Wednesday, 6 March 2013

How a trip to Sukhothai, Leeds City Centre, quelled the outbreak of World War Three

Picture the scene:  I’m hungry. I haven’t eaten meat for days. My sugar levels are low. My sausage levels are low.  

Now, this scene might not seem like much to some of you, but when I get hungry, I get angry.  Like, really angry. If I don’t get fed extremely quickly there’s every possibility that World War Three might break out at any second. Ash has been with me long enough to know the routine – namely a bit of grouchiness, followed by a full-on hissy-fit, followed by a pitiful moan of “but I’m really hungry.” Before the full-on hissy-fit, he usually shoves a bit of bread in my gob to try to quell the anger. You could say that he’s the Switzerland to my Germany.  

Anyway, I digress. I was hungry, miserable and close to a tantrum. I was having severe cravings for chorizo and bacon, two food-stuffs that due to meat-free March are completely out of bounds.

Ash recognised the signs. I was getting grouchy. Something had to be done, pronto. Rather than cooking (the hunger-anger ratio couldn’t cope with the wait), we decided to venture out into town to grab a bite to eat.  With a load of amazing restaurants on our doorstep, we thought that finding something veggie, quick(ish) and filling would be easy.

How wrong we were. I fancied trying Dish – the Great George St  restaurant that I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about. However, there was only one dish on the entire menu that was suitable for a pescatarian. Although the food looked amazing, with heavy hearts we had to walk away, promising ourselves a return trip once meat free March is over.

I tried to rack my brains for other restaurants in Leeds that would sell a plethora of meat and fish free dishes to fill my belly with. All of our usual go to places wouldn’t offer a great selection – the Adelphi, the Reliance etc are great for good quality gastro pub grub, but their vegetarian offerings are few and far between. I didn’t fancy a curry; otherwise the wonderful Hansas would be our first port of call.

Just as my stomach let out an almighty rumble and World War Three was about to break out, I was struck with a brainwave. Let’s go Thai! Thai cuisine is full of lovely vegetarian dishes, oodles of Tofu, bags of flavour.

And so with that we headed to my favourite Thai restaurant in Leeds – Sukhothai on South Parade. Decadently decorated, the restaurant never fails to deliver, always offering a little taste of truly authentic Thai cuisine. Although a familiar dining experience, I’d never been to Sukhothai and not had a meat or fish dish of some kind. To be honest I’d never even glanced at the vegetarian section of the menu. So when I opened the menu to find almost 40 exclusively vegetarian dishes, I was both surprised by the amount of variety and extremely happy with the amount of choice I’d have.

As soon as we tucked into our starters of Pak Tod (deep-fried mixed vegetables in a light batter, served with sweet chilli sauce) and Khanom Jeeb Pak (steamed vegetable dumplings served with soy sauce and crispy garlic), I knew that World War Three had been quashed and peace-time reigned supreme.

 Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures as the hunger had forced me to leave my phone at home, so you’ll have to believe me when I say that the Pak Tod was beautifully presented in a little metal basket. It was an absolute taste sensation. Thick slices of vegetables had been lightly fried in batter to make them almost unrecognisable – it was only when you bit into the veg that you could work out what vegetable it was. It was a type of lucky dip that I can only liken to eating a packet of Revels – but instead of “ohhh, I’ve got a toffee one” or “oooh, I’ve got a malteaser”, our dish was met with shouts of “ooohhh, a piece of butternut squash!” or “Yum! Aubergine!”. The sweet and sour sauce provided the perfect accompaniment.

The Khanom Jeeb Pak was delicious too – the dumplings were moist, delicate and perfectly flavoured. The dipping sauce was lovely too – Sukhothai could certainly win an award for brilliant condiment production.

For mains, I opted for Massam Tofu ( Massam curry with chunks of deep-fried bean curd, peanuts, carrot, onion and potato) and Ash stuck with tradition and had Gang Kiew Pak (Thai green curry with coconut milk, bamboo shoot, bean curd, courgette and mixed vegetables). The curries at Sukhothai never fail to disappoint – they’re never too heavy, always a reasonable size and always leave you wanting more. This time was no different – and I was pleasantly surprised by how flavoursome the delicious chunks of tofu were. I hadn’t had tofu since a trip to Thailand almost five years ago, and it reminded me of how much I love the stuff when it’s properly cooked. It’s now a resolution to cook it at home at some point this month.

All in all, our meal was delicious. Service was brilliant – our waitress was very keen to chat when we told her about our meat-free march challenge, and the bill was wallet pleasing (I’m not sure of the exact amount as Ash paid, but he smiled about it – I’m a lucky lady!). Next time I feel that World War Three is about to break out because of a lack of fuss free, vegetarian friendly and truly tasty food, Sukhothai will be my first port of call to quell the unrest. 


  1. Before the tummyache I was going thai-tastic, now I'm going all HFW and eating three things - all being veg. Today: beetroot, aparagus and rocket for lunch

  2. We have been HFWing too. You got the veggie cookbook? Worth investing if not. Having said that though, lunch today wasn't very inspired: banana, apple, cheese salad stuffed garlic and coriander pitta.

  3. I have that cookbook! It's like you've spoken to my mum and are purposefully talking about all the things she got my for christmas so I actually get off my bum and use them.

    Also, this post is brilliant. One of the best written yet and has genuinely made me jealous that I'm stuck in London and can't visit Leeds for its lovely veggie wares!