Restaurant review: Zaap, Leeds

Oliver review..Zaap, Grand Arcade, Leeds..13th January 2016 ..Picture by Simon Hulme
Oliver review..Zaap, Grand Arcade, Leeds..13th January 2016 ..Picture by Simon Hulme
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Zaap was entered into several categories for last year’s Yorkshire Evening Post’s Oliver Award but they came away with Best Street Food gong and deservedly so. Just stepping through the door feels like stepping into another world.

It reminds me very much of a scene from the film Now You See Me 2, in which the magicians jump off a rooftop in New York and slide down a long tube, only to wake up in a laundry basket somewhere in China.

Oliver review..Zaap, Grand Arcade, Leeds...Papaya salad with Raw blue crab.13th January 2016 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

Oliver review..Zaap, Grand Arcade, Leeds...Papaya salad with Raw blue crab.13th January 2016 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

Okay, so there’s no laundry basket and this is Thai street food but there is a tuk-tuk and it’s not just for display purposes - you can actually sit in it. In fact, it’s one of the spaces people use as they wait for a table to come free.

We pitched up on a busy Saturday night and predictably, the place was heaving. However, a couple of Tiger beers later (£3.50 each) and it didn’t matter. It’s enough to just soak up the atmosphere in Zaap. Oddly, even though it’s about as busy as a restaurant could possibly get, with barely enough space between some of the tables for the many staff to squeeze through, there’s an air of calm about the service. Waiters and waitresses slide effortlessly between tables, ferrying food from the open kitchen or taking drinks on platters from the bar. It’s all very impressive.

The decor is an eclectic mix of industrial chic and gaudy consumerism. Just about every available space contains something, whether it be a picture, ornament or even a statue, several of which cling to the wall on a short flight of steps which leads up to a small mezzanine.

I did wonder for a moment whether Zaap might mean anything in Chinese but having made use of google translate, it turns pout it means just that - Zaap.

But enough about the decor and the name, what about the food? Well, it’s been about a year since we last reviewed Zaap and I am happy to report the food is as good as ever.

We started with Gra Dook Moo, braised pork spare ribs in black bean sauce (£5 for three pieces). The meat fell off the bone, the flavours thick and rich and satisfying. Next up was Hoy Tod, a crispy pan fried mussel pancake (£7.95), a succulent, salty seafood treat and packed with mussels. We also ordered Moo Yang, grilled strips of pork on a skewer with sesame seeds (£4.50 for three skewers): delightful, light, fragrant, etc. Then there was Poh Teak, spicy hot and sour mixed seafood soup (£8.95), which I would gladly eat every other night of the week during winter. It’s got the strength of a stew but it’s light and fragrant and is probably good for colds.

Zaap is not just a restaurant, it’s an experience and if you’ve not been yet, what are you waiting for?

ZAAP

GRAND ARCADE

LS1 6PG

SCORE: 5/5

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