The idea behind Tampopo Supper Clubs is to take diners on a culinary journey, giving them a chance to sample dishes they might not usually order. We went to the restaurant in Albert Square to try it – a Malaysian and Singaporean evening on this occasion but other cuisines are available.
Well over half the restaurant was filled with Supper Club diners and this was only the first sitting at 6pm with another due to start at 8pm (Trafford Centre and Corn Exchange were hosting their own Supper Clubs simultaneously so clearly the concept is already proving popular across the group.)
Malaysia shares a lot of its cuisine with Singapore and it is common to see versions of the same dish across both sides of the border. Similar spices and coconut milk are prevalent in both countries. Malaysian food maybe slightly more complex and diverse with greater Indian and Indonesian influence, with Chinese ingredients coming through a bit more in Singaporean cooking.
Our welcome drink was a well-balanced Singapore Sling, a long gin-based drink with pineapple and grenadine, created in 1915 by a Hainanese bartender working at the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel, Singapore. The drink is included in the £22 price, as well as five savoury and one sweet course from across the two countries.
Satay Chicken & Nasi Rice
A real crowd pleaser and one of their best sellers. The Satay chicken is wonderfully moist and coated in a very fresh and chunky homemade peanut sauce. There was a massive kick in the Nasi rice flavoured with belacan (shrimp) paste. But why only two big prawn crackers? I want more of these please!
Singaporean Veg Curry
This was a very creamy, mild, yellow curry with some super juicy and puffy tofu, the likes of which I have never come across before. Coconut milk, sweet potato, galangal, cherry tomatoes and turmeric all create a slightly sweet and sour vegan course with lots of depth.
Singapore Vermicelli Noodles
These are quite dry noodles (their style) packed with flavour from the prawns, egg, char siu pork and chicken. It said on the menu a mild curry flavour, but to me they tasted more stocky from the meat in there
What is very strange is that I am not one of those people that loves really spicy food but I love hot soups. I’m a massive fan of a prawn tom yum and the spicier the better. And now I can add this one to my list. A stunning and fiery coconut broth with yellow noodles, chicken, mint, cucumber and coriander. The amount of flavours whirling round your palate is a joy. Now pass me the water.
This is like a slow cooked beef curry stew, the meat tender and packed with flavour from the six hours it’s cooked in coconut, chilli, galangal and lemongrass. The pineapple and cucumber salad is fresh, sweet and cooling on the side.
Roti & Cinnamon Ice Cream
This was a successful little dessert. I’m not the biggest fan of cinnamon but they hadn’t put in too much to overpower the creamy ice cream. And the roti was a joy. It was like an Asian version of a baklava but made with their roti style pancake instead of filo pastry. Similar honey flavours came through though from the condensed milk and sugar. A great way to finish our meal.
This was a genuinely interesting journey with our server providing the backdrop of knowledge on each dish. The use of coconut and some spices are a common link throughout, giving the cuisines their distinctive sweetness. And the one ingredient that really surprised me was cucumber. I have never seen it used in so many different and successful ways – one minute in a cooling salad, the next used to sweeten and add texture in a soup.
The style of service is very informal and staggered as not everyone arrives at the same time for our sitting. What is a breath of fresh air is that The Supper Club is a good way to get everyone talking to each other about the food as we are all eating. The bench style seating helps with this. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable evening for all ages and palates with something for everyone, but it was surprising just how much our opinions differed. The Laksa was a little too spicy for my ten year old and another guest at our table but for me this was the stand-out dish of the night. Perfect!