Tampopo (Pan Asian) – Manchester
HALAL STATUS All chicken and two beef dishes (Rendang Roti Bites & Beef Rendang) Halal.
Tampopo promises “fresh Eastern cooking” and a tour of the flavours of East Asia with an assortment of signature dishes that range from authentic Thai, Vietnamese and Malaysian cuisine to Indonesian, Singaporean and Japanese.
With a few locations around Manchester – the Trafford Centre, Corn Exchange and Albert Square, respectively – we reviewed the first one and the largest of the three. It should be noted that all the chicken dishes at the Trafford Centre branch are Halal, and two beef dishes – the Small Plate Rendang Roti Bites and the Beef Rendang curry. We can also confirm that all woks and utensils are thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed down for use to ensure zero cross contamination.
From the colourful yet intimately subtle lighting created by the hanging lanterns, to the wall art and seating, not only does this 188-seater restaurant’s very unique interior capture the atmosphere, but also succeeds in recreating that Far-Eastern street-style experience.
And a word about the beautiful wall art too which, while depicting a little boy and his father eating noodles, manages to portray how simple and content the lifestyle there appears to be, while further adding to the overall feel of the place.
It’s worth noting Tampopo’s sister-restaurant East Street, with one located again in the Trafford Centre and one in Central London – the latter having already been reviewed by FtL here.
The Virgin Pina Colada was a sweet, creamy beverage with a perfect balance of Pineapple and Coconut; not too heavy or sickening as some we’ve had. It was light, thus, making it suitable with any of the mains below. Our favourite drink of the dine.
A mixture of sweet and sour is what defined this Mango on the Rocks. The only downside here, however, was the overpowering lime flavour which managed to take away the main taste of the mango puree.
The mint and lime in the Apple and Elderflower Lemonade assured a burst of refreshing tanginess that ultimately dominated over the sweet flavour of the apple and elderflower, which was slightly disappointing. As such, this was more of a standard lemonade than anything else.
It’s also worth mentioning that the drink sizes are definitely more on the too-small-for-the-price side, and nothing fancy at all in terms of presentation. Standard and simple!
NOTE: The pork dumpling was substituted for a veggie dumpling.
A great platter giving you a wide variety of all the top picks, with something for everyone to enjoy.
Our favourite had to be the crispy, well battered Coconut Prawns. Full of flavour and coated in a light, coconut flavoured batter, these are definitely worth ordering as a side alone, as they come a lot bigger than the platter version. Sweet chilli dip also complemented these just right.
The Stick Wings were sweet and sticky and just how they should be! Wonderfully cooked with a chewy and crispy texture, and coated in a generous sauce.
The skewers of tender Satay chicken were cooked in a peanut sauce with a hint of spice. A delicious side dish for all chicken lovers.
Wrapped in delicately thin sheets of rice paper, these Spring Rolls were quite unusual, a nice alternative to the everyday pastry version, and therefore contributed to that aforementioned Asian experience. These were served cold and were filled with a crunchy fresh roll of vegetables and noodles. The dip served alongside it was equally unusual, but complementary.
As for the Corn fritters, then these were crispy fried corn cakes, with a softer centre, and served with a sweet and sour peanut dip that added some great flavour.
The fried Tempura Vegetables included sweet potatoes and peppers, all coated in a light, fluffy batter.
The only thing good about these deep fried Tempura King Prawns was their size. Otherwise, while the light batter had an airy look and feel to it, it was flavourless.
To make matters worse, not only were the prawns unseasoned, but the dip didn’t bring much to the dish either.
A fresh and crunchy tangy flavoured salad, with a great mix of vegetables, including lemongrass, that served as a very refreshing and healthy little side dish.
And though there was slow cooked chicken added to it, its ratio in comparison to the rest was far to small. This was defined by its simplicity and lightness of taste.
The Thai Red Curry is a signature dish that tends to define curries from that region. Tampopo’s chicken version was spicy, creamy and sweet, with the coconut as the dominant flavour to this curry, blending seamlessly with the lychees, which, without being overpowering, provided the dish with a sweet kick.
One negative that ought to be pointed out, is the portion size of the curry in relation to the rice. We all agreed that the latter was far too small in comparison, and even then it wasn’t that good, especially given the price of £12.95. For that, you’d expect a more filling dish than what we got.
After six hours of cooking, the beef in this Rendang turned out to be perfectly soft and tender, and was cooked in a sauce that was closer to dry than wet.
