When I need to catch up with one of my best friends (hi, Ros!) and chat all things guys, blogs we are ~obsessed~ with and other stupid nonsense, we always seem to gravitate towards this little underground gem in Albert Square.
Tampopo serves up the best of East Asia, with dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and more. There’s so much choice and there always seems to be a new flavour to try, whether you’re a spice wimp like me or a little more adventurous.
With five locations across the UK, they’re due to launch their third Manchester restaurant soon in the newly restored Triangle centre near Selfridges, Exchange Square. But for now, they’re running a Tam Pop-Up in Exchange Square, so you can get your East Asian food fix whilst out shopping, and also frequent the #FRIDAYFOODFIGHT in the Great Northern Warehouse (which is amazing, FYI!).
We headed down to their Albert Square restaurant with two very hungry tummies to take a look at their redesigned menu and try out some new dishes.
You know you’ve come to the right place when you’re offered food the moment you sit down. We parked ourselves on to one of the benches and chose the Thai Prawn Crackers for a pre-dinner snack, but if you’re not feeling those, they also offer some moreish Japanese Wasabi Peas! Then a bottle of their prosecco, of course.
The dishes on the menu haven’t changed, but they recently redesigned the menu to make it much easier to interpret for those who aren’t quite so familiar with East Asian dishes. They want to help people cheat on their favourite Pad Thai with some of their other dishes, which are all just as delicious.
Tell your server your favourite dish and ask for some alternative recommendations if you’re looking to branch out and try something different. They’ll be more than happy to help you out!
When we’d had our fill of prawn crackers, we deliberated over our starters. Ros went for the Thai BBQ Chicken (top picture) and I opted for the Thai Coconut Prawns (bottom picture).
The Thai BBQ Chicken was chargrilled to perfection and served with sweet chilli sauce and a Thai side salad. My starter, the Thai Coconut Prawns, were huge fleshy prawns, coated in a breadcrumb and coconut coating that was super flavoursome.
I really recommend them, even if you’re not a massive coconut fan, as the flavour is not overpowering at all.
Time for the main event! My usual dish of choice is the Singaporean Fish Curry (Mahi Mahi Molee Curry) but I decided to be brave and try something different this time. Ros recommended the Thai Tamarind Duck, which turned out to be right up my street and very much in keeping with our Thai themed dinner choices.
Cooked in a zesty tamarind sauce, the duck breast was juicy and tender with lots of flavour. The fried onions on top and choi sum below balanced out the zest to give it a more savoury flavour. It might just be my new favourite dish!
Ros opted for the Thai Rare Beef Salad, which gave me instant food envy when it rocked up to our table. How amazing does it look?! Thinly sliced rare beef, served on a bed of spicy salad, it was clear to see how good to tasted from her face!
I also went for a Vietnamese Side Salad to kid myself that I’m super healthy.
You can’t not have dessert, even if your jeans have become uncomfortably tight, amiright? We love the churros but this time opted for the Chocolate Coconut Fondant, for some extra indulgence. A melt-in-the-middle, rich chocolate pudding, with a creamy coconut centre, which disappeared in about 3 seconds… woops.
Not content with finishing there, we ordered a couple of hot drinks. Vietnamese coffee had been on my to-try list for absolutely ages so it was the natural choice. It contains condensed milk, which sounds a bit strange but is actually really tasty. Ros had their Match Green Tea Latte and started some sort of tea trend, as everyone seemed to follow suit after she ordered it!
We left not possibly wanting any more food for at least another 2 days and armed with gossip about each other’s strange lives. The perfect night! Have a look at their full menu here.
My meal was complimentary of my friends at Tampopo, but as always, all food lusting thoughts are my very own.
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