For as long as I can remember the Piccadilly Gardens area of the City has been bustling with large chains. Pizza Express, Ask Italian and Barburrito to name just a few, have graced the Gardens for quite some time and offer a bit of security for the less adventurous or those who like to stick to what they know. Newest to the block, quite literally, is Shoryu. Whilst Shoryu Manchester isn’t the only branch of this Japanese restaurant, it is the first outside of London which makes us very special in my eyes and boy, are THEY special.
Shoryu specialise in Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen which is a local specialty in the Hakata district of Fukuoka city in Japan, where the owner of Shoryu comes from. This style of ramen is made with a rich pork broth and thin, straight ramen noodles. The pork stock takes over 12 hours to prepare and the ramen noodles have been sourced from a Japanese noodle master to get the base recipe just perfect.
After choosing the style of noodle you want (extra hard, hard, medium or soft) you choose the toppings and any sides you wish to accompany your ramen. It was recommended to us that we choose hard noodles and I am not one to argue. Order placed we sat back with drinks to watch our food be prepared in the open kitchen.
I was expecting a short drinks menu but there is a great selection of beers, cocktails, Japanese whiskey and sake, to name just a few. My friend chose a Kirin Frozen which comes with a frozen whipped top, like a premium beer slushy! We also decided to accompany our meal with a Sake flight, just £6.50 gets you three different sakes to try served warm. A great and reasonably priced way of trying this traditional drink in three different styles.
We started with Shoryu Buns, char siu barbecue pork for me, tiger prawn tempura for him. They are baked on site and they were my first taste of hirata buns which are steamed and look like little sandwiches. They’re pillowy soft and the toppings are great. The char siu pork was soft and broke up well with a fruity dressing that was so moreish I wish I had ordered two. The tiger prawn tempura has the crispiest batter surrounding a plump and juicy prawn with a zesty mayonnaise.
Let’s talk ramen. The ramen dishes (apart from the vegetarian option) have a rich pork broth with the straight noodles described earlier. This is then topped with char siu barbecue pork belly, nitamago egg, kikurage mushrooms, spring onions, sesame, ginger and nori seaweed. There are then different options and I chose the Karaka Tan Tan Tonkotsu which includes spicy minced pork, garlic and chilli oil, no sesame or pork. The chilli oil gives the broth an added kick of spice which is warming rather than being too hot. The broth was packed with noodles and minced pork, so much so that I was stuffed to the brim and it looked like I had hardly touched my food. It was warming and comforting and I can honestly say I have craved it ever since.
My friend is the fussiest eater I know but this was no trouble with the Shoryu chefs. He chose the Kimchi Seafood Tonkotsu with a kimchi spiced broth, scallops, prawns and squid. There would normally be vegetables too but he doesn’t like them so they were omitted. The seafood was beautifully cooked and tasted fresh against the spicy broth with a light sweetness. It was just as good as my own and a dish I would definitely order next time.
The service was seamless, nothing was too much fuss and I have genuinely found a new place to dine whether with friends or on my own. This place is inclusive for all and I thank Hakata for helping to bring Shoryu to Manchester and into my life.
I was invited to dine as a guest of Shoryu and wasn’t asked to pay.