The cafe-restaurant on St Stephen’s Street serves up hearty Asian dishes that kick back
When Alex Salter and Quan Cui were made redundant from the now-closed Tampopo restaurant in Cabot Circus, they more than got back on the horse – they opened up their very own Asian fusion eatery, on an unassuming corner in Bristol’s centre.
Tuk Tuck’s menu is inspired by Japanese, Thai and Korean street food and is available for delivery or collection via JustEat and Deliveroo, but it’s worth dining in if only for the friendly service. It’s also a regular feature on Wriggle, where its already decently priced dishes become lunchtime steals, and you can even bring your own reusable container to take away your food.
We’re ahead of the evening crowds at 6pm but the tables in this little cafe-restaurant gradually fill with regulars who know exactly what they’re ordering. After almost five years doing business thus far, Tuk Tuck has gained a loyal following and done tremendously well in a city where the rate of restaurant turnover is nothing short of vicious.
Among other things on the menu there’s miso soup for £2 – £1.50 if ordered as a side to a main dish, Korean sushi rolls, Japanese dumplings, traditional Korean dish bibimbap and crowd-pleaser katsu curry, and the drinks fridge is stocked with Asahi, cider, Rubicon and rice wine. There’s a definite humble grub feel about Tuck Tuk, as if you had a friend who could really, really cook Korean food.
After ordering we take our seats and sip soju – a sugary grape-flavoured beverage, – from mini saucers. The casual cafe vibe really works here – the tables are tucked round a corner, the waiters are bubbly but not over-bearing, and after being brought your food you’re largely left to your own devices.
We went for soft and pillowy vegetable gyoza, which also happened to be vegan, and Bulgogi beef (thin, marinated slices of rump steak) to start, and although the beef is a touch dry, its accompanying kimchi packs a punch.
Our mains arrive pretty speedily and are both standout dishes. Kimchi fries come in a paper-lined basket and loaded with meat or tofu and mushroom, hot spicy kimchi, chipotle mayo and spring onions, and are deliciously moreish, flavoursome and filling. I dream of tucking into these in place of cheesy chips from the kebab van.
However, the Thai red curry comes out top even above these – steaming hot sticky rice is laden with tender chicken pieces, raw carrot and sweet red pepper, and drenched in thick and creamy coconut milk curry sauce. It’s a fully rounded flavour combination with a freshness and spice that keeps the sauce from cloying.
This is food you can count on, whether you’re looking for on-the-go gyoza as an uncomplicated snack, a healthy lunch, or a hearty evening meal, and the gluten-free and vegan options makes it a destination for any kind of diner.
With generous portions and nice prices, Tuk Tuck sets itself up to become anyone’s next favourite city-centre pit stop.
Image: Tuk Tuck Facebook page
5 St Stephen’s St, Bristol BS1 1EE / Just Eat
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