New menu: From February 28th until April 8th, Six by Nico Deansgate takes guests on a culinary journey to Vietnam with its new menu, Hanoi, a city renowned for its dynamic street food scene and vibrant flavours. The all-new six-course tasting experience celebrates the wonderful flavours the city has to offer, with inspiration provided along the way from Hanoi locals.
The first dish, Bún Riêu, combines Vietnamese shellfish foam with spiced pork ragu, crispy noodles and wild rice. The menu continues with dishes such as the Chả Cá Lã Vọng with coal fish, coconut and coriander chutney, Vietnamese curry, bok choy, herbs & Bánh Đa, and the Bánh Trôi dessert is made with palm sugar delice, kumquat, lime and ginger mousse.
A six-course vegetarian menu is also available, with dishes such as the Gỏi Xoài featuring crispy tofu, sweet potato hash, sesame broccoli & burnt mango, and the Bún Nám with mushroom, bánh phở noodle, coriander, beansprouts and crispy shallot.
Priced at £39 per person with the option to enjoy an expert drink pairing with a £30 supplement.
Restaurant review November 2023: Six By Nico has done it again. This new Deansgate venue is bigger and grander than the (very good) Spring Gardens location, while the staff and food are as high quality as ever. New to the concept? It’s arguably one of the most important restaurant ideas in recent years, opening up the world of fine dining to all, by offering accessible and affordable tasting menus, switching to a new concept every six weeks, hence the name.
A wealth of inspiration goes into each course, demonstrating deep knowledge of all kinds of cuisines, from the humble British chip shop (reworked into something beautiful, naturally) to Thai, Catalonia, Mexico, and many more. The launch of this second Manchester branch sees an old favourite re-enter the mix: Cooking Tokyo. It’s a journey celebrating the best of Japanese food, inspired by a trip to Tokyo by the eponymous Nico and his team.
The opening salvo of chicken karaage is a juicy little morsel, full of deep chicken thigh flavour. The barely-there batter is well-spiced, crisp and satisfying, smartly contrasted with shavings of pickled ginger. A sweet sparkling Spumante from Emilia-Romagna washes it down nicely, leading you into the next dish, where it comes into its own.
The enoki mushroom tempura is a work of art – almost too beautiful to eat. The small tree of deep-fried enoki may look delicate yet has a gnarly crunch. Beside it, atop a quenelle of mushroom duxelle, sits an array of carefully interspersed daikon and raw mushroom discs dusted with cep powder. The whole thing is decorated with dots of zingy ponzu gel, and may possibly be the mushroomiest mushroom that ever mushroomed.
Next up is the okonomiyaki. This is a supremely rich version of the beloved Japanese pancake dish. A semi-circlet of fluffy pork & prawn pancake is topped with lashings of date-flavoured okonomi sauce and kewpie mayo. The pork, tasting much like char sui, is seriously meaty and well complemented by large chunks of succulent prawn, full of flavour. The light red French wine pairing is absolutely spot on to balance out the strong flavours of this dish.
The ‘ramen’ which follows is not what it seems. Subversively, the kitchen team has omitted the noodles, normally central to the meal. In a rich and exciting tasting menu, this is a wise, albeit surprising, choice as it allows the rest of the ingredients to sing. A crispy-skinned miso sea bass comes with a dinky little fish gyoza, Tokyo turnip, shimeji mushroom and gloriously sticky cured egg yolk. Your waiter will provide a little theatre by pouring out a light and fragrant kombu dashi across the lot, before your very eyes.
Our brilliant waiter, Alice, rather accurately introduces its pairing of Viile Metamorfosis Fetească Regală as “a complex wine for a complex dish”. This vanilla-scented dry white is tangy, apricot tinged, and, we’re reliably informed, very popular at Romanian weddings.
Tonkatsu comes next. Belly pork is coated in an unctuous yakitori sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Its titular neighbour on the plate is a perfectly executed slice of pork cutlet in crispy panko coating, topped with lightly spiced Hokkaido pumpkin purée. Between them nestles a quenelle of “ham jam”, a concoction we would seriously love to take home to spread on toast. There’s a little blob of surprisingly spicy mayonnaise with sesame overtones and a garnish of caramelised white cabbage. Goes fantastically well with a Hungarian Merlot, in case you were wondering.
Finally, you’re treated to the whimsical Strawberry Candy: a sublimely creamy white chocolate parfait with strawberry gel, matcha sponge, delicate meringue crumble, strawberry sorbet and a strawberry-flavoured sugar shard. Naturally, this is matched with a terrifically sweet dessert wine – a late-harvest Viognier Sauvignon Blanc.
As ever, Nico can do no wrong. Six courses, all excellent, with one or two up there with Manchester’s best. Voted the second-best of the Six By Nico menus by customers, Cooking Tokyo is a great introduction to the restaurant for newcomers, and for experienced hands, it’s a welcome reminder of why we love it so.