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Umezushi, Japanese Restaurant, Reviewed

Lucy Tomlinson likes it simple underneath the arches

Published on November 12th 2012.


Umezushi, Japanese Restaurant, Reviewed

MORE than ever, the food world is obsessed with detail and authenticity. As food bloggers debate whether salsify is the new samphire, restaurants fly water halfway across the globe for a more genuine experience, when many people are happy with a glass of British Tap.

The fish itself isn’t standard though – the selection changes each day. By opting for Chef's Fish Choice (£10) we tried Cornish brill, sea trout, whelk maki and tuna. The sea trout especially was light and melting as a ripe peach.

But the cuisine that takes the (faithfully recreated) biscuit for obsessive attention to detail has always been Japanese.

Koya in London, for example, imports its buckwheat flour from Japan and the dough is of course kneaded the traditional way (with the feet, naturally).

UmezushiUmezushi

This level of perfectionism is all well and good, especially in food that is so subtle there are only a few degrees between greatness and gah.

But sometimes it reminds me of Sunday afternoon historical re-enactment society, with its members gathering for endless polishing of pikes and adjusting of jerkins, the exhausting levels of nerdiness sapping the all the energy from proceedings.

A real roundhead would just clonk you over the head with the nearest blunt object, and not worry if it would have been more accurate to use a flintlock or a matchlock musket. Sometimes the spirit is more important than the detail.

Fortunately Umezushi, a recently opened sushi joint tucked beneath the railway arches on Mirabel Street, strikes just the right balance between exactness and enthusiasm.

UmezushiUmezushi

This is assisted by a restrained menu typical of classic Japanese sushi bar. But the newcomer’s real strength is that instead of kowtowing to an unachievable ideal of Japanese-only ingredients, Umezushi is loud and proud about its locally sourced British products. After all, both countries are island nations with rich coastlines. Fish, crustaceans and seaweed make their way here from Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall.

Sushi doesn’t have to be fish of course. There was a trend for reindeer (that’s right, raw Rudolph) and even grasshoppers and bee larvae have been used in sushi, but Umezushi sticks to classic fish and vegetable in either cut or hand roll form, plus sashimi.

UmezushiUmezushi

The fish itself isn’t standard though – the selection changes each day. By opting for Chef's Fish Choice (£10) we tried Cornish brill, sea trout, whelk maki and tuna. The sea trout especially was light and melting as a ripe peach. The revolving menu means more unusual selections such as monkfish liver, turbot and razor clam will be up for grabs, ensuring devotees will always have something new to tickle their collective fancies.

If you like Japanese food you might also want to read Ruth Allan's recent review of Yuzu, based on Faulkner Street in Chinatown, here.

My favourite was the tempura (though I’m biased – I’d consider eating a rolled-up newspaper if it was coated in batter and deep fried) with wonderful firm vegetables including lotus root. A side of Korean Kimchi (£2.50) and a bowl of Miso soup (£2) provided punchy counterpoint to the more polite, restrained flavours.

UmezushiUmezushi

The hot dish of the day was steamed seabass with Irish Sea vegetables (£10) in which the fish had slightly lost flavour, but the vegetables were a knockout.

After having perfect tempura to follow with sushi, the hot dish gives the chef a chance to break out and experiment with Japanese flavours: I’m looking forward to trying the sous vide mallard breast with crispy leg in miso glaze (£17) when it makes another appearance on menu.

UmezushiUmezushi

Umezushi is proving to be an exciting, much-needed addition to Manchester’s independent restaurant scene.

The only concern is the small-scale operation is going to have a hard time balancing delivering this quality at the right price.

Still despite a difficult location (walk out of town, from the Cathedral and after strolling under the first viaducts under Manchester Arena turn left) Umezushi is definitely worth the trip. This applies to both the food obsessive or the general diner looking for novelty.

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY CONFIDENTIAL.

Umezushi, Unit 4, Mirabel StreetManchester. M3 1PJ. 0161 832 1852.

