Bites: Noodles with everything ... Caroline Stacey rounds up other Wagamama wannabes

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Tampopo 16 Albert Square, Manchester (0161-819 1966). Mon-Sat noon-11pm, Sun noon-10pm. This year-old Manchester noodle bar is named after the Japanese film about the search for the perfect noodle soup. In the minimalist mould, with bench seating at long tables, and only occasional splashes of colour, it has no-booking and no-smoking policies. The menu extends beyond the Nippon rip-off noodle norm to start with salads from Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, then main dishes, mainly ramen noodle soups or pan-fried noodles, but with extra treats, such as Thai vegetable curry, for around pounds 5.

Hamine 84 Brewer Street, London W1 (0171-287 1318). Mon-Sat 11am-3am, Sun 11am-midnight. Predates all the others, a black-and-white, no-frills joint. Steaming bowls of soup include a curry-flavoured ramen, with prices from pounds 4.50 for basic shoyu (soy stock and vegetables) up to pounds 7 for a bowl of seafood. Noodles are ramen, there's no soba, but there are some rice dishes to fill hungry Japanese of all ages, and cultural tourists.

Japanese Canteen 394 St John Street, London EC1 (0171-833 3222); 305 Portobello Road, London W10 (0181-968 9988); 5 Thayer Street, London W1 (0171-487 5505), Mon-Sat lunch and dinner, Sun dinner. Three somewhat derivative diners that err on the side of sushi and set meals, rather than noodles, although there are six versions of noodle soup - salmon, seafood, chicken, pork, vegetable and bean curd - for pounds 4.45 each. Popular enough to have grown to a three-strong group, this owes more to low prices than the unexceptional food.

The New Culture Revolution 42 Duncan Street, London N1 (0171-833 9083); 43 Parkway, London NW1 (0171-267 2700); 305 King's Road, London SW3 (0171- 352 9281). Mon-Sun noon-11pm. Although these three don't pretend to be Japanese, the menus owe as much to Wagamama as to China. The noodle soup 'n' dumpling package, with raw juice on the side is remarkably familiar, but there's more to eat than that, with some more typically Chinese one-plate casserole dishes. The surroundings are more stark than stylish, but it's a useful China diner for a quick meal for less than pounds 15.

Wok Wok 10 Frith Street, London W1 (0171- 437 7080); 140 Fulham Road, London SW10 (0171-370 5355); 67 Upper Street, London N1 (0171-288 0333). Mon-Sat noon-midnight, Sun 5.30-11pm. Pan-Oriental chain (from the same stable as Garfunkel's) that is getting in on the Asian act by providing dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia. Ingredients are fresh and presentation appealing, but the food can be bland. Egg noodles in broth with chicken dumplings, sweet pork and Chinese greens (pounds 6.50) doesn't pack much punch. Noodle soup alternatives include udon noodles in broth with seafood, chicken, egg and shitake mushrooms (pounds 6.95), soy broth with chicken pak choi and egg noodles (pounds 5.95), and the Singaporean seafood laksa (pounds 9.50)