As former residents and frequent visitors of Manchester, we are familiar with many of the city’s restaurants. Mowgli is one we come back to again and again for amazing Indian street food and it’s easy to see why.
Mowgli Manchester Locations
Mowgli has grown from a single location to a pair in Manchester and several throughout the UK.
Corn Exchange (Exchange Square)
16, Corn Exchange House, 37 Exchange St, Manchester M4 3TR
+44 161 832 0566
(this is the location visited in this review)
Oxford Road (Manchester University – temporarily closed during COVID)
Unit 1 University Green, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9GP
+44 161 273 3223
While ambiance should not be the sole reason for selecting a restaurant, it’s the first introduction to the venue and adds to the experience of dining out. Mowgli has one of the most enchanting restaurant designs in a city of beautiful eateries. The locations capture the essence of Rudyard Kipling’s characters, and the sense of playfulness and expert execution that Chef and proprietor, Nisha Katona has been known to deliver.
Some tables use communal benches, some are enclaves, some have swings for seats – but there isn’t a bad seat in the house.
Mowgli offers a straightforward and simple menu that somehow also has something for everyone. The one-sheet menu is already loaded with hallmarks of Indian restaurants including vegan and naturally gluten-free options. For those that remain carnivores, plenty of options are available. This menu is impossible to order wrong, whether it’s Mother Butter Chicken (featured below), Goan Fish Curry, or Bhel Puri – you cannot order incorrectly.
The gluten-free menu has nearly the same number of options as the primary menu (gluten-free is not something Manchester generally does well), and vegan retains about half the number of choices as the primary menu.
As a parent that travels with a child, we have enforced a policy nearly from birth, “we try everything.” It might not work for every family but it has worked for ours, sometimes out of necessity (we may not have any other options where we go), but also because we want her to have an open mind about new places, people, and food. The Mini Mowgli menu was an excellent offering for families.
What I liked about it wasn’t just that approachable Indian food selections were the only options (no peanut butter and jelly or chicken nuggets here) but that the menu included specialty drinks to match those from the adult drinks list. This makes it fun for everyone and engages the kids more in an otherwise adult setting.
We started with the famous “Yoghurt Chat Bombs” which are a mix of savory and sweet and must be eaten in one bite with a closed mouth – if not yogurt will be everywhere. It was delicious and somehow savory and refreshing at the same time, but that said, I’m not sure we would order it every visit.
We followed our server’s suggestion with the Monkey Wrap. Crispy, seasoned chicken, spinach, pomegranate seeds, and yogurt rest on a roti. It was more Tandoori chicken salad than a true wrap but that was just fine by us – the crispy chicken was exquisite.
In another tin we received treacle tamarind fries. A rich sauce ran through the chips with sections of red onion, and spicy chili pepper offered a kick without being overpowering.
We ordered two curries served in a tiffin with a side of roti and basmati rice. The house lamb curry was good, but there’s no question that the star of the show was the Mother Butter Chicken. We ran out of roti sopping up the tin so we ordered more. There’s no way we were returning that dish with any sauce visibly remaining.
Food came out as it was ready as opposed to courses. Somewhere between tapas and family style, dining at Mowgli is about sharing. Portions are a little less than an entree for one, two diners will want to order at least three items if not more. In a way, this is freeing. Instead of committing to a single plate of something, diners are more apt to try something new as they aren’t stuck with it if it’s not perfect for them.
We needed to add roti and did so with ease from our server who checked back frequently. We were encouraged to order as we like throughout the meal.
The selections pictured above, two drinks, and a large bottle of still water for the table came to around £57. Included with that, however, was 10% gratuity for service, and a £1 donation to the Mowgli Trust, a charity fund. For the quality, ambiance, and taste, we found it to be a great value for money and will absolutely visit again.
What do you think? Have you been to Mowgli? Do you have an alternative Curry you prefer?