On the whole, it seems that Manchester is fond of the pop-up. Perhaps it's the sense of novelty that a temporary bar or restaurant provides; perhaps it's the combination of the innovative and new with the reassuringly familiar that some of these temporary installations offer; perhaps it's just that we like to maximise our eating and drinking opportunities by having even more places to choose from. Either way, Manchester has embraced the pop-up with some enthusiasm, and I would be surprised if the endearing little Tampopo venue (the Tam Pop-up, of course) that has appeared in Exchange Square isn't a big success over the coming months.
This is a pop-up with a practical purpose behind it as well - as its former home, The Corn Exchange, is currently undergoing a massive refurbishment, Tampopo have moved back onto the streets until this is all completed early next summer. And it works well - Tampopo's street-food inspired menu translates well to the casual environment of the new venue, offering a pared-down menu that I would happily polish off in its entirety (and I had a pretty good go at doing this at the launch party the other week). My favourite dish of the evening was a new one - Tampopo's first Bahn Mi, a Vietnemese pork baguette that lends itself perfectly to being eaten in one's fingers (even if it is quite hard to hold one's wine glass at the same time); even better, 50p from the sale of each one will go to Mines Advisory Group, a landmine clearing charity. Other standout dishes included an excellent Nasi Goreng, an Indonesian rice dish packed with flavour and served with addictively crunchy onion flakes, and there is also a good range of decent beers and wines to wash everything down with.
The venue itself is both cute and functional, with room for up to 35 diners at its little plastic stools and tables as well as a takeaway service. You can watch them cook your food in the open kitchen, and the glass roof protects from the Manchester elements - apparently heaters will be installed as winter approaches. I for one can think of few things I'd rather do than escape the crush of the Christmas Markets and come down here for some fresh Thai food - with the arrival of the temporary Aumbrey restaurant this week as well, the Manchester pop-up is clearly alive and well.
- Tam Pop-up is on Exchange Square, and is open from noon till 9pm every day (and perhaps a little later on weekends).