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Sushi in the City

Ah, wise man say, ‘eat at Mai Bai and live long life’. Kick out the pre packaged sandwiches and treat yourself to some healthy, freshly prepared lunch the Japanese way.

Published on January 17th 2007.

Sushi in the City

‘Every time you eat something you have never experienced before you add seventy five days on to your life’ reads the Japanese proverb displayed in big letters above the counter at Mai Bai.

I have a sneaky suspicion that this proverb was invented by an old Japanese man attempting to sell snails and puppy dogs tails to unsuspecting punters, but hey, it works. It definitely sticks in the mind as you’re browsing the cold sushi counter and the exotic sounding hot foods menu at Mai Bai. Octopus meatballs with apple sauce, for example, would definitely prolong my life.

Mai Bai’s tagline is ‘Sushi in the City’. And this is exactly what it is. No faux Japanese décor, no gimmicks, just a funky, unmistakably Manchester café serving hot and cold healthy Japanese food, as well as a range of smoothies, herbal teas, and Illy coffee.

Mai Bai is open from 7.30am until 8pm most nights, so makes a perfect place to stop for a coffee before or after work, or pop in for some food on the way home. Mai Bai also run a bring your own wine policy, so if you want to sit in and enjoy a glass of wine with your meal that’s absolutely fine.

The sushi rolls and nigiri at Mai Bai are freshly prepared each day, and presented in a help yourself fashion at the fridge counter. The wide range of sushi boxes range from £3.10, which to my mind is very good value for freshly prepared sushi. And if it all looks a bit confusing – the staff are extremely helpful and always on hand to explain what’s what.

As for the hot food – which I must admit appealed to me more on a cold January day – there’s an extensive selection of Japanese soups, dim sum, noodles, stir fries and rice dishes. The food is prepared in the open kitchen while you wait, by a samurai style Japanese chef who looks as though he may have actually wrestled the octopus himself.

The service is extremely quick – and customers can either eat in or take away. While eating in was an extremely tempting option with Mai Bai’s leather stools and piles of books for idle customers to browse through, I had a stack of work waiting for me at the office so I took my Spicy Chicken Udon (£5.50) back to work in a cardboard container.

As a welcome to you all Mai Bai are currently offering you all 2 for 1 on all hot food, and that's not all, you can also get buy one get one free on tea and coffee. Click here for more information.

The Udon was a spicy soup like dish, packed full of thick wriggly noodles which caused much slurping and splattering at my desk (to the annoyance of poor Scott sat opposite me), generous helpings of beansprouts and spring onion, and all the most delicious bits of a chicken. At £5.50 it wasn’t the cheapest lunchtime option however, and halfway through the massive portion I was flagging. Perhaps Mai Bai should consider offering smaller, cheaper portions as well for those with lighter appetites.

All in all, Mai Bai has definitely got right idea, and I for one will definitely be returning. And I’ve thought of a better proverb. ‘Those who eat at Mai Bai will enjoy a delicious, healthy lunch and will go back again and again.’ Catchy, eh?

For more information on Mai Bai, click here to visit the microsite.

Jayne Robinson

Mai Bai
37 Princess Street (Albert Square)
M2 4FN

Monday : 7.30 am - 6 pm
Tues - Friday : 7.30 am - 8pm
Sat: 9 am - 6pm

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emma graceJanuary 17th 2007.

such a shame mai bai has closed...mind you, we do have rice in piccadilly gardens if you want something hot and oriental at lunch time, which is just as good

AnonymousJanuary 17th 2007.

Mai Bai has been closed, as far as I am aware. :(

real food pleaseJanuary 17th 2007.

Save some money.Buy a packet of monosodium glutamate, smear it on some cold rice and rancid fish, then throw the £20 pound note down the toilet.

AnonymousJanuary 17th 2007.

Aparently Yo Sushi has gone under too!

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