Every few years or so there are restaurants in Leeds that capture the imagination of the public.
The ‘go-to’ places that everyone is talking about and aspire to visit.
It seems that Tattu at Minerva House, East Parade is now that place.
Opened in 2017, it quickly became one of the trendiest joints in town, winning awards (including the Best World Restaurant at the 2017 Oliver Awards) and gaining a reputation for excellent food, decor and service.
To call Tattu a Chinese restaurant would be to perhaps confuse the issue. Sure, the food is Asian-inspired but it owes much more to fine dining than your typical Chinese restaurant – no chow mein and chips on this menu, thank you very much.
It’s also incredibly stylish – and expensive. Dinner for two with drinks came to £109.45 and we actually had some of the cheapest dishes on the menu.
The bill included £9.95 for a 10 per cent discretionary service charge of which I’m not a fan. I prefer to tip as I see fit and would have asked for it to be removed but my companion persuaded me not to make a fuss – I wonder how many do?
To stay with the service, it was, I’m pleased to report, exemplary. Our coats were taken as soon as we walked through the door and a cloakroom tag brought to the table.
Our waiter Jake answered all our questions knowledgeably and helped us to decide which dishes to choose to make sure they complemented each other.
The food came quickly and piping hot and plates were cleared away the minute we finished eating.
The interior of the restaurant is dominated by huge and very realistic blossom trees that create a canopy over the diners.
We asked and were told they had been imported from China (or was it Japan?) and that each individual flower had been sewn on by hand.
We’d managed to get a table at 6.30pm via an internet booking a couple of days previously – one of only three slots still available that night.
Traffic delayed us and still to find a parking space we rang to say we’d be late. Then miraculously, just a few yards away from the restaurant we found a vacant spot and made it to the door with seconds to spare.
Seated all around us were bright young things taking selfies and scrolling through their phones. A private party of youngsters in the garden terrace looked to be having a great time and the atmosphere was lively but not boisterous.
So often when reviewing a restaurant I don’t pace myself and find I’m unable to manage dessert so we decided to go for four ‘small dishes’ and one main meal to share to make sure that didn’t happen this time.
Cocktails ordered – sailor’s mojitos which were divine at £9 each – we asked for a dish of sweet and sour lotus crisps (£3) to keep us going until the food arrived.
We eventually opted for vegetarian mixed dim sum basket (£9.50); lobster and prawn toast (£9); crisp pork belly (£8); tofu pockets (£10) and for our main course white misso salmon (£21) and seasonal vegetables (£5). I’ll come to the desserts later.
The dim sum basket was a work of art – as indeed were all the other dishes – two each of shitake, aubergine, pumpkin-filled dim-sum in vibrant colours in a bamboo box. They were tasty but not spectacularly so.
The lobster and prawn toast balls were heavenly, crisp on the outside with a firm, meaty filling and a dish of sweet and sour chili sauce to dip them into.
My favourite was the crispy pork belly with black vinegar, sweet soy and ginger – not a dish I would ordinarily go for but ordered on recommendation. It was cooked to perfection and really quite filling. So much so I was forced to leave one on the plate.
Disappointingly, the tofu pockets filled with sticky rice, wild mushroom and wasabi, although full of flavour were really wet and soggy and came apart when we tried to eat them.
Similarly the vegetable which came with the salmon main course; a few steamed peas and a bit of wilted pak choi in a bamboo box. At £21 the salmon was expensive but beautifully cooked and exquisitely arranged and decorated.
With room to spare we ordered desserts: white chocolate igloo served with blood orange, vanilla biscuit and coconut snow and Asian pear crumble with green apple, almond and pink custard (£8 each).
Even with the blood orange to balance out the sweetness of the coconut snow we didn’t really enjoy the taste and left most of it. The pear crumble was delicious but there was not enough of it.
Although pricey – the cheapest set menu for two is £40 each – that doesn’t seem to have dented its popularity, with tables hard to come by unless you book well in advance.
Tattu, East Parade, Leeds Address: Tattu, Minerva House, 29 East Parade, Leeds
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs and Sun noon-1am, Fri-Sat noon-2am
Telephone: 0113 245 1080