli crisp. For the uninitiated, chilli crisp is a condiment typically combining crispy fried shards of chilli with more of that delicious umami.

Corn Ribs

A strong contender for my own favourite dish is the Corn Ribs. Strips of corn cobs are deep-fried and tossed with gochujang (a Korean hot pepper paste, and another source of soy-based umami) and miso (a great ingredient, but hard to write about when you’ve already used the words ‘soy’ and ‘umami’ multiple times – fortunately, the food is not at all repetitive). After gnawing the corn kernels from the rib, you find yourself nibbling at nuggets of the sauce that are clinging to the core.

Gobi Toast

And the Gobi Toast? That’s another strong contender for my favourite. A twist on prawn toast, Gobi Toast has mashed cauliflower spread on bread, topped with black and white sesame seed, and deep-fried. Yes, it’s fried bread – but there’s cauliflower, so it’s definitely healthy, right? A small pot of Sichuan-spiced mayo on the side adds a bit of heat.

Along with the food options, there is a new lager, brewed with extra-light malt and rice, called Chokha. It’s dry and crisp and designed to go well with the special menu. Those who like a heavier, hoppier beer may want to stick to the regular pints, but I really liked this refreshingly crisp ale option.

We didn’t sample the two cocktails that feature as a complement to the guest menu (my plan is to go back soon and rectify this!) There’s a Jasmine Eastside that combines gin, jasmine green tea, cucumber, ginger and lemon (definitely a health drink to go with the healthy Gobi Toast), and a Sesame And Ginger Old Fashioned that has sesame-infused bourbon, ginger and toasted rice syrup.

All the Indo-Chinese dishes arriving – and with a smile!

The combo menu comes with two fortune cookies. Sometimes, you might get a free pint, though Aaron and I weren’t so fortunate. No matter – we’d eaten well and felt very lucky for it.

Visit the Bundobust Leeds website here.

Photography by Thomas Chalk.

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