Luxury modern Chinese cuisine and cherry blossom trees: enter the heady ambience of Manchester's Tattu restaurant
We’re indoors, sat beneath a cherry blossom in full bloom. The air is heady with incense and we’re eating what looks to be a plate of the most beautiful coral reef found in the seven seas. Welcome to Tattu, the newest restaurant to arrive in Manchester’s trendy Spinningfields district.
If you haven’t guessed from our description, Tattu assaults the senses. Like the images of tattoos that festoon its walls, the restaurant is beautifully designed, down to the smallest detail. The previously mentioned blossom tree is fake of course, but it takes a second, then a third closer look to spot where the silk ‘blossoms’ have been sewn into the preserved branches of the long dead tree. Even once you’ve identified the seams, it’s still breathtaking.
This attention to detail and opulent design extends to the modern Chinese menu. The dim sum chef's MO appears to be to take familiar Chinese dishes and incorporate lavish ingredients: crunchy prawn toast becomes lobster and prawn toast; the chicken shumai is pimped with truffles; beef gyoza is upgraded with foie gras. The latter proves the pick of the quartet of dim sum we try. The attentive waitress recommends that we eat the gyoza whole: they can get a bit messy if you bite into them, she tells us. The soft dumpling explodes in your mouth and is utterly moreish. If you visit Tattu, they’re a must try. The wild mushroom spring rolls, served with truffle sour cream, are also popular at our table. The lobster doesn't really improve on the prawn toast, though.
The star of the mains is the saffron miso black cod. The chunky slab of fish is perfectly cooked, its flesh sweet and moist, the white flakes a sharp visual contrast with the blackened surface, which gives the fish an earthy balance. The razor clams and sausage served on half a razor clam shell prove a worthy accompaniment. Also expertly cooked are the slightly spiced lamb chops, which are wonderfully tender, with the bones cleaned and looking dainty. For our tastes, though, we’d have liked a little of the fat left on.
Of the mains we order, one proves a disaster: the chilli glazed smoked aubergine, served with a sour kohlrabi salad. The salad is fine, but the aubergine itself is not pleasant: bitter, and over-smoked. Two portions were ordered, but even between the four of us we can’t make a dent in them. The wild mushroom hotpot, the only other veggie main, isn’t available on the night we're there, but if you're averse to fish or meat, we recommend this instead.
Dessert will be a while longer, the waitress tells us apologetically. But this delay is understandable: it takes 20 minutes to assemble each plate. When they arrive, it’s easy to see why. We order both options: The Silk Road and Cherry Blossom. The former, a delicate assortment of jellies, foams and mallows served on a shortbread crumb, resembles a tropical seabed crawling with exotic crustacea in various shades of pink. Cherry Blossom is like The Silk Road’s black forest cousin. Its base is a chocolate crumb, with biscuit twigs, mushrooms made of velvety chocolate mousse and rich pools of sour cherry covering the cocoa woodland's floor. Both offer an explosion of flavours and textures, but, more importantly, they are playful. This is a venue to wow, but it’s also a place you can have some fun.
If you liked Tattu, try:
Wing's, Lincoln Sq, Manchester
Red Chilli, Oxford Rd, Manchester
Chy, Lark Ln, Liverpool
Tattu, 3 Hardman Square, Gartside St, Manchester M3 3EB