Rating: 14.5/20

Food: 8/10
Service: 3.5/5 
Ambience: 3/5

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: we've got carried away.

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15 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

pollolocoNovember 12th 2012.

Had lunch here on Saturday...sushi, tempura and Miso soup...all top quality, however I was still starving after blowing twenty quid so dropped by pancho's for some tostadas.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoNovember 13th 2012.

hmm. Tostados.... what do they call tostados? seen many different examples, but love the better ones...

pollolocoNovember 15th 2012.

a flatish circular crispy taco with salad, cheese, a variety of meats and salsas....not bad. In Spain it's a toasted sarnie isn't it?

CarlosNovember 12th 2012.

Beautiful food, really odd location

Anna SadokNovember 13th 2012.

I LOVE it here. The chef is very personable and attentive and the food is among the best sushi I've ever had. For main we had the venison...all delicious.

Jane JacksonNovember 13th 2012.

It was good and the people were lovely but it's expensive compared to other places of equal quality, I think.

Katie McCabeNovember 13th 2012.

I like the concept of the location. All big cities should have wonderful surprises in its nooks and crannies...

KenNovember 13th 2012.

Being fortunate having eaten in many restaurants around the world, there are a number of odd restaurants and locations. I have dined on cave, titcha, which is the fermentation of leaves masticated in peru.
I have drunk guiness on the top mountain in Sonora so you could say I know a bit about food.
My top restaurants are the Sweet Centre in Bradford and Scraggy Aggies chip and fish shop on Whit Lane Pendleton Salford."

2 Responses: Reply To This...
CobbydalerNovember 13th 2012.

Is that irony or are you just pressing your touristy t-shirt? ;)

Sweet Centre is very good by the way, along with the Karachi...

pollolocoNovember 14th 2012.

How's Deirdre?

James SpencerNovember 14th 2012.

maybe a review of chjippies in Salford?

Gillynumber1November 16th 2012.

I'm going tomorrow night, can anyone suggest somewhere to have a drink/ cocktail or two nearby?

AnonymousNovember 20th 2012.

Just finished dinner here. I'm amazed, beautifully presented dishes, unbelieveably fresh and very reasonable prices. The best sushi restaurant in Manchester. The staff make the experience so much more enjoyable, the service is top notch. I think I've found my second home.

AnonymousFebruary 4th 2013.

don't come here if you're starving hungry and need to eat pronto. or if you're funny about restaurants being in dark alleys under the railway arches.
otherwise, its a fantastic place. great food, pleasant unobtrusive service. dinner for two under 60quid and 5minutes walk from home- perfect!!

AnonymousMay 9th 2014.

Massive disappointment I'm afraid, yes the sushi was slightly better than Yo! Sushi but the prices are ridiculous; £6.50 for ONE piece of prawn nigiri (I've eaten Sushi in many different countries; a nigiri is always 2 pieces). That's more expensive than Nobu.... Our bill was £60 for barely any food - I don't mind paying for an expensive dinner provided A) I walk away satisfied, and/or B) the overall experience warrants it. Umezushi delivered neither of those things - if like being under-fed by over-priced and over-rated Sushi then give it a try. We walked away starving and fuming that we'd been so ripped off. Also for a Sushi restaurant the menu is very limited and there's barely any hot dishes (desperately needed to fill you up). The restaurant is a little pokey and there was an unpleasant fishmonger smell - there was an uncomfortable atmoshphere too... not a good experience to be honest. If they just dropped their prices by 25% I would probably have different views but unless that happens I'll never return - Yo Sushi is cheaper and almost as good (AND quicker service) and Wasabi is the best value for money for Sushi in Manchester - Umezushi deserve to fail for being so over-priced; I'd much rather they just opened a Nobu in Manchester; clearly a lot of people are happy to pay through the nose for Sushi, at least Nobu warrants the price! AVOID!!!

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Best sushi in Manchester by a country mile. Simply perfect

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