Tag Archive for: Bundobust

‘Want to go for a Chinese?’ may have lost its cool cachet in the UK, but for a new generation in India the casual dining out choice is definitely Indo-Chinese. You don’t go out to order dal. Manchurian chicken? Bring it on.

There won’t be any chicken on the menu at Bundobust as they launch a quartet of Indo-Chinese specials across their sites in Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool, available until August 29. The veggie/craft beer formula rightly rules. They’ve done cauli and mushroom Manchurian mash-ups in the past, favouring a sweet-sour sauce that’s a bit chippie-like. 

And they’re not the only Manchester city centre Indian to put the Asian hybrid on the menu. Indian Tiffin Room confirmed its street food credentials by featuring diaspora dishes that originated in the old Chinatown of Kalkota (Calcutta) with influences from far beyond. 

Take Hakka Noodles. To the traditional base of Indo-Chinese spices and soy sauce coated noodles the Bundobust chefs add stir-fried green and red pepper, mushroom and white cabbage. For a fiver it’s a gorgeous combo but begs the question: who were the Hakka? 

It’s tiffin time in Kalkota’s teeming Tiretta Bazaar – the link between Chinese and Indian street food

In the late 18th century these folk emigrated from Northern China. A magnet for their silk and tanning skills was Calcutta, established by the British East India Company as capital of colonial India.

Two areas there vied to be Chinatown for them and other Chinese arrivals – Tangra and Tiretta Bazaar. Only the latter remains today as a food and cultural destination. Its restaurants are testimony to the inevitable fusion that quickly occurred to accommodate the deep-fried, chilli/spicy flavours Indians love. Key elements  soy sauce, vinegar and the Hakkas’ essential Schezwan sauce substituting dried red chillies for Sichuan peppercorns

Nowadays you’ll find this Indo-Chinese cuisine across the Sub-continent. It’s especially popular in my favourite Indian city and great melting pot, Mumbai. In Kolkata, though, the influence goes much further, where’ll you’ll find the likes of Chinese bhel and Schezwan dosa. Any resemblance to authentic Cantonese or Sichuan food is fanciful.

Alongside is a more authentic approach to Chinese regional food, too. Around 1974 India’s first Sichuan restaurant opened up at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai. A different kind of hot.

Chicken Manchurian was invented in Mumbai, by Nelson Wang, the son of Chinese immigrants in Kolkata. And that’s how umami made its entry into Indian cuisine. And made the Wang dynasty!

Indo-Chinese has been a slower burner in the UK, perhaps the flagship being Hakkaland in Harrow-on-the-Hill, but I recall a visit to Asha Khan’s much-missed Darjeeling Express off Carnaby Street, where some sizzling Tangra Prawns were on the menu.

Bundobust’s entry onto the scene is as playful as you’d expect, plugging into their own Gujarati-inspired small plate evolution. 

Gobi Toast (£5.25) is deep-fried pav soldiers crowned with garlic and ginger minced cauliflower crusted with mixed sesame seeds. Served with coconut korma dipping sauce. Salt & Pepper Okra Fries (£5.50), where the Bundo top seller is tossed with peppers, onions, chilli flakes and soy sauce. And from leftfield, Tofoo 65 (£6.75), a Bundo debut for the bean curd, filling pakoras in a sauce rich with Chinese five spice, curry leaf, garlic, ginger, fermented red chilli paste and mustard seeds. 

The sauce is “a Chinese spiced reimagining of the classic Chennai Hotel Buhari 1965 sauce recipe.” More research for me to do, then.

Bundobust has venues in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester Piccadilly and Oxford Road (the Brewery).

It’s that time of the year again when Bundobust is dangling its festive baubles, otherwise known as Sprout Bhajis. It’s a world away from all the crass foodie gimmicks of Christmas – pigs in blankets pizza toppings and the like, but then this burgeoning brand yoking Gujarati veggie street snacks to craft beer always does things with style.

