Obviously with the pandemic and everything that has happened between the course of 2020 till 2021, there hasn’t been much room for exploration of food venues in Manchester up until a few months ago, when everything gradually opened in the UK. But even then I never really explored much, too shy to try new things, sticking with the common mainstream food services you see everywhere. But recently, I decided I’d let one of my friends choose where we eat, and to my surprise, it was somewhere I’ve passed a lot during my time going to the city centre: Hatch.
Hatch is kind of like an indoor/outdoor terrace featuring many independent retailers, breweries & restaurants. I’ve passed the colourful and bright building on Oxford Road many times and never thought about going in there. But for the first time? It’s definitely something interesting, with the added plus of just trying some food that isn’t from a multi-million-dollar food chain.
As someone who never actually went to university, I felt a little left out that I never got to experience some of the uni lifestyle, including the types of food. But going into Hatch, I kinda felt like a university student; maybe without all the creeping debt over my head, but I felt young and happy. The atmosphere is a mix of indie and hipsterish culture, with your main area being the outside, filled with all the fairy lights you could ever want. This creates that kind of twist and turn that are aesthetically pleasing to look at – as well each coloured one being an actual shop! You’ll never feel more like the main character of a film anywhere else then you will here! The music playing in the background crossed with the diversity of people you see and the smells of all the different types of food being cooked is just bliss.
FUKU Burger & Fries
Nothing beats a good, messy yet satisfying burger accompanied by some crispy, salty fries, so I just had to try one from FUKU – and not just any old beef patty, but one filled with Cripsy Chicken, Muddy Mayo, lettuce and chilli flakes. I really made a mess when eating this burger, which is probably the only downside – just a tad bit too much sauce stuffed on top. But aside from me ending up looking like a toddler with spicy mayonnaise all over my hands (and having to nick my friend’s napkin – sorry Ellie!), I will say – in the iconic words of Samuel L. Jackson – “That is a tasty burger!”.
The chicken itself was really well cooked, not gooey or gammy or out of the freezer, just hot and crunchy. The cheese was an unexpected addition to the burger – never usually seeing the use of cheese on the battered chicken – but it was a welcome surprise. And the sauce worked really well with it all, especially being topped with all the crunchy flakes and bits of peppers, chillies and spring onions. It really had a kick to it – not too spicy but just the right amount of heat. All that is left to say about it is, well, the FUKU burger will not disappoint.
The fries were definitely something unique and flavourful. On their own just fluffy yet crackling, but what madman eats fries without a dip? My choice, for an already hot meal, had to be sweet chilli sauce, because nothing accompanies the heat better than something syrupy. And boom, you have a combo that works.
FUKU Korean Fried Chicken With Rice
Burgers are great and all, but sometimes it’s nice to go with something a little more traditional to the food traders’ theme and background: enter the Korean Fried Chicken With Rice! Chicken again, I hear you ask? Yes, I was really craving it at the time, and it’s not often that you can find crispy poultry that tastes fresh yet delicious at the same time, and the Korean Fried Chicken certainly was just that.
Unlike the breaded battered chicken on the burger, the KFC (Korea, not Kentucky) was smoother and softer, and the chilli sauce coated on top just absorbed into it. Really, there isn’t much more to say about it: its just fried chicken; it’s great, but nothing overly special. The rice wasn’t too special at all, just standard plain white rice, which is still good, but I would have preferred something with a bit more flare. But mixing it with the chicken and the sauces, it really brought everything together; and even after I had finished all the chicken it was just something I could finish off eating with the added flavours from the dish.
With the possibilities of things to try at Hatch, it’s safe to say I will be returning (and hopefully, doing more food reviews like FUKU). It’s just got this great atmosphere to it that makes it feel so much more different to any general environment you may visit in Manchester. It feels alternative and different yet familiar and welcoming. Though this review/overview has been a short one, I suspect that future articles will be a lot longer as I explore what more Hatch has to offer.