Vicky Hodgkisson dives into the latest brothy offering in the city centre
What: New Wave Ramen
Where: 16 Tib Lane, M2 4JB
Food / Drink Type: Ramen restaurant, small plates, bar
When: Tuesday-Thursday: 12pm-3pm / 5pm-11pm
Friday: 12pm-3pm / 5pm-12pm
Independent or Chain: Independent
We really have been spoiled for choice with the amount of ramen restaurants popping up in Manchester recently. All taking on their own personalities.
House of Fu - the influencer friend who's always up for a fun night out.
Maki & Ramen - golden retriever energy (perhaps it’s the drum?)
New Wave is the cool friend who got into Berghain but didn’t tell anyone because they’ve got far more interesting things to say.
It has gone for a minimalist, industrial, feel. Slick edges, tall pillars and plastered walls.
I assume sitting at the bar would be fun, the kitchen looked impeccably clean with large orbicle lights hanging above the counter top. I heard a rumour they have a noodle drawer back there. A whole drawer to store all the fresh noodles - organisation at its finest.
After sitting down, I distinctly remember feeling like I was in one of those American classroom table and chair combos. Once I’d figured out how to sit and breathe at the same time I was able to take in the rest of the decor. There was a smattering of Japanese art around the dimly lit back room.
It felt authentic to what I suspect an industrial Japanese apartment would feel like, which falls nicely in line with the Izakaya style of dining. Izakaya, which the Japanese use to describe a spot to grab a drink, chill out, eat and get comfy is being lapped up by the team at New Wave. Despite feeling incredibly claustrophobic at my table, the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly.
The Main Event
New Wave (or second wave) hails from humble Mackie Mayor, always serving up delicious bowls of tasty ramen. I was hopeful that the new Tib Lane site would impress.
New Wave seems to have the trifecta of founders spot on. Phil Cook, Matt Walsh, and Elliott Williams all having spent time in Japan and nurturing a passion for Japanese cuisine seems to be a fantastic starting point for a successful ramen restaurant. With impressive resumes and plenty of experience in the craft of noodle making, Phil Cook and Matt Walsh bring some exciting twists to a solid foundation of their tasty new menu. To top it off Elliot Williams, DJ and keys player for Editors, offers his own ambient playlist to accompany the food. We have truly been spoiled!
Now to the important bit - the food. Have you ever looked at a mackerel and thought 'that’s cute'? No, me neither - until the mackerel with its burnt cucumber ponzu came out. Why did the fishies look so adorable? They tasted fresh, smokey and tangy all at once - a nice little journey for the tastebuds. In fact it was so good my tongue piercing actually fell out mid-meal.
Next came the lamb chops, which are profoundly not Japanese and so felt a bit out of place, but nonetheless were succulent and flavourful. If you’re going to offer something off-piste, at least do it well. No complaints there.
We ordered a skewer of padron peppers in the hope that it might come with some sort of twist. The twist was, in fact, the skewer. They tasted of padron peppers. Nothing to write home about, so I’ll leave it there.
We were particularly excited for the duck sando, another new addition to the menu. Described poetically by Jonathan Schofield as a “posh sausage sandwich”. Sausage sandwiches are notoriously delicious, and this was no different. I can confirm it was in fact duck, not pork, which was cooked perfectly, and the milk bread is made in house by the talented chefs.
We had the mushroom miso ramen for the final stint of our mains. It was a soy and mushroom broth with miso and pickled mushrooms and celeriac on top.
I wasn’t sure if I liked it at first, but perhaps because it wasn’t a flavour I was expecting in Ramen. Once I’d got used to it I started to thoroughly enjoy how the sharpness from the pickled vegetables cut through the creamy miso flavour. It made the bowl memorable, which is more than I can say for most ramens I’ve tried in the past.
The expertly cooked noodles were topped with a whole cured egg. I was nervous to cut into it, as all I wanted in life was a jammy egg. I was also particularly nervous that the egg was going to fly across the room, but once I’d prized it open with my chopsticks, I was delighted to see the prize inside!
We finished up with a black sesame cheesecake, possibly the most determinedly unsweet dessert ever, but for some reason I couldn’t stop eating it. Even the crispy black sesame topping disappeared somehow.
All of this was washed down with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc which was particularly enjoyable. So enjoyable that, in fact, I lied… we had two bottles. I also tried the ginger and mandarin espresso Martini-esque drink. It didn’t work for me, the coffee and the ginger was just too bitter and the mandarin didn’t do much to help sweeten the deal. Next time I’d like to try some of the Sake which I hear they have a decent collection of.
New Wave is another great addition to the ramen scene and to Tib Lane for that matter. The staff were really welcoming and happy to talk us through what we were having. It was smiles all round (I guess it would be if you've got to eat noodles every day?).
This isn’t just another ramen joint. The owners and the chefs are clearly trying new things - most of which are complete hits - whilst still keeping a firm grip on the authentic and comforting flavours that Japanese food is famous for.
If you’ve got a pang for ramen, try New Wave first - you won’t be disappointed!
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, and ALWAYS paid for by Confidentials.com and completely independent of any commercial relationship. They are a first-person account of one visit by one, knowledgeable restaurant reviewer and don't represent the company as a whole.
If you want to see the receipt as proof this magazine paid for the meal then a copy will be available upon request. Or maybe ask the restaurant.
Venues are rated against the best examples of their type. What we mean by this is a restaurant which aspires to be fine dining is measured against other fine dining restaurants, a mid-range restaurant against other mid-range restaurants, a pizzeria against other pizzerias, a teashop against other teashops, a KFC against the contents of your bin. You get the message.
Given the above, this is how we score: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: sigh and shake your head, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: nothing's that good is it?
Mackerel 9, Lamb Chops 8.5, Padron 6, Duck Sando 8.5, Miso Ramen 8, Cheesecake 6.5