Vegan ‘crispy ribs’ with red sauce and chives on top

Food & Drink

El James

Enter the Woo Tan: Award-winning vegan Chinese food in Liverpool

With the buzz of Eurovision still in the air, we took a trip Down the Hatch to Woo Tan Scran, which started trading as a vegan Chinese chippy on Lark Lane until October 2022 when they ended the lease due to rising trading costs. They soon moved into Down the Hatch and continued trading from the shared kitchen. 

Surrounded by beautiful architecture, Down the Hatch is located just off the docklands, which were still decorated with European flags flying proudly. There’s a strong sense of pride in Liverpool, and it’s definitely one of the best places to go for vegan food. 

In the build-up to this visit, we reached out to Woo Tan Scran, who promised us a “proper bangin’ experience” and they didn’t just deliver, they signed, sealed, and delivered food on the cusp of perfection. With a name like Woo Tan Scran - a play on the popular Hip Hop group, Wu-Tang Clan (where 80% of members are vegan!) - you can expect food that strays from the path, for this is not pretentious, high-end food worthy of a typical wedding reception; this is proper scran (that’s food to everyone outside of Liverpool!) that everyone can enjoy.

What makes this restaurant stand out from the rest?

In 2022, they were awarded Best Vegan/Vegetarian Dish by Gok Wan and Ken Hom at the Golden Chopsticks Awards and received a Certificate of Achievement from Hardens 2022 Diner Survey. The accolades speak for themselves, but the food truly sets them apart from the rest.

What was the environment/food like?

Down the Hatch has a modern interior with dimmed lighting for a more intimate feel towards the entrance, with closed-off booths available for a sense of privacy, and a more open-plan area towards the back of the restaurant. With Caribbean beats playing in the background, we were greeted by Faye, Rikki, and Jo, who were incredibly attentive and made sure we had everything we needed and more; combined with Jay - the owner of Woo Tan Scran - we were served a bespoke menu prepared especially for V-Land UK, which made the experience one not to be forgotten.

We began with Woo Tan Ribs in Char Sui sauce which were delightfully light, with the piquancy of the sauce delicately balanced with pops of sweetness from the corn. Salt and pepper chips were next on the agenda - it’s not hard to see why Woo Tan Scran is the number one vegan chippy in Liverpool: the chips were golden brown, soft on the inside, and crunchy on the outside, encased in a delectable salt and chilli flavouring. 

As for the hoisin jackfruit pancakes, the jackfruit was dry, which took us by surprise, but the magic truly happened when you combined the ingredients with the hoisin sauce. Suddenly the dehydrated jackfruit became a moist, meat-esque, delightful flavour explosion.

Hoisin jackfruit pancakes

El James 

Speaking of an explosion of flavour, the ‘Chicken’ Chow Mein was a pleasure to eat. The crispy protein was juicy and pulled apart perfectly; truly something to sink your teeth into. The chow mein was perfectly spiced with oriental notes of five spice, sesame oil, and chillies. 

As for the headline act of the evening, next came the Chinese Chilli ‘Beef’ Fried Rice. Served on a bed of perfectly fried rice, this ‘beef’ had a warming heat that gradually built the more we ate. It truly brought back memories of home-cooked meals lovingly prepared by our grandparents. Even though we had already been served four other delectable plates, we made sure the dish was cleared, and the bowl returned with nothing but gratitude.

Before we left, we spent a few minutes catching up with Jo at the end of one of the busiest months Liverpool could have ever seen. We learned that both Down the Hatch and Woo Tan Scran had seen unprecedented numbers of people through their doors, each sharing their jubilance and love for the city of Liverpool and the awe-inspiring community spirit shown throughout Eurovision.

With our appetite satiated and our souls warmed, we took our box of leftover chips to Albert Docks to take in the atmosphere of a city still celebrating the moment they helped everyone understand how we could be United by Music.

If you enjoyed hearing about our trip to Liverpool, why not check out the best way to spend 72 hours as a vegan in Manchester or learn more about the benefits and uses of jackfruit.

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