So what do you get for your £4.75? Deep-fried bundles of Brussels sprouts, broccoli, onion, fennel and chilli, served with a dollop of cranberry chutney. Chuck in an extra £1.25 and it comes in a soft vegan brioche bun. Proof all their venues are a Scrooge-free zone, a quid from each Sprout Bhaji Butty goes to a local charity.

My Bundo destination of choice to snaffle a bhaji has to be their latest project – the Bundobust Brewery on Oxford Street in Manchester, where head brewer Dan Hocking is knocking out a splendid range of beers tailored towards the spice-driven food menu.

I was disappointed on a recent visit that my favourite of his beers wasn’t on. West is West is a piney and resinous, dank and bitter (in a good way) West Coast IPA. A perfect match for the setting, surrounded by the gleaming vessels of a working brewery, it reminded me of many of the taprooms I’ve visited along the US western seaboard. In San Diego, say.

Which brings me back, by a roundabout route, to Brussel sprouts. The tiny green cannonballs are definitely love or loathe over here with major consumption confined to Christmas. Our Brussels Sprouts Appreciation Society Facebook Group numbers under 700 members after five years in existence.

Vivid green healthy ammunition, but they are culinary anathema to many folk

Contrast this with California, where the foggy, coastal area south of San Francisco grows 95 cent of the American crop, and they are mega cool. A big help is they are not over-cooked to bland mushiness. Food websites in the States are packed with innovative ways to treat your Brussels, which are neck and neck with kale to be top green on menus. Apparently they are a good source of dietary fibre, folic acid, manganese, and vitamins A, C, and K. Sprouts date back to Roman times but were first grown in large quantities in Belgium – hence the Brussels tag – and French settlers brought them to Louisiana in the 18th century.

Flying kites for the much-maligned Brussels sprout in glorious San Diego

Yes, there are roasted sprout gumbos out there, but I’ve never tackled one. I vividly remember  tempura sprouts accompanying  shrimp tacos in one downtown San Diego taproom, their natural hint of bitterness in harmony with the hop. Bizarrely research has shown that genetically two thirds of folk may be wired against the bitter chemical PTC found in sprouts, broccoli, dark chocolate, coffee and even beer. 

Definitely count me out of that pool.

My top Brussels sprout dish is also Indian…from my favourite new generation cookery writer, Meera Sodha. This quick Keralan stir-fry is in Fresh India, her follow-up to debut Made In India (both are £20 from Penguin Fig Tree). Like so many of her recipes, it fuses her Asian culinary sensibility with the raw materials she inherited when her family made their home in rural Lincolnshire.

Shredded Brussels Sprout Thoran (Choti gobhi thoran)


2 tbsp coconut oil; 1 tsp mustard seeds; 12 curry leaves; one large red onion, thinly sliced;  2 cloves garlic, crushed; 1 red chilli, finely sliced; 50g coconut, grated (fresh, creamed, or desiccated); 600g Brussels sprouts, washed and shredded; 1/2 tsp salt; 1/2 lemon, juiced.


Heat the oil in a large pan or wok. Once hot, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves and cook for a minute or two until they start to pop. Add the red onion. Cook until soft and starting to caramelise, about 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic, chilli and coconut and stir fry for a couple more minutes.

Turn the heat up. Add the sprouts, mix thoroughly, and stir fry for a few more minutes. Add the salt and lemon juice, stir, and then adjust the seasoning to taste. The lemon juice counters any bitterness from the greens, so add more if you’ve used quite large sprouts.

Bundobust has three other bar/restaurants besides the Brewery – the original in Leeds, Manchester Piccadilly and Liverpool. They are all taking Christmas bookings now.

Time was there used to be a new brewery opening every month in Manchester with cosy taprooms hard on their heels. That torrent of craft has slowed to a trickle with the emphasis now on established operations upsizing to bigger premises. Track are shifting up to Piccadilly Trading Estate opposite Cloudwater while both Beatnikz Republic and Blackjack have expanded into neighbouring arches.

