FLOATING on the surface of a bowl of ramen the obligatory egg shines like a soft orange sun. Tip it over in the rich bone broth, teeming with noodles, and it reveals its savoury dark side.
It always fascinates me how they create this nitimago (otherwise known as a hanjuku ramen egg, ajitsuku tamago, molten egg or lava egg). Whatever, the egg is hard-boiled, cooled, plunged into a sauce of tsuyu, cooking sake, soy sauce, mirin, pepper and ginger, then left in the fridge for a couple of days before serving.
Like an old friend it welcomes me back to Shoryu Ramen in Piccadilly Gardens, who have created a summer-friendly range of ramens, some chilled, and exotic cocktails. Yet I can’t resist a signature ramen that would warm the cockles of your being in deepest winter – their delicious Kimchi Seafood Tonkotsu (below, £14.50).
It’s a fiery broth featuring the Korean fermented cabbage, prawns, scallops, squid, kikurage mushrooms, nori seaweed, spring onion, seasoned beansprouts, sesame, fried shallots and that nitimago naturally.
It decorates my companion’s more workaday main off the summer menu, a Red Miso Ramen, a milder combo of barbecue pork, sweetcorn, bamboo shoots, spring onions and kikurage mushrooms for £11.90.
Miso sauce features with our Marmite moment of a side – a wobbly square of black sesame tofu, topped with tenderstem broccoli (£6.50). Sweet and savoury at the same time, we couldn’t get to grips with this dish.
For starters we shared fine Soft Shell Crab Tempura (£9.50) and Veg Tempura a generous helping for £8.50 of aubergine, sweet potato, broccoli tempuras, and vegetable croquette served with curry salt.
The obvious accompaniment would have been a £7.50 sake flight, featuring three contrasting examples served warm. Instead, with a chaser of fine Hitachi Nest Classic Ale (£5.80) we made a foray into the Shoryu ‘limited edition’ summer cocktail list (all £10).
Their Kaoru Lavender is the essence of summer. We both loved this floral concoction of Jinzu gin, Josen sake, St Germain, fresh cucumber and a discreet hint of lavender.
Ultimately the Okinawan Colada, a twist on the classic piña colada in homage to Japan’s exotic Southern islands, proved too sweet for me. It’s stealthily potent, too, made with coconut cream, pineapple juice and raspberry and then blended with Bacardi rum, Cor Cor red rum and coconut rum.
Created by Tak Tokumine, CEO of the Japan Centre in London’s Piccadilly, this is one metropolitan chain that really makes a contribution in Manchester.
Shoryu Ramen, 1 Piccadilly, Manchester M1 1RG. Until the end of August, from Tuesday to Thursday restaurant goers can enjoy any ramen* of their choice for just £9.90. Plus every day 5pm-8pm there’s a Happy Hour 2 for 1 offer across the cocktail list.