A new restaurant in Huddersfield town centre is thought to be the only one in the north specialising in contemporary Burmese cuisine.
Cafe Mandalay on King Street has been created by chef Ben Popplewell and his partner Burmese-born Myinzu Thein and gives the town something totally different.
They’ve given it a light airy feel with seats both downstairs and upstairs where there is a huge corner settee for larger groups.
It’s not a large menu which is a good thing - who wants to plough through page after page - it’s all neatly set out on the A3 size menu which also doubles as your place mat.
There’s a rack on each table filled with sauces ranging from squid to chilli to soy and peanut oil along with salt and pepper. I sure like a condiment - and that’s a great touch to have all this at your fingertips.
They were three of us so we started off by sharing a Mandalay Street Food Taster (£8.99). This includes quail egg pancakes, fluffy Burmese pancakes stuffed with a soft quail egg and tiny spring onion; chickpea tofu in a sweet chilli sauce; deep fried quail in a spiced batter with a chilli dipping sauce; prawn and split pea fritter which is minced prawn and split pea balls in a taramind dipping sauce.
Quails aren’t big birds - bless ‘em - so it’s not a huge starter, more a taster.
The Burmese slaw comes with a slightly spicy dressing.
The prawn and split pea balls are well spiced while the tofu is really light. The quail has more meat on it than you’d have thought at first glance while the eggs are about as dainty as food gets.
On to the mains which were sticky braised pork shoulder (£7.50), slow braised pork shoulder in a sweet curry sauce with rainbow shard and fragrant jasmine rice; Tamarind Prawns (£11.99), stir fried king prawns in a light tamarind curry sauce with charred pak choi and fragrant jasmine rice and the last one was the vegetarian dish chickpea masala (£6.99), curried chickpeas in a spicy masala sauce, rainbow chard and fragrant jasmine rice (£6.99).
The pork is a surprisingly dark dish but the meat sure was tender as though it had been slow cooked for hours. Although the menu describes the prawns as being in a light curry sauce I thought it was strong and pungent and the prawns sure were royalty while the chickpeas were a medium curry and there was a lot of flavour in that dish.
All were beautifully presented with the jasmine rice.
We also had a side dish of stir fried mushroom and water spinach in oyster sauce (£3.50) - it’s amazing how much flavour you can get out of a mushroom.
For dessert there was a choice of ice-cream with some really rather peculiar flavours.
These included Burmese black tea, vegan coconut, lemongrass and lime, gingerbread, white chocolate and Baileys.
The lemongrass and lime had a refreshing edge with the gingerbread a slightly crunch factor while the best was the white chocolate and Baileys which was pure indulgence.
The restaurant has the World Cup playing on a TV downstairs but you can escape it by going upstairs.
Opening hours: Monday - Thursday 12noon - 9pm; Friday and Saturday 12noon - 11pm. Closed on Sunday. Last food orders 8.30pm.
Disabled: It’ quite small inside and there is a unisex toilet upstairs.
The bill: £61.06
Would you go back? Yes
Location: 53 King Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2PZ
Phone: 01484 766623