Bucking the trend (though it has, appropriately, had the gestation period of an Indian elephant), is the Bundobust Brewery, which is opening from 4pm on Thursday, September 16, offering the group’s full repertoire of Gujarati street snacks and craft beer, much of it their own, created on the premises. So the kind of major, major opening we’ve been starved of. And it’s dog-friendly. Our chihuahua Captain Smidge (below left) approved even though spicy veggie is not quite his thing.

It’s located in the Grade II-listed St James Building on Oxford Street, a swift stagger from Oxford Road Station or the St Peter’s Square Metrolink stop.

The last time I was on site was February 12, 2020 and we all know what inhibiting factor for hospitality happened shortly after. Kitted out in a hard hat, I quickly recognised why Bundobust co-founders Marko Husak and Mayur Patel had fallen for the former car park with its wealth of period features – vintage alarm bells, glazed bricks and ‘Drive Slowly’ signage – plus a show-stopping giant glass atrium mirroring the Piccadilly Bundobust’s glass apex. 

This is all on a much bigger scale, influenced by US brewpubs and with a focus on sustainable furniture. Each chair is made from 40 recycled plastic water bottles, while school desks have been repurposed into beer hall-style tables, complete with “I Woz ‘Ere” etchings across a 150-seat taproom and restaurant. All  within a fully-functioning brewery that gleams with all the allure of a new toy. A toy that’s in the hands of a very experienced head brewer.

Dan Hocking, former main man at Holland’s world-renowned Uiltje Brewery, has spent the past year perfecting recipes behind closed doors in the state-of-the-art facility.

Bundobust’s brand new Vienna-style Lager, Cartway Lager, will be available exclusively at the brewery upon opening, taking its name from the historic ‘Cartway’ space within the St James Building that the brewery occupies. Hocking says: “Vienna Lager has a fantastic balance of sweetness and bitterness, and it’s the best all-rounder beer style to pair with food”.

On the opening day the first 200 pints are being given away, with the purchase of food and we expect lager demand will make it Goodnight Vienna.

Marko tells me: “We were due to open in May 2020. The past 18 months have slowed us down, but the delay has meant that we’ve been able to develop our beer recipes. Expect the familiar Bundobust vibe and menu, with the bonus of being in a working brewery”.

That 10-hectolitre custom-build is capable of producing 20,000 pints per month. The beer range will only be available, on rotation, at the Brewery and at the other Bundobust venues in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds. They are designed to partner the award-winning food.

CHAITRO. 5% Nitro Chai Porter. Smooth and creamy Porter with roast malts, a whack of our Bundobust chai masala, and fresh ginger.

PEELA. 4% Pale Ale. Easy drinking hazy Pale, brewed with Azacca and Ekuanot hops. Loads of tropical fruit flavour.

DHANIA PILSNER. 4.8% Coriander Lager. Clean and crisp Czech-style Pilsner with a hit of citrusy toasted coriander seeds.

KIPSY BHAI. 4.8% Kellerbier. Traditional Kellerbier-style lager with German malts and hops. Clean, balanced and crisp.

EAST IS EAST. 6.5% New England IPA. New England-style IPA showcasing ever-changing combinations of the freshest hops.

WEST IS WEST. 6.5% West Coast IPA. Dank and bitter IPA. Piney and resinous, brewed with a rotating selection of the choicest hops. An absolute stand-out.

Bundobust Brewery will also be collaborating with the cream of UK brewery talent. Recent collaborations include Andhera Hoppy Black Lager with Deya Brewing Company, New Delhi Dazzler India Pale Wit with Northern Monk, and Salted Lemon Sour with North Brewing Co.

On a personal note, I have a small role in the Bundobust Odyssey. I was an early reviewer, for Shortlist magazine, of Marko’s pioneering Sparrow Bier Cafe in Bradford, ensuring it made the Top 10 UK craft beer bars, and as a customer wolfed my share of dosas, choles and chaats at Prasad, the Patel family’s acclaimed restaurant, now in Drighlington. In 2014 the two friends combined beer and veggie small plates to create the first Bundobust in Leeds (yes, Zelig-like I was there). The Brewery is just the latest chapter in a delicious indie story.