Iroko – Restaurant Review

We were invited to Iroko for a press preview event, where they were highlighting their Yakitori menu. For full disclosure, we didn’t have to pay for the evening, but no editing or influence has been made on this blog post.

As it was a rare childfree evening, we turned it into date night! To read about the start of my dating adventure, check out this post: http://www.leedsdad.com/parenting/leeds-dad-starts-dating-again/

Food

For the uninitiated (like myself), Yakitori is a Japanese BBQ dining experience, where several small plates of food are brought out one at a time.

I “think” that there were 6 plates all in all. I say think because after a while you do lose track a little bit!! The food was clearly freshly made and amazingly presented.

Starter including seaweed and butternut squash, gently fried
Starter including seaweed and butternut squash, gently fried

Even though the food keeps coming, you didn’t feel overpowered by it all, and you didn’t feel rushed. As you can see, there isn’t much on each plate (the pictures are for both of us) and so if there is a plate that doesn’t appeal, you can easily pass on it.

Tender chicken with tangy flavour
Tender chicken with tangy flavour

Because of the nature of the Yakitori menu, you don’t get a choice on the food, therefore there might be some which you don’t fancy. For us, the duck heart wasn’t the most appealing, but that was psychological, as the food tasted very good.  Clearly, this was not one for vegetarians…

Ox Tongue
Ox Tongue

My particular favourite was the chicken balls right at the end, as you could tell that the quality of the meat was top notch and it tasted really fresh. A lot of the plates had a tangy taste to them, with only a couple being overpowering. (I am such a softie when it comes to spicy food!)

Chicken Balls with egg yolk
Chicken Balls with egg yolk

You are certainly full at the end of the evening, but not uncomfortably full. There wasn’t any dessert on the menu, but you probably need a break before having something sweet!!

Drinks

As I was driving, it was up to Kim to test out the cocktails, which was clearly a hard task! As you can see below, there was an Espresso Martini (£8.50), French 75 (£9) and a Singapore Slinger (£8.50)

Espresso Martini
Espresso Martini
French 75 drink
French 75
Singapore Slinger drink
Singapore Slinger

Given that I was driving, I asked to see what soft drinks they recommended, in the hope of something a bit different.  However, all that was offered was the standard fare, so I went for a small can of coke, for £2.

You also get chilled table water, which is needed as the food certainly carries flavour!

Location

Iroko is located about 100 yards from the Corn Exchange, along Boar Lane in Leeds.  As such, the location is very central for if you want to go out before or after the meal.  However, this also means that car parking can be problematic.  Your best options are either the Trinity car park or the Tetley.  One place which I wouldn’t recommend is the NCP car park near the markets. Chances are that you’ll need to take out a second mortgage to park!!

Is Iroko Child friendly?

Whilst we went on a rare child-free “date night”, clearly I have looked at Iroko as a dad as well. We couldn’t see any high chairs, although there was a nice baby changing unit in the toilet.

Yes, I am that blogger that takes pictures of toilet facilities!

The food on the Yakitori menu is perhaps a little too spicy for pre-teens, but I would recommend picking a couple of small dishes from the taster menu. That way, they can try a couple of different things and there is more of a Western vibe to the menu.

Atmosphere

Iroko is a pretty chilled out place, especially given the fact it is in the middle of Leeds City Centre. We never felt rushed at all and we were so relaxed at the end of the evening.   The Yakitori menu has a 2 hour window and this felt just about right as the food was finished being served after about an hour or so. However, you can chill out and enjoy a drink after the food has finished, before the next sitting starts.

All in all, it is a lovely place to visit, and if the menu appeals to you, you will have a great time.

A chilled out, romantic setting

Iroko also do a number of different themed evenings and so you might find something that is more to your liking on their website.

With plenty of drink selections!
Continue reading Iroko – Restaurant Review

London Attractions Guide

As you may know, Heidi absolutely loves London! We have done a couple of day trips and a couple of mini breaks. As such, I thought that I would do a “London Attractions Guide” which should help if you don’t know where to start.

Best Preschool Attraction

The “Discover – Children’s Story Centre” is a perfect, child friendly place just 5 minutes walk from Stratford Underground station. I wrote about it here previously. Make sure you book in plenty of time because it is small and gets sold out regularly.

Discover

Best Primary School Attraction

The Science Museum is absolutely amazing and we can spend all day there! Located at South Kensington Underground station, it is free to enter. The top floor is a paid-for exhibit called “Wonderlab” and is well worth the money, especially if you get the annual pass. The live shows are educational and entertaining.

TOP TIP!! As you walk from the Tube station to the Science Museum, there is a off-licence selling fresh food. It is just as you enter the underground walkway (not the one in the main foyer.!) The doughnuts and samosas are HUGE and well worth a purchase!

