‘COTTONOPOLIS IS A JAPANESE INSPIRED RESTAURANT AND BAR BASED IN A GRADE II LISTED BUILDING IN MANCHESTER’S NORTHERN QUARTER.’
Cottonopolis offer a variety of Japanese inspired artistic menus of food and drink. Although not normally thought of as a vegan-friendly restaurant, in the spirit of Veganuary, they created a special menu specifically designed for a vegan tasting event. Priced at £30 per head, the menu was not cheap, however, for 8 courses and incredible quality of food, it was highly worth it. After ordering our drinks we were also given complimentary purple tortilla chips with avocado salsa as a snack, (which was delicious). We booked a week in advance for this event, and due to high demand, we payed beforehand to secure our booking. This shows the increasing demand for vegan food, particularly this month for Veganuary!
Being vegan now over a year and a half, i have come to realise that most vegan eateries are either lower quality fast food or very repetitive meals (vegetable pasta or pizza), so it was amazing to have an insight into the creative potential of plant based ingredients in a higher quality restaurant. I’m hoping that due to the popularity and demand of the vegan tasting menu, Cottonopolis will introduce some of the dishes as part of the permanent menu.
Course 1: RED PEPPER AND AVOCADO DRAGON ROLL
The first course of the evening was undeniably my favourite! I absolutely love sushi and this particular one was so creamy and flavourful! The textures worked together perfectly.
Also, we were supposed to have one plate to share but the waitress accidentally gave us one each, we definitely weren’t complaining. This also came with wasabi, pickled ginger and soy sauce.
Course 2: BEETROOT AND WASABI NORI TACOS
I’ve used nori in many recipes before, but have never had it crispy. It almost takes away the ‘flavour of the sea’ taste (which is in my opinion a good thing) and gives it a sturdy and hard texture.
With avocado as a main ingredient again, i had nothing to complain about! This also came with the same extras as the first course.
Course 3: PULLED TERIYAKI JACKFRUIT BAO
Another incredible course was this rich teriyaki Japanese bao. The flavours were extremely strong, almost pungent and the jackfruit was distinctly meaty in texture. This was definitely one of my favourite dishes and was plated so beautifully.
We were presented with 2 bao alongside (what I believe was) a creamy peanut satay dip.
Course 4: SEITAN MUSHROOM TRUFFLE GYOZA
As gyoza is my favourite japanese food, it was my most anticipated course of the whole menu. Despite the seitan flavour being somewhat masked by the mushroom, it was still a beautiful dish, from the all-round taste to the presentation.
The gyoza itself was crisp in contrast to the dense filling and was plated alongside an incredible sauce, (though I’m not sure what was in it).
Course 5: GRILLED KABOCHA PUPMKIN WITH ONION, KIMCHI AND KALE
My favourite element of this dish was the kimchi, the tang brought together the smoky and sweet flavours of the pumpkin. The skin of the pumpkin was almost inedible due to the charring, but the inside was soft and subtly sweet.
I found this visually appealing as it was the brightest and most colourful course of the menu.
Course 6: RAINBOW CORN ON THE COB WITH LIME, CHILLI AND CORIANDER
The most interesting and original element of the evening was definitely the Cottonopolis take on corn. Along with the 2 large cobs, we were served a lightly flavoured bowl of popcorn and 2 un-cooked cobs. The cobs were labelled ‘pop me’ and ‘grow me’ and we were instructed by the waiter to take them home and do just that. This was a lovely addition to the meal to carry on the experience once home and a chance to grow your own vegetables (obviously favoured by vegans).
Course 7: MISO AUBERGINE NASU GENKAN AND LOTUS
Along with its many health benefits, lotus root adds a unique look to asian dishes. I have always wanted to try it in my own cooking, though it was interesting having it fried and crisp.
The aubergine/ eggplant was cooked to perfection and was packed with strong aromatic flavours.
Course 8: MOCHI AND RASPBERRY DOUGHNUTS WITH CHOCOLATE SAUCE
The final course of the evening was DESSERT. The doughnut holes had a thick external sugar layer and were soft and puffy inside. The raspberries were tart and full of flavour from the glaze. Last but certainly not least, the chocolate sauce was intensely rich and smooth. Completely without fault.
Cocktails: UKIYO & THE VANISHING WEST
As part of the event, Cottonopolis had created a wine menu that was available for an extra £25 per person, which included 4 glasses of hand-picked vegan wines. As i would have been on the floor after that much wine, i decided to stick to cocktails, priced at £9 each. The staff were extremely welcoming and very clued up when it came to which drinks were vegan. My boyfriend ordered a pint of ale and was politely informed by the waitress that it wasn’t vegan. Though he isn’t vegan, so he still ordered the drink, it was very reassuring that the staff had so much product knowledge and were so willing to help!
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