Danny Malin: ‘I grew up eating roast dinners in Barnsley but now the diverse food of Leeds has my heart’

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The Rate My Takeaway star shares his favourite eats across the city

YouTube star Danny Mei Lan Malin reveals why he loves the diverse food in Leeds - and some of his favourite dishes and spots to eat.

I’ve never really thought about it until having a mixed race family but most of the food businesses, restaurants and takeaways I’ve visited have someone from a dual-heritage background behind them.

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From the delicious curries to Brazilian meat grills in Leeds, solid 10 food joints don’t just happen over night they’re often the result of a collection of recipes which have been passed down and refined from generation to generation. 

You only need to step into a food court whether it be in Trinity or Kirkgate to be met by some of the best aromas that really tickle my taste buds. 

Danny Malin shares some of his favourite dishes and spots to eat across Leeds (Photo by National World/Rate My Takeaway)Danny Malin shares some of his favourite dishes and spots to eat across Leeds (Photo by National World/Rate My Takeaway)
Danny Malin shares some of his favourite dishes and spots to eat across Leeds (Photo by National World/Rate My Takeaway) | National World/Rate My Takeaway

While I enjoy fast food when I’m hangry, most of the time I’m happy to wait if the food is being made with love.  Comfort food growing up was a meaty stew or Sunday Dinner because I was brought up in Barnsley, but since I’ve tried more food as an adult my comfort food vocabulary has extended to all varieties of kebabs, butter chicken and jerk chicken with dumplings. 

That’s the great thing about food - it really does bring people together from all cultures as well as leading to stories about our own past. 

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I ate some of the most delicious Eastern European food, handmade fresh to order, by a Ukrainian couple, their daughter and the woman’s mother who had to flee the war in Ukraine in 2020. A business owner had given them a house to live and work for free to help the family who were only left with a rusty old car which had bullet holes in it. 

Instead of an English stew like my grandmother passed down, Eugene and Anna Kryklyvyi made me a lighter version which is a soup called borscht, consisting of beetroot, cabbage, pork, potato and beans - an iconic traditional Ukrainian dish. 

Danny recommended Chef Shabba's food in Hyde Park (Photo by Rate My Takeaway)Danny recommended Chef Shabba's food in Hyde Park (Photo by Rate My Takeaway)
Danny recommended Chef Shabba's food in Hyde Park (Photo by Rate My Takeaway) | Rate My Takeaway

It had a nice fresh fragrant taste to it with sour cream and ketchup on the side to add. 

What was nice was the fact that it was a blend of cultures with the recipes inspired by generations of their family in Ukraine many of whom they’ve lost, infused with fresh flavours of locally sourced ingredients from the market. 

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Next up was a homemade pork and chicken sausage which I could have put in the soup and a stuffed mushroom, all cooked to order. They tasted like they had been cooked on a barbecue.

Talking of barbecues, in Leeds we have some of the best Caribbean food I’ve ever had. Chef Shabba’s Kitchen based in Headingley is not only a student’s favourite but mine too. 

Another of Danny's favourites is Brazilian bar and grill Estabulo (Photo by Estabulo Rodizio Bar and Grill)Another of Danny's favourites is Brazilian bar and grill Estabulo (Photo by Estabulo Rodizio Bar and Grill)
Another of Danny's favourites is Brazilian bar and grill Estabulo (Photo by Estabulo Rodizio Bar and Grill) | Estabulo Rodizio Bar and Grill

I tried his popular Shabba Caribbean Box (£25), which includes seasoned fries, shrimp, mac and cheese, broccoli, jerk chicken, jerk wings and lamb chops.

It looked amazing. The rice and peas and jerk sauce were just wow. The jerk chicken was also bang on. It got my lips tingling. You can’t replicate these kinds of flavours.

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It looked amazing too except for my ‘devil’s food’, aka sweetcorn, which has been a phobia of mine since childhood.

When it came to the prawns I were brought up on prawn cocktail starters for special dinners so that’s the only way I’d make them, but these ones had a tanging sweetness and again had been flavoured with jerk. It was like heaven in a box. I even enjoyed the crunchy broccoli. 

We really are spoiled for choice in Leeds, I never thought I’d be grabbing a Bao Bun instead of a sandwich for lunch until Hoi Sin City landed at Trinity Kitchen. These are the best I’ve ever had. 

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Bao buns which are like a sweet dumpling which can have a range of fillings and toppings. One of the bakers who now makes bao buns for restaurants and takeaways is one of my favourite bakeries in Leeds. 

As this week is real bread week and I’m a huge carb lover, I wanted to pay homage to Gilchrist’s bakery which has been in their family for three generations spanning six decades.

They started out baking proper good crusty bread and now they even make baos, adapting their own family recipes to suit changing tastebuds while still baking their traditional loaves and bread cakes. 

Gilchrist’s uses the traditional sponge and dough method (taking 18 hours). Every day, bakers hand mould all their rolls, pastries and cakes, so they taste fresh just like your granny used to make. 

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One of my favourite carbs is a naan bread ideally with some butter chicken. In Leeds my favourite Indian is Table 27 in Swillington. 

If I’m treating the family to a meal we always head to Estabulo Bar and Grill because all the kids love different types of meat and they’re all cooked to perfection there.

My wife is a healthy vegan however but she loves the salad bar. I like the fact that it’s good value, we can all have as much as we want for the same price. 

By Danny Mei Lan Malin (Dannymalin.co.uk)

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