Tampopo is one of those places that I’ve been going for years, yet I can’t remember the last time I actually went. I remember going for our Christmas present exchange once; I remember grabbing a quick bite to eat before going to the MEN, and I remember taking advantage of their fantastic student offers when I was at university. But I’ll admit – it had been a while since I’d been, which is why I more than happy to go along when I was invited to their supper club: If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of Asian food too.
If you don’t know, Tampopo is a chain of restaurants based in Manchester (and one in London) that serves dishes from East Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore & Indonesia) in a relaxed atmosphere. The word Tampopo itself is a Japanese girl’s name meaning dandelion (which I thought was very cute!) and is also the title of a Japanese film about a woman searching for her perfect bowl of noodles – very fitting!
When Hannah and I arrived at the Trafford Centre restaurant, we were greeted by Claire, who showed us to a table at the back of the restaurant, where the supper club was taking place. She mentioned that they do the supper club as a way for people to try 5 or 6 dishes off their menu, with a drink, for a set price. They usually run them quarterly and they cost around £22, which, for the amount of food you get, is really good value.
We were also given a Lonely Planet guide to Japan, which I started reading as soon as we sat down because it is one of those countries that has always appealed to me. I would absolutely love to visit and immerse myself in a culture that is so different to what I am used to – watch this space! After having a quick look at the tasting menu (one for meat-eaters and also vegetarians) we both ordered peach bellinis, which were included in the deal.
The menu started off with a portion of pork gyoza and tempura fried vegetables on the side. Gyoza are something that I tend to order whenever I eat at this kind of restaurant, as I find them so tasty, but not too filling before a main meal. The tempura fried vegetables was something that I hadn’t tried before, but I really enjoyed it – we had slices of pepper, baby corn and broccoli stems in the tempura batter which is a really light batter, and isn’t greasy at all.
Next, we had chicken wings in a teriyaki sauce with pickled cucumber. The sauce on this was so sweet, but not at all sickly, which I find some teriyaki sauces can be, and the pickled cucumber was a welcome addition as a hint of something savoury.
After that, we had a chicken ramen with ramen noodles in a broth, which is something that I have had before at the restaurant, and it didn’t disappoint. I really love having noodles in soup because it feels as though you are having two separate meals, and I love the fact that all of the flavourings from the meat and the veg goes into the sauce.
The next course was a sample of two different dishes – sweet potato katsu curry, and a portion of yaki udon. Katsu curry is probably my favourite Asian curry that I have ever tasted, but I had never had it with sweet potato before, and I would definitely order this over chicken next time. The sweetness of the potato matched the slight spicy twang from the curry sauce perfectly, and the rice is always good at soaking it up too. The yaki udon was very flavoursome, and I loved the hint of ginger on top.
The final course was a green tea ice cream, which I was very intrigued by when I first read it on the menu. I’ve had a green tea ice cream before, and wasn’t overly keen, but this one tasted a bit different, and it was nice to have something sweet to end the 4 savoury courses, without it being overpowering.
I would highly recommend the supper club if you haven’t been to Tampopo before, or if it has been a while since you have been because it gives you the chance to sample a number of different dishes that chance with every menu, which are talked about in detail by the staff members – for £22 as well its a really good deal.
To find out more, visit the Tampopo website here.