Last weekend, I realised I was more than overdue a good old activity planned weekend in Manchester City Center. Although I live in Manchester and am ‘born and bred’ here, I’m spending increasingly more and more time away from the beloved city. It’s a combination of work, my relationship, general plans and just life, I guess, that has parted me away from the city a little. But I guess that makes me that tiny bit more excited about returning here on occasional weekends!
This certain trip in particular was to book in for a few rounds of crazy golf at Manchester’s Junk Yard Golf, followed by indulging in a delicious ramen dish at Shoryu Ramen. I didn’t know which to be more giddy about in all honesty – I’m a huge lover of Japanese inspired cuisine, but I was also excited to see if I could beat my other half at a game of indoor golf.
Firstly, lets talk about the food. Shoryu Ramen is a newly launched eatery in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, although it actually launched in November 2012. Here’s a great fact: it been recommended in the Michelin Guide 2014, 2015 and 2016, more so for it’s London restaurants. Shoryu Ramen specialises in Hakata tonkotsu ramen from the Hakata district of Fukuoka city on the southern island of Kyushu, Japan. At first I didn’t know too much about what Hakata tonkotsu ramen is, but after researching, it’s a style of ramen made with a thick, rich, white pork soup and thin, straight ramen noodles.
The Shoryu Ramen Hakata tonkotsu recipe has been specially created by their Executive Chef, Kanji Furukawa, who was born and raised in Hakata, to provide the UK with highly crafted, genuine tonkotsu rarely found outside Japan. It’s these little bits of authentic information behind a brand which encourage me to visit and indulge in their cuisine.
Where I can, I’ll opt for green tea, therefore I was overly happy with my cute little teapot and strainer situation delivered to my table. The tea had a more herbal kick to it than your standard green teas, which was a great companion for my meal. My boyfriend got swayed by the advertised detox month special – the Slim Matcha Cocktail – filled with mint, lime, cucumber and coconut muddled with matcha. It was mean, lean and green for sure! As well of delicious, of course…
We decided to share the Kushikatsu as a side order, which is basically a combination of belly pork and spring onion cooked in panko crumb, and served on skewers. It was a toss up between the Shoryu pork buns or the Kushikatsu, and if I was to go again I would probably go for the buns as when I saw them coming out onto peoples tables, they looked absolutely divine!
For our main dishes, I chose the Miso Wafu Chicken, as I’m a huge lover of Chicken, and the fact this version was cooked in soya milk totally sold it for me (I tend to try and be dairy free). The unique broth was made up of tonyu soy milk, white miso, shiitake mushroom & konbu soy broth, goosnargh chicken karaage, kikurage mushrooms, nori seaweed, spring onion and ginger, with the chicken lightly fried in a crisp batter.
It was everything I was looking forward to with a ramen. Creamy, tasty, full of flavour and with yummy chicken. It has a real strong kick of ginger too, for those who like a touch of warming spice.
My boyfriend opted for a pork ramen dish, and chose the Shoryu Ganso Tonkotsu. This classic is made up of a rich 12-hour pork broth ramen, topped with char siu barbecue pork belly, nitamago egg, kikurage mushrooms, spring onion, sesame, ginger and nori seaweed. If you’re more of a pork eater, then this option looked full and meaty with plenty of flavour. For me personally, I’m not a huge fan of egg or pork, so I was literally raving about the Miso Wafu Chicken version!
I’ll make the point whilst I’m onto this that the service was incredible. Even though we had booked – which I don’t feel a lot of people do due to the pop-in-pop-out feel of the place – we were seated on a very low table close to the kitchens, with our backs to the restaurant. I think they picked up this wasn’t ideal. As the team rushed to move us to a table for 2 window seat as soon as one was available (without me even having to ask).
The staff were attentive and friendly, but what I noticed above all was the constant effort to keep the Japanese vibe and authenticity up. They drummed a gong at various times, used the language when possible, and wore the attire.
Overall I’d say this place is a great eatery when you want to grab a healthy and filling bowl of ramen noodles. Options are extensive, and there’s enough spice and flavour for those who may want to ramp it up a little! Plus, main meals come in at around £13, and you really don’t need to order sides unless you’re feeling rather greedy (like I was…)
Secondly, our day was rounded up with a fun-filled session at Junk Yard Golf, close to Manchester Piccadilly station. I’ve attended this place before, but when it was situated at the Great Northern building instead.
In a nutshell, it’s split into two different themed courses, decorated with funky features, super cool lights, banging beats and a particular subject. For example, the Frieda themed course was all about disco, neon lights, glow sticks and club music, making it a fab glow-in-the-dark experience with cool tunes!
The courses range from easy to very difficult, but I think it’s all about luck (and the strength of your hit, which I am terrible with). Some of them, I struck gold and got the ball in the hole with just 2 or 3 hits. Each station tells you how many pars you should be able to achieve, i.e 3 par, if it takes 3 different hits. However, on some occasions, I was much more about the 5/6 par! And 8 is the absolute maximum. Ooops!
You can easily round up a large group of you and spend a day here, watching each other on each course and competing with the competition cards. They also offer up burgers and typical bar foods, along with beers and alcoholic drinks.
For £8 per person, it’s a great birthday or occasion day out other than going for a meal or a day drinking session.
Overall, a lovely Sunday was had. Thank you, city of Manchester…