In the land of Yorkshire puddings and bangers and mash, superfood crusaders are beginning to make their mark.
An increasingly diverse food and drink scene has meant that visitors to Leeds can now enjoy flavours and cuisines from all over the world.
Itsu, in Commercial Street, is among the new kids on the block looking to stake their culinary claim – with “healthy fast food” of all things.
Its minimalist doors opened to Leeds diners in March, offering an array of calorie-counting dishes aimed at offering guilt-free indulgence.
The Asian-inspired chain, founded by the same man behind Pret A Manger, has come in the city to offer fresh, nutritious meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner – closing most nights at 8.30pm.
It is laid out with fridges decked out with cold dishes and drinks to your left and a sales counter ahead of you.
The two-floor dining area is littered mainly with long wooden tables that can seat up to 12 on simplistic grey stools although there are a couple of small tables beside the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Menu-wise there is much to admire, although if you’re eating in you do pay a few pence more. If you don’t fancy the vibrant sushi or salad dishes, there are warm pots filled with variations on noodles, miso soup and rice dishes. The emphasis is on fish, chicken, vegetables, salads and soup.
There are healthy takes on breakfast dishes like eggs benedict, healthy puddings and snacks as well as a range of smoothies, detox drinks, juices and coffee – the latter coming with a free banana. Sold.
We opted for a couple of the warm ‘brown rice potsu’ pots. I went for the Thai Chicken (£6.39) option, which featured chargrilled chicken, brown and red rice, wilted spinach, leek, muki beans, ginger, Thai sauce and coconut milk. My dining partner had the Greens, Grains and Glory (£6.19) pot featuring a chickpea, vegetable and peanut burger, a runny poached egg, spinach, leek, brown and red rice and Thai sauce.
Both pots were sizeable, flavoursome and filling. The Thai Chicken pot’s meat was soft and fresh, while the smooth coconut milk and sauce combined well with the ginger spice and textured brown rice.
The Greens, Grains and Glory’s ‘burger’ was an unusual addition but the staple ingredients and runny egg made a great healthy meal.
With the addition of a delicious Dairy Free Fruit Superseed smoothie (£4.29) and a bottle of coconut water (£2.49) our bill came to £19.36.
Itsu doesn’t do a great deal to dispel the idea that healthy eating comes at a high price.
Nevertheless its offer is varied and exciting, and certainly gives health conscious diners a great new option.