While driving up Westgate in Huddersfield town centre I glanced into the bus station a few days ago.
I don’t know why as I’ve not been on a bus in donkey’s years – perhaps it was some inner
nervousness to do with those dreaded bus gates.
But something caught my eye.
It’s possibly Huddersfield’s most bizarrely positioned restaurant as it’s more or less in the bus station yard itself.
It used to be one specialising in Pakistani food – and very good too – but it now has a new name on it. Gurkha Sizzler. A sizzling Gurkha? Now that's just crying out to be reviewed.
A few days later I was on the phone booking a table.
The lady on the other end was really chatty.
“What time do you want to come, love?”
“No problem love, do you know where we are – just go right up to the No Entry signs for the bus station and we’re there. See you at 8pm love.’’
Now that’s a lot of love in one quick conversation. She didn’t sound like she hailed from Nepal. More like Yorkshire born and bred and right proud of it.
And when we met her she certainly is (Yorkshire born and bred) as front of house is restaurant manager Sonya Garcha, who comes from Bradford and has worked in several of West Yorkshire’s best known Asian restaurants. She’s a character and brings the place alive.
It’s a strange menu and this is because the restaurant, which opened just a couple of months ago, is testing the waters of Huddersfield’s foodie fans.
It says Gurkha on the name but there’s only a couple of Nepalese dishes on the menu. The rest are Asian – predominantly curries – with a sprinkling of Chinese such as chilli chicken and vegetable Manchurian which, word has it, have a Nepalese twist.
Popadoms and a pickle tray arrived – good value at £1.80.
Starters were paneer tikka (£2.25) for wife Ruth, homemade Indian cheese marinated in yoghurt sauce with tomato, peppers and onions and cooked in a charcoal oven.
I was torn between lamb chops (£4.49) marinated in Indian spices and fish tikka (also £4.49) which is haddock marinated in yoghurt with delicate herbs. Both were cooked in that charcoal oven again.
Sonya sensed the indecision, the dilemma, the lack of any proper decision-making process. She solved it.
“Don’t worry, love,” she said. “I’ll do you two lamb chops and two pieces of fish. That all right for you, love?”
More than all right. That’s someone who knows the meaning of customer service.
Now I’m not a cheese fan. Actually, I’ve just lied there. I’ve a theory based on no research at all that there are two types of cheese eaters and ne’er the twain shall meet. Those who like your normal ‘boring’ cheeses like Cheshire and Cheddar and those who like to gorge on the likes of Danish blue, Stilton and Brie. I fall headlong into the latter category but I’ve got to say the paneer tikka was spot on. The cheese was fantastically yet delicately spiced, as was the fish that just melted away with each mouthful.
But the lamb chops were no shrinking violets. These were coated in serious spice and ended up being a foretaste for the delights to come with the main course.
This just had to be the Gurkha Special (£8.10), chicken, lamb, prawns, mushrooms and cheese cooked with the chef’s own special recipe and a biryani (£7.99) again featuring chicken, lamb, prawns, mushrooms and cheese and the twist here is you can have a choice of sauce to go with it from korma to vindaloo. We went madras.
And, for our veggie chums, we tried an aloo saag karahi (£7.45) of fresh spinach with garlic, ginger, herbs and green pepper cooked with potatoes and garnished with fresh coriander. What a dish. Quite simply the best spinach dish we’ve ever had as it somehow mixed a real spiced up treat with smoothness.
The Gurkha Special and the madras sauce are both on the hot side – one of them had chillis lurking in and among – and were on a par with the best madras dishes you’ll find anywhere else in town.
Go for a peshwari naan (£1.50) featuring almonds, cashews, dry nuts and coconut to calm things down. We were unsure about having rice with peas or with mushrooms so our hostess took that decision-making out of our hands and put both in – and plenty of them too.
When we asked for water we got it immediately and the bottle of house rose (£9.99) went great with the meal. The interior is smart and bright – you can certainly see what you’re eating – and there’s a banqueting hall upstairs where they do an all-you-can-eat buffet on Sundays for £6 a head.
A quick word of warning. Use the car park immediately after the restaurant, which is shared with flats, not the Iceland car park with the scary signs basically warning you it’s 24-hour pay and display and you’ll probably get a fine if you even think of putting a wheel out of place.
It was an excellent night with great service though they ought to expand the Nepalese menu. If that’s as good as the curries then it’ll be stunning stuff.
Gamma House, Henry Street. HD1 4A A (next to bus station)
Phone: 01484 950940
Opening hours: 5pm-11pm. Closed Mondays.
Children: Yes, they have a high seat and children’s menu.
Disabled access: Disabled access and a disabled toilet. There is plenty of room inside the restaurant.
The bill: £50.07, including a bottle of house wine.
Would you go back? Absolutely.