“All spectacle without the substance” is a criticism levelled at many of this city’s establishments – and one that certainly seems to be whispered around areas like Spinningfields.
But why do people always seem to insist that these two are not mutually exclusive? Can somewhere be both stunning and slick as well as offering everything you want behind-the-scenes in terms of drinks, service and most importantly the food?
Since opening up in Spinningfields 4 years ago, Tattu has managed to survive and flourish through new development and increased competition in the area, not only with a level of impressive sophistication which keeps people coming back again and again but by constantly adapting, improving and changing their menu of contemporary Chinese delights.
I was tasked last week to head on down to the restaurant, sit in the shade of their stunning cherry blossom tree and see just what they had on offer on their new Summer 19 menu. The addition of 19 brand-new dishes promised: “flavours that balance clean, crisp spices and seasoning with refreshingly lighter ingredients.”
We started with a selection of the always remarkable dim sum plates, with some Rock Shrimp and Scallop Gau (£8) and Black Cod Parcels (£10).
The best way to describe a ‘Gau’ is a small dumpling which in this case was squid ink black and filled with a deliciously meaty filling of rock shrimp and scallops. Each one was topped with some cod roe to give a welcome burst of saltiness to each bite, while a spicy wasabi tobiko provided the kick.
Similarly, the Black Cod Parcels were a lesson in how to create a microcosm of complementary flavours in a small package.
Wrapped in spinach, the black cod was exactly how you’d want it to be, rich, delicate, buttery and cooked to perfection. Topped with candied orange and an orange ponzu, the fruity citrus provides a fantastic juxtaposition of salt and sweet in your mouth, making these little wonders extremely moreish. They were gone in seconds.
In addition, we also ordered the brilliant Salmon Sashizza (£9), small ‘tacos’ topped with perfectly seared and tender salmon, a tangy Yuzu kosho aioli and a delectable truffle tapenade.
Again, all of the flavours here worked wonderfully, and the combination of the crispy taco, the creamy aioli and the juicy salmon all came together to create a real stand-out dish.
As a little treat before the main courses, we decided to try Tattu’s new Seared Beef and Sunflower Seed Salad (£14) an impressive dish that came piled with an array of sliced cucumber, spring onion, garlic and comes topped with a very generous helping of superbly tender beef.
The addition of subtle nahm jim chilli flavours and a sprinkling of mint helps create a dish that is light, almost impossibly fresh and full of complexity.
On to the mains and we decided to give the Lotus Leaf Miso Chicken (£19) a try, mainly because we saw another table order it and it looked and smelled fantastic as it went past. When ours arrived – we were not disappointed.
It comes presented in a bamboo steamer, wrapped in a steamed lotus leaf with the miso chicken sitting on a bed of sticky chilli rice, seared pak choi and Shiitake mushrooms.
The dish comes packed with many different flavours and textures, with the salty umami of the miso mixing with a distinct tangy apple injection when paired with the accompanying vegetables and rice. The chicken was cooked just right, and by foregoing any form of subtly this dish is certainly all about the big, strong flavours.
Something I tend to order in every single Chinese establishment I’ve ever visited, I just had to try Tattu’s take on the classic Aromatic Crispy Duck Pancakes (£20).
Duck can be a notoriously difficult meat to get right and with such a well-known dish on offer it would be interesting to see how the team tackled it while still retaining that unique flair that they’re so well known for.
Well, the two stand out elements to the dish were certainly the two most important, with a perfectly crisp duck breast that was crunchy on the outside but tender in the middle and a hoisin sauce which could quite well be the best I’ve ever tasted.
Described on the menu as a ‘cherry hoisin‘ this sauce is SO much more than I could ever describe. It’s a complex mix of smokiness and sweetness with subtle hints of caramel and treacle all hidden in there with every taste.
It reminded me of the treacle toffee sweets that you get on Bonfire Night, and I cannot fault it in any way. Paired up with the duck it’s phenomenal and certainly a must-try. I should also add that the crispy shallots are a great touch too.
You can’t come to Tattu and not indulge in one of their stunning desserts so we left a little space for a bit of sweet-sweet at the end. And we were certainly glad we did.
First up was the Deconstructed Banana Fritter (£8), another Chinese restaurant classic that’s been given a contemporary Tattu twist. It’s a caramelised banana topped with crispy cinnamon flakes, fried wontons, ginger and little scoops of ice cream.
It’s a dish that’s difficult to fault, with my only gripe being that there wasn’t enough of it – there was only one small slice of banana on there and I certainly would have liked more.
Finally, we devoured our Coconut and Mango Smoothie Bowl (£8) in record time. A new vegan offering, the huge bowl comes piled with loads of fresh fruit, granola and a lovely yoghurt in which to pour over the lot. You’re left with a thick ‘smoothie’ that’s fragrant, fruity and above all – fresh.
So with 19 new dishes on the menu, it’s clear that a repeat visit to Tattu is necessary in order to give them all a try. Alongside these new ones, however, you’ll still find many of the classic Tattu favourites on a menu which manages to still both excite and impress after 4 years.
Substance and style though? Yeah, the team at Tattu have got both spot on.
Spring/Summer Menu at Tattu
Tattu, Gartside Street, 3 Hardman Square, Spinningfields, Manchester, M3 3EB
0161 819 2060