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Tampopo, Trafford Shopping Centre

Manchester has long been on my list of places to visit (you could argue I'm easily pleased). Growing up it was a pop culture hub with a famous soap and an even more famous football club. In my adult years it came onto my radar even more as a vegan hotspot, and the adopted home of one of my veggie blogging bffs Louise

So while heading out to Old Trafford Football Stadium was on my to-do list, so was meeting up with Louise for some vegan grub. Now, we had a bit of drama with this one. V Revolution is closed for renovations, Dough is closed due to storm damage and so many other vegan cafés were outwith the city centre boundary - and since I only had 24 hours in the city I didn't want to wander too far out. 

Then Louise suggested heading to one of the restaurants in the Old Trafford Shopping Centre. Originally I was a bit hesitant because I assumed they would all be chains that are available in Scotland, and I didn't exactly want to eat in the same-old while exploring a new city. Thankfully, there were two vegan friendly restaurants to choose from that were not available in Glasgow. 

We settled on Tampopo - an Asian fusion restaurant with clearly marked vegan dishes. If you live south of the border, this restaurant might be more familiar to you. There's three in Manchester and one in Soho, London. It had a very Wagamamas-esque feel to it - so even if you haven't been before, you'll know what to expect. 

The menu itself is large but when you narrow down the vegan dishes you're only left with a few choices - but I will never fault a restaurant for trying. (Also to note: the menu online is slightly out-of-date and is not the same as the one we were handed). This was also one of those nights where I could hear my stomach rumbling: I had had a busy day of travelling and walking round the Manchester United Museum, while Louise had been at work. So between us we ordered a starter and main each, plus a side and a dessert to share. It was one of those days.

We  each chose the same starter of vegetable tempura, and this honestly the best tempura I have ever eaten. Weirdly they included a tempura pepper, which was a bit random but the soy sauce was perfectly salty and we got a good amount of vegetables for our money.

For mains I chose the Singaporean Curry. I'll hold my hands up right now and say I'm not sure the differences between a Singaporean Curry and other Asian cuisines - but this was a good damn curry. The sauce is a mix of coconut milk and turmeric, while the vegetables were sweet potato and cherry tomatoes. I also came across a few little pieces of tofu - which cheekily weren't mentioned on the menu but I love tofu so I'm not personally complaining (though I know it could be a deal-breaker for some).

Me  and Louise also shared some Wok Fried Greens as a side. This was the only part of the meal I felt let down by. The spinach had been left too long to soak and had that horrible soggy texture that I can't stomach the taste of (the same happens when I order the Pizza Express Pianta off Deliveroo). The marinade was also no way near as flavoursome as some restaurants' take on this dish.

Remember that I mentioned that I was hungry? I was hungry enough to add in a dessert - even though I'm usually not a dessert person. There were two vegan options on the menu: mango sorbet or a banana split. The banana split would have probably been a bit more original, but I fell for my old favourite of sorbet. I know a lot of vegans groan at sorbet, but I personally really like it and this was a very creamy take on it.

Afterwards, we had a wander round the Trafford Shopping Centre itself. It's the second-biggest in the UK, and is styled after the malls you find in America. It certainly looked a lot different to other British shopping malls, with it's marble floor and water fountains. However, a lot of the shops were the same as you would find in Glasgow - with the only exception being Selfridges. And don't get me wrong - I had a massive rummage through it (it was my first time in a Selfridges). I didn't buy anything but was tempted by the Kate Spade stationery (but put it back down when I realised how expensive Kate Spade is!).

All in all, I would recommend Tampopo. There's two more in Manchester city itself so you don't need to go out to the Trafford Centre in order to try it. I love fushion Asian cuisine and it's just the trick if you're looking for something Wagamama-esque (but not quite Wagamamas).

Food: 8
Atmosphere: 8
Location: 5 
Value for money: 9

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