IT’S a mouthful Cocktail Beer Ramen + Bun. Not just the name but a bowl of their noodles in broth sure packs some content. We popped in at noon, the aim to take advantage of their lunch menu (it lasts until 5pm), which offers you a nano ramen plus bun for just a tenner.
Alas, one spanner in the stockpot. All the ramens are offered in half portion, ie nano, except the one we always crave – the £14.50 Crab Tonkotsu, a multi-clawed monster of a bowlful. So how could at least one of us resist?
It has been shortlisted for Casual Restaurant of the Year in the 2019 Manchester Food and Drink Awards against some pretty stiff competition – Dishoom, Sugo, Rudy’s – but none of these offer a dish as compelling as this signature long-simmered tonkotsu broth, made with pork bones and oozing creamy collagen.
That is enhanced with spicy crab curry, padron peppers, spring onions, coriander and mayu sesame oil as a backing choir to the star, a whole soft shell crab. Oh and as an essential support act, ajitsuke tamago, that sunny, marinated boiled egg.
It’s fiery stuff, a riff really on traditional ramen. Co-owners Co-owners Ben Gretton and Tom De Santis are not hidebound by any sacred Japanese rule book. They also, whisper it softly, may also source more sustainably than a country with an insatiable appetite for pigginess. Their pork is free range from Cumbria – both broth bones and the double char siu pork belly and crackling that sits atop their signature tonkotsu (£12). Xo sauce adds umami and there’s sesame oil and spring onions contributing their flavours.
Vegans can stop looking away now – it’s not all about pork broth. The Green Ramen across the table (£6.50 for the nano version) was made with a gren herb and chillie veggie broth and was a smaller scale riot of tenderstem broccoli, padrons, wakame and more. Quite lovely in its own right.
And let’s not forget CBR+B is also nominated in the Best Bar category, too. But serious investigation of that side is not for midweek lunchtimes.
Cocktail, Beer, Ramen + Bun, 101-103 Oldham Street, Manchester M4 1LW.