Last Saturday two of my oldest friends decided we needed a catch up. And as Steph had to travel in from Bath and Helen was working in the centre I suggested Tampopo in Cabot Circus. Named after a Japanese girl's name for dandelion from the film of the same name they aim to help in the search for the perfect noodles. I'm not usually one for reviewing chain restaurants on the blog, but when I researched Tampopo I was surprised to discover that only five other branches exist, three of which are based in their origin city of Manchester. So after a quick drink at the cinema we met next door and were greeted by a much needed warm shot of hot air. The front of house was very welcoming and we were told that the wait would be about five minutes, as you cannot book tables unless you are a party of seven or over, so we were given some menus to paw over.
Tampopo boasts a menu composed of faithfully reproduced classics and signature dishes without their own interpretive spin, whilst combining the best from across East Asia's street food scene. Certainly you will get the expected pad Thai, katsu curry and nasi goreng but there are also quite a few unknowns, unknown to me at least. Once seated we were brought some Thai crackers and dip to fuel our decision making.
Steering away from my usual choices I opted for khao soi (aka changmai noodles) a dish from Northern Thailand comprising of chicken, yellow noodles, garlic and ginger. Steph chose the yaki udon and Helen daging lembu goreng, a Malaysian dish of rump steak in oyster sauce with onion and ginger. We also chose some edamame and Helen had a starter of coconut prawns.
My khao soi arrived and it was not at all what I was expecting but it was nonetheless delicious. After removing the coriander, to some people it genetically tastes like soap and I am one of these people, I tucked in with gusto. The noodles were soft and the chicken plentiful, sitting in a spicy coconut curry sauce topped with crispy onions this was moreish to say the least. I would definitely order this again. Steph's yaki udon was also really good, the portion sizes at Tampopo are very generous and they don't stint on the meat and fish like some places. Helen's dish was nice but personally a little too much onion for me but it was very fragrant and worked well.
|daging lembu goreng|
With a number of different dishes and nearly all main courses coming under £10 I feel that Tampopo definitely beats Wagamama on quality, flavour, personal touch and price. Tampopo feels fresher and more vibrant, I for one cannot wait to visit again, it really surprised me and I will be exploring more of their menu next time, there is a lot to choose from after all. To check out the menu visit Tampopo's website.