Zouk Tea Bar and Grill, Manchester
Ah, Zouk Tea Bar and Grill, the amazing things I have heard about you! I’ve had Zouk on my culinary radar for over a year now, but for one reason or another I’ve never managed to make it to the restaurant in Manchester to enjoy a meal. Praised for their authentic menu of contemporary Pakistani and Indian foods, Zouk not only boasts an impressive menu, but also an open kitchen where you can go and have a peek at all of the delicious food being freshly made. As soon as we walked in early on Saturday evening we spotted the kitchen, which was already fully a-buzz with the chefs preparing the array of spicy adventures for our taste buds to enjoy.
As soon as we settled in to our seats we were greeted with a tray of poppadoms and a selection of pickles and dips. For something which is usually quite a mundane part of a curry based meal, the presentation alone more than made them more exciting than usual! Each sauce and dip was clearly made in-house, as they all varied in texture, colour and taste to any other curry restaurant I’ve experience. Although I must admit, I did miss out slightly on the tangy sourness of the lime pickle I usually have. Although saying that, each flavour was still equally as delicious, despite being a little different. For £2.50 per person, the poppadoms were definitely a great start to the meal! Even the more affordable curry houses in Stoke tend to charge around that price (if not slightly more) for poppadoms and a pickle tray.
For the main starter we shared a Zouk original creation, which was basically a take on Chinese duck pancakes. For the Indian version though, we were treated to a large helping of crispy, chewy, deliciously seasoned lamb, with pickles, dip and some soft wraps. With two wraps each, this was on the larger side of what you’d expect a starter to be – which definitely got a massive thumbs up! What can I say? I’m a piggy.
For our main courses, we chose to share two curries alongside cashew rice, gunpowder chips and a tandoori roti. Apparently its not a ‘done’ thing to have half rice and half chips with a curry, but this classic never dies in my eyes. I simply cannot have a curry with just one or the other. The cashew rice was an absolutely culinary dream come true. There’s something about cashew nuts in a savoury dish which I really like. The texture goes so well, especially with curry dishes.
The main courses themselves were a Goan Fish Curry (bottom on the above pictures) and Chicken Achari Chicken. I’ve had a Goan Fish Curry a few times before, but never have they had such large, meaty chunks of tender fish in like this one before. I chose to go for a medium spice, but this was definitely spicier than I required. However, it was nice to have a spicy dish which you could still taste of the flavour of, even when your tastebuds are burning!
Achari Chicken was something I read on the specials menu, but had no idea what to expect, which is partly why we chose it. And oh.my.goodness. The depth of flavour was the most intense and amazing thing I’ve had in my mouth for a good while. On first bite you get an tangy, sourness from the pickle base, but as you chew it develops in to a creamy, spicy flavour. It was delicious. Teamed with the cashew rice somehow made it even tastier.
To polish off the meal we decided to be ‘sensible’ and share a dessert with a Espresso Martini each. The Mango Cheesecake wasn’t quite to my taste, as I’m not a massive fan of mango in general; I just find it too syrupy. But I was assured, for someone who liked mango, this was a taste sensation. The pistachio ice cream on the other hand…. I’ve been craving it ever since! I’m a sucker for pistachio ice cream and whenever I spot it I HAVE to have it (because it seems to be quite rare round these parts!). Out of all the pistachio ice creams I have had in my lifetime, this pistachio ice cream is the one. The flavour, the creaminess, the occasional chunk of pistachio nut… I could go back time and time again just to order this by the bucket full!
All in all, a fantastic meal was had by all at Zouk Tea Bar and Grill, Manchester! Not only do they provide amazing meals, but I just found out that they also do COOKERY CLASSES TOO (see the choice for that online here!). I can only imagine the dinner party power one would possess after taking part in one of those, learning the culinary skills of what seems to be some of the best curry chefs in Manchester.
Have you been to Zouk Manchester yet?