Best Secondary School Attraction

Covent Garden is probably the best place for older children who want to be entertained, but are a bit too old for museums. At a weekend, there are street artists galore who are willing to do virtually anything to entertain the crowds. There is a decent sized market as well, selling all sorts at both London prices and “normal” prices! Either go to Covent Garden Underground station, or Leicester Square (800 yard walk)

Best Grown-Up Attraction

Going to the top Sky Garden in the City of London is a free attraction, but you must prebook. During the day, it is a tourist attraction and children can go in. At night it is a lively bar. Whilst free to enter, the drinks are pricey. However, the chance to sight see from 38 storeys high whilst drinking is an experience! The nearest Underground station is Monument.

 

I can imagine that I should do a follow up to this “London Attractions Guide” with “Bars of London”!!

Best Playground

The there only 2 that I know of in Central London. The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Hyde Park is the best one for sure. It is free, and has security on it making sure it doesn’t get too crowded and making sure children don’t escape from the single entrance/exit. There are the usual swings and slides, but there is a decent pirate ship and suspended walkway.  It is a 2 minute walk from Hyde Park Corner Underground Station.

Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground

The other one is just next to Tower Hill Underground station. It only has a slide, a swing and a wobble table, but if you’re going to The Tower of London, it will cheer up the kids!!

Tower Hill

Best restaurant

We have been to the Rainforest Cafe twice now and Heidi remembers it from 12 months ago. The decor is wonderful and the food is decent. Again, you’re best to book ahead, but this can be seen as a one-off treat. Located in the middle of Piccadilly Circus, its location is amazing. You can read about it here.

Best Atmosphere

I always find that the South Bank has a wonderful atmosphere with the street artists and buskers. There is usually an outdoor attraction on just behind the London Eye as well. We like to start walking from Westminister Underground station to see Big Ben and the House of Parliament.

From there, we cross the bridge and walk past the London Eye where the street entertainment is. Then we cross back over the river to Embankment Underground Station. However, if you’re looking for food, head towards Waterloo and you have an amazing choice!

Giving money to a busker

I hope that this London Attractions Guide has been useful. If you only have one day in London, check out this guide here.  I’ll be doing a travel guide to London shortly, which I will link to on here!

Continue reading London Attractions Guide

Wagamama – White Rose Shopping Centre

We were invited along to Wagamama at the White Rose Shopping Centre, Leeds, to taste some of their new menu and write about my experience in eating there with a 4 year old!!

The restaurant is open plan and so there are lots of things for the little ones to watch before the food arrives. This, coupled with the free (and fast) Wi-fi throughout the White Rose Centre and the children’s placemat and crayons mean that it shouldn’t be difficult to keep the children entertained before or after eating, which is always a problem!!

 

In terms of the children’s menu, there are no starters on the menu. However, from the adult menu, the pork ribs went down quite well, as they are tangy rather than spicy.

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Pork Ribs in Korean barbecue sauce

We also went for the wok friend greens starter and these were very juicy and refreshing. However, there are a couple of parts which have a soy sauce taste and so you might need to be careful.

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Wok Fried Greens (broccoli and bok choi)

However, the children don’t really need a starter as their main course is HUGE!!! We shared a chicken noodles meal and a cod balls meal between us and we struggled to finish them!

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soba noodles with grilled chicken with carrots, sweetcorn, cucumber and amai sauce

There were no overpowering flavours, which is ideal for a young palette. However, the fish cod meal came with a side of curry sauce, which meant that you could spice it up if you wanted. Also, you could experiment, which is the perfect thing about going to somewhere a bit more adventurous for the little ones.

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Cod cubes in crispy panko breadcrumbs with sticky white rice, sweetcorn, carrots and cucumber

Both meals came with large portions of vegetables and they were fresh, crisp and juicy. However, sweetcorn is very difficult to eat with chopsticks!! The rice was surprisingly a bit easier to eat.

However, the little ones have an advantage as Wagamama’s provide child-friendly chopsticks which can be customised into characters. There are additional points if you find a more creative name than my lame attempts of “Snappy” and “Choppy”!! There is traditional cutlery available as well, both for adults and children!

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Practising with traditional chopsticks!

Somehow we found room for dessert, and I couldn’t get near the children’s ice cream, so it must have been very good! The chocolate layer cake was wonderful – I just wish I had a little bit more room for it!

In terms of other facilities, there are high chairs available and the toilets are individual cubicles. The toilets are decently sized so parent and child can go in together comfortably (major plus for single parents!). We went at 5pm on a Friday and about half of the groups had a child aged under 8. As such, it is somewhere where you can happily take your child and they will have a freshly cooked, healthy meal.

I have to admit that my eyes were opened at how a restaurant famed for its spices could adapt for the younger taste buds. Wagamama did it very well and I’m sure that we would visit again. This is mainly because of the excellent way the staff treat the little ones.


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