David Adamson heads into the belly of the beast for some Korean Japanese food

What: Kokoro 

Where: Halle Place, Manchester Arndale 

Food/ Drink type: Korean and Japanese rice and noodle dishes, soup and sushi,

When: Mon to Sat: 11am - 8pm // Sun: 11.30am - 6pm 

Independent or chain: Chain

2024 02 28 Kokoro Review Arndale 2
The lights of Halle Place, the Arndale Image: Confidentials

Ah, the Arndale. The scene of many an endless teenage ramble, Saturday afternoons with a tenner to spend, all dressed up with nowhere to go. 

Even in the prelapsarian days of getting something to eat for less than £5, I doubt I would have spent it on food. Much likelier it would've been exchanged in nearby Fopp for a nearly out of print memoir from a sometime roadie of The Clash, which is nourishing in its own way.

But now that the Arndale is seemingly stocked up to the rafters with places to eat, where to go?

2024 02 28 Kokoro Review Arndale
Kokoro Image: Confidentials


Kororo is set up as one of the outlets on Halle Place, the rather grand name for the Arndale's smaller food hall; it's like a giant lazy susan with a staircase and escalator in the middle. Immersive Gamebox to the left of me, Doner Shack to the right. 

That said, it's lightyears from how it was in my teenage days, but still not somewhere that springs to mind for a peaceful and nourishing lunch. 

But if you've come to the Arndale for peace and quiet, you've come to the wrong place. It's all things to all men, just how a shopping centre should be.

2024 02 28 Kokoro Review Interior
Inside Kokoro Image: Confidentials

The Main Event

Korean and Japanese food sits quite well with the speedy, grab and go nature of shopping centre food. A lot of prep and care is taken so that when the lunchtime rush comes the sushis and soups are being slung out at a rate of knots. Outside of the handsomely assembled sushi boxes, this does mean it was missing the usual lovely presentation, but sod it, it's lunchtime.

I went for a pairing of chicken gyoza udon soup (£8.75) and Korean chilli pork noodles (£8.75), which somehow cost the same. The soup was something of an afterthought, but came out on top.

2024 02 28 Kokoro Review Dishes
A filling lunchtime pairing Image: Confidentials

Very simply a clear chicken broth with spring onions, cabbage, fat wormy udon noodles and three gyoza, it was just what you'd want for a lighter lunch. The broth wasn't overly brothy, and the gyoza were lightly deep fried and somehow still crunchy after sitting in the soup.

But (big but). It came with a wooden spoon, so all I could taste was, well, wooden spoon. Not the lunch of champions I'm sure you'll agree.

So I did what any self-respecting person would do and picked the thing up, periodically tipping it into my mouth. Not pretty, but where's a ramen ladle when you need one? 

I may have missed them, but I don't think I did, having time to look around the vaguely space age decor of the place while my chilli pork noodles were prepared.

2024 02 28 Kokoro Review Gyoza Udon
Chicken gyoza udon soup Image: Confidentials

The noodles could have fed a family of three. They were piled into a bowl and spilled out menacingly over the sides, the abundant chilli red pork glaring up at me. While the pork was a good belly fat standard and well seasoned, the chilli sauce was sweet and spicy but not hitting any of those interesting notes in between. It neither hit me between the eyes with a bracing hit of chilli nor got its hooks into my sweet tooth. This is a shame when it could have done both and planted itself in the sub-£10 lunchtime rolodex for when I'm feeling lazy.

2024 02 28 Kokoro Review Spicy Pork
Korean chilli pork noodles Image: Confidentials

Judgement Day

Kokoro is very solid and well-made food, perfect for a swift lunchtime and an ideal preparation for saddling up like a packhorse and enduring the carousel of consumerism that is the Arndale. 

It's a good addition to Halle Place, and has all the clean lines and execution of a modern food hall face in a crowd of many.

A solid but slightly loveless lunch.  

Kokoro, Halle Place Manchester Arndale, M4 3AQ

2024 02 28 Kokoro Review Exterior
Kokoro Image: Confidentials
  • Food 7/10

    chicken gyoza udon soup 7.5, Korean chilli pork noodles 7

  • Service 3/5

  • Ambience 3/5