Monday, April 16, 2007

Hansa's Restaurant

Fri 13 April 2007

A couple of months ago we were supposed to be heading to Hansa's, but missed our slot when our dining companion arrived in Leeds a good two hours plus later than expected. Maybe it was tempting fate to try again, on Friday the thirteenth, when the dining companions were arriving by train ... but fortunately it all worked out and at 10pm we were taking our seats ready for our meal - on time and rather hungry!

Hansa's is a Gujerati restaurant and all the dishes are vegetarian (quite a lot are also vegan friendly). There's no 'vegetarian-pretending-to-be-meat' dishes and there's no meat curries with the meat left out (both of these quite annoy me, especially the former!). These are all dishes that are vegetarian from the ground up and you need to leave any preconceptions about 'curries' at the door: no vegetarian tikka masala for you!

We started our meal with beers all round: including a very spectacular King Cobra, in a 750mL champagne-style bottle and tipping the scales at 8%ABV. There were some very spicy crisp-like nibbles (I suspect made from some root vegetable), and we also tucked into a big pile of pappadums and chutnies.

Food wise, we opted to share 2 of the larger starters: a mixed platter and the masala dhosa. The mixed platter contains a range of bhajis and the dhosa was crispy, stuffed full with vegetables and served with a chutney and a sambar. Once we'd ploughed our way through all of this, we were feeling rather full: the dhosa in particular (listed as a 'larger starter or side dish') was huge and I suspect most people could manage on that alone.

For main courses we chose makai-ne-marcha (a sweetcorn and pepper curry), bhaji paneer (spinach and cheese), chevti dal (dal made from five different pulses), and ful cobi (cauliflower, potatoes, peas and carrot). I have to confess that as I don't like sweetcorn, I don't really like paneer and I particularly don't like peas I didn't eat as much of everyone else's curry as I should have! However, I did try some of the bhaji paneer and it was tasty (paneer aside!) and my dal was delicious. We ordered pilau rice and baturas (deep fried breads ... mmm) to go with our food. Needless to say, after all of this we were too full for desserts!

Not only did we have a good size meal, we came out having spent only £20-25 a head. The service at Hansa's is friendly and efficient (if you can be friendly at 10pm on a Friday night I think you're doing a fantastic job) and the food is lovely. There's not really a lot more you can ask for. I'm sure some people may have issues with it being 'vegetarian', but think of it more as food that just doesn't have meat in it. As you're unlikely to find too many dishes on the menu with which you're familiar, go along with an open mind and you will have a great meal!

1. Hansa's, 72/74 North Street Leeds, LS2 7PN, phone: 0113 2444408
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