The name ‘Tampopo’ is apparently taken from the title of a cult Japanese film: a film where the heroine (named Tampopo – meaning ‘dandelion’) finds herself on a quest for the perfect bowl of noodles. And this is the aim of the restaurant: to focus on the food of East Asia and to create ‘faithful reproductions of classics free from gimmickry and interpretation’.
The Leeds restaurant is one of six branches of this mini-chain, with three restaurants in Manchester, one in Bristol and one in Reading - with one opening soon in London Rathbone Place. The sad news is that it is closing in Leeds - I don't know why? Perhaps it is too close to its rival Wagamamas or maybe the location isn't that central. I am disappointed as it's got a great selection of veggie dishes and I am mainly veggie so...
On first impression, it’s very Wagamama-like in its style: long benches at which you sit with other parties of diners, a similar style of food, individual orders scribbled on the paper place mats placed in front of each diner, which show a map of where in East Asia each of the menu’s dishes originated.
My favourite dish here is the pad thai as it reminds me of 20p dishes from food trucks on the Ko San Road. They give you your own lime wedges and plenty of peanuts on top. This visit I opted for the Thai green curry (a fav of mine) I love that you get wedges of the mini Thai aubergines, the other veggies were really crunchy and fresh too but I found the coconut milk overpowering this time and it could have had more spice for my palette - I added some hot sauce to it. One of my fellow diners had the chicken katsu curry, which looked like a generous portion and came with a ginger and sesame salad and sticky rice which is a good deal for under a tenner. Another had the chicken abodo which came with an unusual tasting sticky sauce and some yummy deep fried sweet potatoe.
For starter we went for a variety of skewers: the prawn skewers were the fav by far. I always have the sweetcorn fritters which are a nice combo of sweet and savory and come with a mild plum dipping sauce with mini wedges of cucumber and peanuts floating in it which I like to fish out with my chop sticks! The platter to share seems like a good value starter for a group of 4 too.
I didn't go for dessert this time but have tried and loved (in the past) the coconut icecream which is refreshing and light and the deep fried bananas with toffee with a peanut coating. I would highly recommend both - but the ice-cream if you are feeling quite full.
- great variety of veggie dishes
- informal and casual setting
- interesting starters
- great pad thai
- good value
- not the greatest service - bit haphazard