This week Ancoats welcomed the arrival of Lucky Ramen, a late night ramen and cocktail bar that takes over coffee and brunch specialists Mule from 5pm.
Opening up Wednesday to Sunday every week, Lucky Ramen will be staying open and serving ramen until 10pm on most nights, but will be extending this to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
The stunning, tiny space at Mule is the perfect setting for what essentially becomes a Tokyo late night ramen bar, where you can sit up at the counter with your bowl, watching the food being made in the kitchen and cocktails being poured.
The menu itself is extensive for such a small venue. Every ingredient is considered, from the 3-hour slow braised pork, to the 24 hour tea-brined eggs, right down to the all important broth, which is cooked over the course of 8 hours.
Alongside the ramen is a menu of starters, including Crispy Tempura Soft Shell Crab (£6.90) which comes with pickled cucumber, ginger and ponzu, Japanese Karaage Chicken (£4.90) and Japanese Tacos topped with perfectly seared pork belly char-siu and smokey chilli mayo.
The Ramen bowls themselves, well, we were seriously impressed. With hand-made and hand-rolled noodles, and a chef that has over 15 year’s worth of experience with ramen – they’re not messing about here. This is serious stuff indeed.
There are two important things that you need to get right when you’re looking to make brilliant ramen. One of them is the balance of ingredients – something that, as you can see from the images – Lucky have cracked.
The other? Well, it’s the broth of course – and again, Lucky impress. Creamy, spicy, vegan – I tried them all and I must say, they really hold their own up against some seriously strong competition elsewhere in the city.
You see, Lucky joins a wealth of already well established and loved ramen restaurants in the city centre, the result of what many could consider our own little ‘Ramen Revolution’ in recent years.
Just a few minute’s walk from Mule in Ancoats you’ll find CBRB, Tokyo Ramen, New Wave Ramen in Mackie Mayor and Rainy City Ramen Club in Feel Good Club. Is the city big enough for more ramen?
Speaking to the team down at Lucky, and it’s clear that one of the biggest reasons for the restaurant’s inception was that they wanted to create a late night food offering for the people of Ancoats, something that has been sorely missing as the neighbourhood has grown.
Serving food until midnight on the weekends is a great idea, and something I think that the residents of Ancoats will flock to in their droves – meaning if you’re after a late-night after party dinner – Lucky is your place.
Another string to Lucky Ramen’s bow is their excellent cocktail menu, which has been designed by the very talented team at Mule – so you know that you’re getting something good. It’s generally agreed within the Manchester’s Finest office that Mule does some of the best cocktails in the city – and these new ones definitely live up to this.
By this point it’s generally accepted that most people will already have their favourite ramen joint in the city, and are unlikely to want to deviate from challenging this. But you really should give Lucky in Mule a chance – they may have turned up a little bit late to the party – but then again – all the most interesting people do!
We were really impressed with the attention to detail on display here, not just with the balance of the bowls, but the broth, the starters and the fantastic cocktails.
Lucky certainly holds its own against the other ramen joints in the city, and is an excellent new addition to an already exciting offering in Manchester. It may be time to give some of these places a re-visit, alongside Lucky to re-evaluate which one is your best.
Lucky Ramen is open from 5pm Wednesday – Sunday. Walk-ins only.