With the taste of ginger and lemongrass coming through strongly, this certainly represented the flavours of Indonesia.
Accompanying this were roti slices and a smashed cucumber salad (soy vinegar, chilli and sesame oil) – the former fluffy and crispy; the latter soft and textured, different, and therefore enjoyable.
A Nasi Goreng with egg on top (dishes in that region being topped with an egg is common) sounded intriguing enough; but despite opting for the egg, it didn’t quite work for us.
Combined of fried rice with vegetables, lime leaves, chilli, cucumber and onions, this turned out to be quite an unusual dish, and something we hadn’t really seen or tried before (perhaps an acquired taste).
The main shortcoming with this dish was the immediately strong and overpowering oily taste of all things being ‘fried’, and which therefore turned out to be the overwhelming flavour of the dish. Not very appealing.
Although we again went for the chicken, it wasn’t the best choice. Perhaps it was just our dish on the evening, but in hindsight, we should have gone with something different.
NOTE: All stir-fries served with Jasmine rice.
This Pad Krapow is a great saucy stir fry, with a sweet sauce and crunchy vegetables, that delivered a perfect mouth-watering sensation.
Both the vegetables and our choice of filling, prawns, were well cooked and not too soft or rubbery. But it’s the oyster sauce that managed to add sweetness to the dish, while being deftly countered by the savouriness of the fish sauce.
A great combination which we enjoyed and, dare we say, a better portion size too in comparison to the rest.
It should also be noted that we asked for the default level of heat to be reduced to something more mild and manageable. Perhaps the addition of heat, for those who enjoy their stir fries hot, might add an additional dimension here. Let us know below if it does.
These Vietnamese fried Banana Fritters were soft on the inside, coated in a crispy golden breadcrumb batter, and served with a smooth Cinnamon flavoured ice cream that perfectly complemented the sweet caramel sauce base.
But, the real flavour here was the chopped nuts running through the batter, that not only gave the fritters a crunchy texture, but wonderfully enhanced the overall taste.
These were a trio of pure and refreshing flavours of smooth ice cream.
While cinnamon was heavenly and a dessert in itself, the green tea was light and sweet.
This Coconut Chocolate Fondant was a chocolate Bounty on a plate!
Although the classic Bounty may not be to everyone’s liking, this was rather enjoyable. A strong chocolate taste, which was quite rich, tempered well by the coconut. You’ll be in for a great chocolate indulgence with this one.
These flaky Roti Pancakes aren’t your usual kind, that’s for sure.
While covered in an addictively sweet, milky sauce, they were cooked to such perfection that they managed to retain some crispiness while being deliciously chewy.
But what really got us was the fragrantly strong flavour of the cinnamon, making this our favourite dessert by far. If you love your desserts delivering sweet kicks, then this is not be missed. No better way to end a meal, and surprisingly light too.
Of course, no dessert, or meal for that matter, could be complete without a hot drink of some sort. We were recommended their speciality of filtered coffee, and went for a jasmine tea too.
The coffee turned out to be a creamy experience. Filtered whilst you wait and served with condensed milk, this wasn’t a strong coffee, but a pleasantly sweet one. Nevertheless, with one Lion being a coffee-lover and one the opposite, both agreed it was unique and different in taste.
As for the jasmine, then it was a relaxingly soothing and detoxifying end to the review. Herbal flavoured with a real kick of jasmine; it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but a must for herbal tea connoisseurs.
- YES/ YES
- CHILD SEATING
- DISABLED ACCESS
- STUDENT/NHS 20% OFF
- KIDS PASS £1
Our favourites had to be the Pad Krapow stir fry and the Thai Red Curry. Portion size for the mains, however, are definitely small when ordered alone, particularly given the price being paid. The only exception here was probably the Nasi Goreng.
And while both Jo and Ben were very welcoming and helpful throughout our dine, this was true of all the friendly and attentive staff, who were always on the ready to assist and help.
Depending on the store, they now offer delivery via Deliveroo (Trafford being the exception). As well as offering a 20% discount for both students and NHS staff, kids can also dine for just a quid with a Kids Pass. Couldn’t get better than that for a family outing especially given the Trafford Centre branch's 'kids corner', which not only offers little toys to keep the little ones busy, but also a microwave for self heating services (baby food, etc).
If you’re seeking after an Asian cuisine experience, then give this a try.
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