Our writers and staff choose their favourite dishes from April

Another month, another round of dishes that held our taste buds to ransom. The Manchester Confidential writing staff (and lesser-spotted species from the likes of social media and technical) share their favourite dishes from April.

2024 05 02 Dotm Jonathan Seabass
Terracotta seabass from Nami (£23.90) Image: Confidentials

Terracotta seabass, Namii, New York Street, Manchester (£23.90)

Namii is a handsome Vietnamese restaurant that elegantly serves beautiful looking food. It's good for lunch or dinner or in our case a late lunch with absurd chatter. Fish is a favourite and while the Yuzu salmon is good with its Wasabi kick the Terracotta Seabass is fabulous.

This whole fish is grilled and wrapped in a banana leaf, the cosmetic appeal of which makes the mouth water. This is justified once the fish is revealed and the fine soft, delicate flesh is probed. Not only is the cooking of the fish exquisitely timed but the tastebuds are titivated with a plethora of herbs and spices. The ginger was particularly welcome as was the garlic and the lemon.

This was a stunning dish, colourful and full-flavoured. It felt healthy, was healthy and invited a return visit to Namii. No idea why it's called 'terracotta seabass' though. 

Jonathan Schofield  @jonathschofield

2024 04 10 Tiger Rock Review Soft Shell Crab
Crispy chilli soft shell crab from Tiger Rock, Liverpool (£9.80) Image: Confidentials

Crispy chilli soft shell crab from Tiger Rock, Liverpool (£9.80)

At the risk of repeating myself, we return once again to something simply too good to not order. On a recent trip to Liverpool's student drag, Smithdown Road, I paid a visit to Southeast Asian 'Hawker' restaurant Tiger Rock. I decided against ordering everything at once, preferring to work my way through an ascending scale of sorts, starting with something my appetite is drawn to without fail should I find it on a menu; soft shell crab. 

This was crispy chilli soft shell crab (£9.80), liberally sprinkled with well-dressed lettuce, plenty of coriander and some particularly angry looking chillies complete with seeds. If you shy away from spice then you're in the wrong place. The crispy chilli coating was dark and warming, well-seasoned and, as is the way with anything with a decent whack of spice, more than a bit habit-forming. The crab was fresh, crunchy and carried the accompanying spice wonderfully. A brilliant start to any carousel of small plates, and if anything it just made me more ravenous.

Look out for more soft shell crab in a year's time, no doubt. Maybe even sooner. 

David Adamson  @davidadamson123

2024 05 02 Dotm Harley Sando
Sando from PUBLIC (£11) Image: Confidentials

Sando, PUBLIC (£11)

If you’re looking for a good-value, quality chicken sandwich with plenty of flavour, zestiness and just a hint of spice to it, PUBLIC’s Sando is your best bet.

It’s a buttermilk chicken breast wedged in a fluffy brioche bun and filled to the brim with iceberg lettuce, sriracha mayo, sesame, pepper mayo gochugaru and disco pickles. And its f**king great. 

This sando has all the right flavours and textures in all the right places. The sweetness of the bun and buttermilk coating melded with the fiery gochugaru before being extinguished by the creamy pepper mayo. I’ve thought about it at least once daily since and I’ll be back soon for round two. 

This hip and trendy Northern Quarter spot (and its banging sandos) has my heart. 

Read my full review from this visit here

Harley Young  @Harley__Young

2024 05 02 Dotm Neil Paitan
​Paitan from New Wave Ramen​, Tib Lane (£14) Image: Confidentials

Paitan, New Wave Ramen, Tib Lane (£14)

In Matt Goulding’s fascinating Japan food travelogue, Rice Noodle Fish, he encounters a ramen blogger who eats 400 bowls of the stuff each year – a man who “consumes his ramen with a sense of urgency, conveying thick ropes of noodles into his mouth like a duck, barely pausing to chew.” So I can be forgiven for my own messy slurping of the house Paitan at the new permanent home for New Wave Ramen (though their original counter remains a fixture at Mackie Mayor).

Ramen is a religion in Japan, hence that blogger’s good fortune in relocating to Fukuoka on Kyushu – the cradle of Tonkotsu made from long simmered pork bone broth. I remember touring there with a Kabuki theatre company (it’s a long story) and lapping up bowlfuls of pork-topped wheat noodles in a broth teeming with deposits of sticky fat and oily collagen. A world away from ‘instant’ ramen and indeed much of the aspirants currently saturating the Manchester food scene. 

New Wave is a glorious exception. Though it prides itself on a certain eclectic approach – hence the sesame, chilli and coriander laden Lamb Tentanmen – it also delivers the more classic, soothing charms of a Paitan, creamy chicken broth-based cousin of Tonkatsu. I felt no inclination to pepper with spicy add-ons its perfect formula of noodles, shoyu tare, a sheet of nori, diced green onions, pork belly, smoked collar and those marinated soft-boiled eggs called ajitama. The latter trio are a trial to divide up with chopsticks. I should carry my own bib.

Neil Sowerby  @AntonEgoManc

2024 05 02 Dotm George Cheese Copy
Goats cheese with pickled beetroot (part of £65, six course tasting menu) Image: Confidentials

Goats cheese with pickled beetroot, OXA, Oxton (£65, part of six course tasting menu)

I try not to push my luck and break the rules but this month each time I’ve eaten out I’ve been thoroughly disappointed – I think the ultimate disaster was getting a mouthful of uncooked rice noodles at Wagamamas. So, after a little bit of a negotiation with our Editor I was allowed to use a client dish – before all the keyboard warriors fire up their fingers, yes I didn’t pay for it, yes it’s my client but I don’t care, these little tarts from OXA over in Merseyside were just joyous.

