Menu tasting free of charge.
Pop-up restaurants are some of my favourite to try. Given the limited run of the event, you never quite know what you're going to get, or what you'll be excited to tell people about the following day. I couldn't skip on sharing this one with you - A night with a master chef, a twist on fine dining and good company, let me tell you the story.
Heading up the stairs in Lambert's Yard, we were greeted by an Asian renovation. A giant Torii gate, Chinese lanterns and Japanese scrolls edged each area of the room, with the tables set ready for a night of Asian fusion ahead of us.
For one weekend only, Lambert's Yard in Leeds was transformed, playing host to Naked Noodle and Nawamin Pinpathomrat. You may know Nawamin from Masterchef, where his Thai flavours made such a impact, it was a no-brainer for Naked Noodle to team up with him for a special menu. The menu for the evening promised to merge fine dining with the Naked Noodle range, throwing in some interesting flavours to give the guests something to remember.
We took to our seats and were greeted by Nawamin and his thought process behind the menu. He is still in full time study at Cambridge, so anytime spent cooking is an outlet for his creativity to run wild. Ready to see what ideas he came up with for this pop-up?
I'll preface the breakdown by saying each course could have been classed as a menu highlight, no filler dishes. If I had to pick, there were two courses that stood out amongst the rest, the first being one of them. A classic, duck and hoisin spring roll. A delicious rich sauce, crispy pastry and fresh cucumber working together as The A Team.
Next up, green curry stuffed baby squid. This was a divider as the tentacles graced the table. I dipped straight in and got a hit of spice with brilliantly cooked seafood.
The second stand out, the arancini. This was Japanese curry arancini with a pork croquette, drizzled with katsu sauce. The arancini was so crispy encasing a delicious filling.
Followed by the chilli beef, ox cheek and Thai basil ramen. Slow cooked for eight hours, with broth added at the table. A taster serving, just like the rest of the courses, worked great with such a rich broth.
The final course, red curry crumble with lychee and coconut ice cream. Nawamin admitted to being a huge Mary Berry fan, lovingly borrowing her recipe for the biscuit which we cracked into, crumbling it over the ice cream.
If you weren't aware of the partnership, you would be surprised to hear that every single course included one of Naked Noodle's products. From the rice, to the noodles to chow mein - the products made their way into every dish so naturally.
Nawamin made his way around the guests through the night and we had chance to have an extended chat with him at the end of the night. He shared his secrets of Masterchef, what his plans are for the future and where he finds compromises for the hard-to-come-by Thai ingredients that are present in so many of his dishes.
The insider Thai tips? If you ever need it, you can sub Thai basil for standard basil mixed with tarragon and for galangal, mix ginger and lemongrass. Happy home cooking!
The evening was so well planned out and in such high demand that the pop-up sold out for the weekend ahead. I'm hoping something similar makes its way back to Leeds in the not so distant future.