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Mana goes Mexican with tostadas, tacos and mezcal

The limited edition kit is inspired by Michelin starred chef Simon Martin’s time cooking in Tulum, Mexico

First a burger, then a lobster roll. And now, Michelin starred Mana has gone Mexican with a new special limited edition menu.

The Ancoats restaurant is offering a takeaway box of tacos, tostadas and mezcal for this week only, with a menu inspired by chef Simon Martin’s time cooking in Tulum, Mexico.

Available via pre-order, for collection only, the kit arrives as a selection of ingredients and preparations which only require basic assembly and heating.

“Enjoy the process and don’t worry about getting something wrong,” say the instructions, which you access via a QR code.

“Mexican food is rustic and full of love, as long as you have that, it’s all you need.”

And it’s easy to be full of love once you’ve fired up the themed Spotify playlist and poured a belter of a margarita.

Pre-mixed, the cocktail’s made with smoky mezcal, a distilled spirit made from the agave plant. Shaken with Cointreau and citrus, it packs a hefty punch – as does the chapulines (toasted grasshopper) and chilli salt you use to coat the rim of the glass.

Then it’s time to prepare the tostada – a crisp tortilla made from hand-pressed heirloom corn from Oaxaca – which just needs a minute in a hot oven.

A stunning piece of cod that has already been gently cured for 24 hours requires chopping into small cubes, but that’s pretty much it on the prep front – the rest is simple assembly.

You just pipe the smooth Serrano guacamole, which comes ready in a piping bag, into the centre of each tostada, then spread it with the back of a spoon as though you’re spreading tomato sauce around a pizza base.

Top it with drained tomato hearts, then tip the Roscoff onions into the container of lacto tomato and kelp and mix, splitting evenly between each tostada.

Add the diced cod and the lovage, and you’re ready to go.

It’s simply exquisite, each bite delivering delicate cod, tostada crunch and avocado creaminess along with a nicely balanced sharpness and the unmistakable hit of lovage – like parsley and celery with a hint of aniseed.

Mexican cuisine is clearly close to chef Simon’s heart, having spent 14 weeks living and working at a pop-up in Tulum back in 2017, and the passion shines through.

But so does the love of incredible ingredients, treated to produce the most extraordinary flavours and textures, elevating what could be very simple food to another level.

And there’s still the tacos to come.

The filling is hot-smoked suckling pig, which requires a gentle mix with pork fat dressing before a quick blast in the microwave.

Each tortilla – three per person – is warmed in a hot and dry frying pan on both sides for 15 seconds, and the avocado sliced, before assembling.

Avocado first, then the pig meat seasoned with a little Halen Mon sea salt from Anglesey before dressing with native coriander seed salsa, habanero chilli paste and a squeeze of fresh lime.

“Enjoy” says the last instruction – and we certainly do.

Fun to assemble and an utter joy to eat, this is as good as tacos get.

“What if we never get to eat tacos like this again?” we wonder, pupils dilated, the juicy filling dripping down our hands.

But then Mambo No. 5 comes on the Spotify playlist and we burst out laughing, and drain the last of the margaritas.

This is as close to a night out as we’re going to get right now – and it’s just what we needed.

The taco kits are available via pre-order only, £40 per person for a minimum of two, to be collected from the restaurant between 10th-13th March – so if you’ve missed out this time we’ll have to hope they’re available again soon. In the meantime, there are still slots available for the famed Mana cheeseburger here.

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