Last week, I headed along to the newly transformed Tampopo at Manchester’s Corn Exchange, to experience an evening of Vegan Street Food to celebrate the latest book launch from Jackie Kearney. The Masterchef finalist has an interesting CV, boasting roles such as a talented chef, an author, creator of The Hungry Gecko vegetarian dining club, and a street food enthusiast. Her new cook book -Vegan Street Food: Foodie travels from India to Indonesia- see’s a celebration of the fresh, meat-free cuisine she encountered whilst travelling across Asia. I’m not a vegan myself, but I do have a penchant for vegetarian food, so I was more than thrilled to attend this dining event and experience the delights from the book.
I have only once before been to a Tampopo restaurant, which is loved for it’s authentic Pan Asian cuisine. Upon entering the newly refurbished Corn Exchange venue, I was pleasantly surprised at how colourful and bold the interior was. The restaurant appeared to take on a more cosier, warmer look and feel, banishing the benches and switching to more intimate tables. The walls are adorned with elegant mosaic tiling and romantic Chinese lanterns, creating a real East Asian feel.
I sipped a little glass of lychee fizz upon my entrance, and sat down with a number of Manchester’s foodies and press before indulging in a range of fine vegan food from the dedicated menu.
Appetisers consisted of Tom Yum Shots with Sticky Rice Balls (at first I wasn’t too sure what to do with the ‘shot’, until I started to dip the rice balls into it. Not too sure if that was correct…I don’t think it was!), Thai Style Tofu Skewers with a delicious peanut dip, and Pani Puri Pops, a combination of vegetables in a Thai style coating. I have always enjoyed Tofu, and these flavoursome starters didn’t disappoint…
Moving onto the main courses; we were treated to a Jackfruit Rendang as a first serving. This fruit was definitely a new fruit addition to me, and never before have I thought a fruit would work so well with a curried dish. However, seasoned with spices and coconut it was surprisingly yummy, and could pass off as chicken if you were none the wiser!
The second dish was my favourite, a Hungry Gecko Dal Masala, which is the thick yellow-ish dish in the photographs. The mixture of aubergine masala in the middle of the dish looked like red meat upon appearance, so I was in the mindset of eating a beef curry when taking my first bite (obviously I knew it wasn’t….). So I actually preferred the taste of this a whole lot more than any red meat curry I have tried before. I love vegetables in curry dishes, but run out of inspiration myself. This however, was ridiculously tasty, with a real spicy kick. It also felt nice to dive into these unique dishes knowing I was upping my intake of healthy vegetables.
Following this, I enjoyed tucking into a Balinese Seaweed Salad, Steamed Jasmine Rice, and the softest Roti bread with a malay style dip. I really need to bring some more Roti bread into my life…
The selection of foods portrayed a fantastic assortment of animal-free options that can be brought into meals we cook up and usually class as ‘comfort foods’, mixing with Far Eastern flavours. It just goes to show that with using your imagination, combined with focusing on healthy eating and incorporating enough vegetables, you can cook up some delightful dishes.
I would love to have a good read of the book myself for some meal inspirations. I’m pretty poor at ensuring I eat enough healthy vegetables, and my creative cooking skills aren’t up there with the highest. however this evening inspired me very much.
A wonderful evening which introduced me to the joys of Vegan street food.