If you don’t know OXA, it’s an independent restaurant over on The Wirral ran by Andrew Sheridan of Great British Menu fame and head Chef Jake Smith. If you want an outstanding Michelin recommended restaurant with a relaxed social atmosphere you need to get yourself there – anyway that’s the sales pitch done. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

What made me love the Goat Cheese and Pickled Beetroot dish? First off, just look how beautiful it looks, I’m a sucker for things looking cute and dainty and this ticked the box. But obviously what about the taste? The pastry was delicate but sturdy, an art in itself and the filling was just light, creamy and had the right flavour punch of acidic goats cheese. These little beauties were then finished with delicate slithers of pickled beetroot which cut through the creamy goats cheese filling so it wasn’t richly overbalanced.


Georgina Harrington Hague  @georginahague

2024 05 02 Dotm April Mark Ramen
​Lamb Tantanmen from New Wave Ramen​​, Tib Lane (£21.50) Image: Confidentials

Lamb Tantanmen, New Wave Ramen, Tib Lane (£21.50 including added extras)

It's on Tib Lane, and serves Ramen, mainly. Mancunia has fallen in love with Japanese soup kitchens serving Ramen. It's all about the broth, which is different in every gaff in this category.

I'm not a specialist, but I've had a few and I've just wolfed down a bowl of Lamb Tantanmen. It's infused with spicy sesame and lamb soboro. Think velvety, 'cos it's got a bit of chicken minced into the grind. It's a lovely trick. With togarahi spices lifting the ante, chilli oil and coriander, it's fit. The nearly soft boiled egg is superb and with celeriac chashu and extra noodles, it's a fabulous thing on a equally fabulous sunny but bitter Manchester day. Oh, and extra house chilli oil. £21.50. If you're not a greedy fat fuck like me, you can start around £14.

Mark Garner  @gordomanchester

2024 05 02 Dotm April Hayden
Curry Beef Brisket in Tom Kha Gal With Flat Rice Noodles from Yuppie Mom Kitchen (£15) Image: Confidentials

Curry Beef Brisket in Tom Kha Gal With Flat Rice Noodles, Yuppie Mom Kitchen, Lower Broughton (£15)

I’ll admit it, our editor has heard me moan about this over and over. There’s a South Greater Manchester bias in this world and for lack of better words, it does my tits in. I want to champion that other side of Greater Manchester, I want to find actual hidden gems. 

Occasionally, I go past somewhere and add a mental note. Yuppie Moms kitchen is the latest to draw me in. Yuppie for me means Tory, so my first question on arrival was ‘Why Yuppie?’ Apparently, Jackie (one of the people that works there) informed me it means ‘made with love’, I asked what was a popular dish, ordered it, and out came this bellowing bowl of noodles, carrots and slow cooked beef brisket. You can tell when a restaurant loves a dish, staff come over asking if I was enjoying 2/3 times. I loved it. Next time you’re in Lower Broughton, check it out or take it out.

Hayden Naughton  @haydennaughton

2024 05 02 Dotm Martyn Chicken
Firecracker Chicken from Wagamama Spinningfields (£15.00) Image: Confidentials

Firecracker Chicken, Wagamama Spinningfields (£15.00)

They finally made it for this month… Wagamama in Spinningfields is another lunch time favourite and my usual dish is the Firecracker Chicken. I've wanted to sneak it into dish of the month for a while now, but it's been failing to meet my nitpicky thresholds due to stingy mangetout levels. If an ingredient is listed under a menu description, I'm hoping for a noticeable appearance. One and a half mangetout on my previous visit was just irritating. 

As a diabetic, I need to eat green vegetables and it is often treated as an unfashionable, or optional garnish in restaurants. If I order broccoli, it's no good dumping a plate of mushrooms on the table as an alternative (Fenix). So I was delighted to see at least nine mangetout in my favourite dish from Wagamama last month. It's difficult for large chains to maintain consistency so I really hope whoever's responsible for the mangetout-revival sticks around. Also, hoping to see again, is our server Ashleigh, who excels at fantastic customer service. She effortlessly brightens up your day and is a real credit to this venue.

So mangetout, check, and the rest of the dish is full of my usual favourites. The Firecracker sauce has a rich sweetness to it and there's just the right amount to give the chicken and pepper chunks a generous glossy coating. The chilli heat is a couple of notches above noob level but far from approaching unpleasant. Jasmine rice is my go-to option for combing up the sauce and comes in a sophisticated dome. At an extravagant £4.50, the cherry blossom lemonade is a bit of a treat; its strong aromatics stand up to and compliment the chilli and sweetness of the Firecracker sauce.

A complimentary green tea on arrival was a nice touch on a cold drizzly day. Thanks Ashleigh and the team for a cracking lunch.

Martyn Pitchford  @Pitch_Blend

2024 05 02 Dotm Lucy Ravioli
Ravioli Alle Melanzane from Piccolino Chester​ (£16.50) Image: Confidentials

Ravioli Alle Melanzane, Piccolino Chester (£16.50)

Shopping day with my niece and decided to go back to my old workplace, and her favourite restaurant, Piccolino. I promise I’m not biased. 

Welcomed by Cosimo, the Italian way - feeling like you have stepped into your local family run restaurant in Sardinia. 

My dish of choice was different to my usual order but felt like something summery and light at lunch. Soft pillows of pasta filled with creamy mozzarella, and tangy sun-dried tomatoes, The tomato cream sauce adds richness, with fresh basil on top. A mix of Mediterranean delights wishing I was on the shores of Italy.

Wouldn’t order for an evening meal (Unless on a diet) I wasn’t full but definitely a great choice for a light lunch. 

Lucy Allen

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