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Umezushi Reviewed

David Blake discovers that you can fill up on sushi

Written by . Published on August 14th 2013.

Umezushi Reviewed

"I'VE never filled up on sushi. It’s impossible", my companion declared complacently from across the table. Later on he would, quite literally, eat his words.

Thus began a drawn out conversation of all those food stuffs that you can endlessly put away, one after another, like Jabba post-Lent. Yorkshire puddings in gravy, Malteasers, garlic and blue cheese button mushrooms, pub nuts, pork crackling, someone else’s chips, wine...

Firstly, it’s an effort to find. It isn’t clear why this makes somewhere more appealing but it just does. Peveril of the Peak, Chetham’s Library, the view from the top of Shudehill car park, all better because they’re easily missable.

This continued until the solitary waitress-cum-manager and hardest working Polka in all of Greater Manchester came to take our order. Too busy populating our list, we’d not even glanced at the menu so panic-ordered two cold and inoffensive Asahis (£3) with a portion of Futomaki (£5.50) to share.

Futomaki (£5.50)Futomaki (£5.50)

Thank Izanagi that we did because these five jumbo rolls of tuna, avocado and cucumber accompanied with pickled ginger and wasabi were the perfect appetiser. Light and fresh but substantial enough to see us through to the next stage without resorting to a pound of forearm flesh. No blood mind.

The following course of tempura whitebait (£5) was ever-so-slightly over salted, but whitebait is a particularly salty fish anyway, it tends to need a good rinsing. The fact we accompanied the salty whitebait with salted Edamame beans (£2.50) probably didn’t help our cause, but it was nothing that a good dab of wasabi couldn’t handle.

That’s the thing about wasabi, much like mustard or that (God-awful) horseradish, add a bit and everything tastes the same anyway.

Tempura whitebaitTempura whitebait

Edamame beansEdamame beans

Here at Confidential we do try to avoid clichés like the plague; we prefer to think more outside of the box. But Umezushi is a real hidden gem, a diamond in the rough. Bugger. Here’s why:

Firstly, it’s an effort to find. It isn’t clear why this makes somewhere more appealing but it just does. Peveril of the Peak, Chetham’s Library, the view from the top of Shudehill car park, all better because they’re easily missable, or unfindable in the first place. So, walk down Deansgate on to Victoria Street with the Cathedral on your right and continue to the arches of the bridge. Umezushi is beneath the bridges and to the left on Mirabel Street.

Secondly, it’s about the size of your average living room.

Thirdly, it’s almost painfully functional and unassuming. It looks like an interior designer went in to Ikea with £163 and fully decked the place out, with change left to spare for some of those Goat testicles that they call Swedish meatballs. The furniture here is a lesson in cold, hard, open-plan squaremanship.



Fourthly, this Japanese restaurant has not one Japanese member of staff. Taiwenese, Polish, Bhutanese, English, yes. But Japanese, no. Three spanish salsa dancers are inexplicably splayed across the walls. Having said that, with a restaurant half full of Japanese diners, who really cares. They know their sushi.

Lastly, but most importantly, the sushi here is bloody delicious.

With fresh locally sourced fish delivered every day and an ever-changing selection board, the choice is primarily of a fishy, veggie persuasion but Umezushi has also branched out with a chicken katsu curry (£12) and teriyaki mushroom steak (£12) for those not attuned to seafood. However, if this is the case, don’t go to a sushi restaurant. Numbskull.

The boardThe board

The main challenge though is getting your head around the menu. This isn’t a passive point and order affair, well it could be, but you’d have to point around 13 times. This is an entirely engaged process. We’ll try help you out.

Initially, choose your seafood or vegetarian option, all seafood options are written on the board and changed regularly. These were: tiger prawn (£6) home made unagi, eel (£5), wild salmon (£4), wild seabass (£3.70), tuna (£3.50), sea bream (£3) and octopus (£3) and tomago, egg (£2.5).

The vegetarian options were: kimchi, spicy cabbage (£3), pickled veg (£2.75), avocado (£2.75), cucumber (£2.50), aubergine (£2.50) or pak choi, cabbage (£2.50)

...and breathe. It’s not over.

Now you need to pick a style of sushi, this is where it gets tricky: Hosomaki (four mini rolls, standard sushi), Uramaki (four reverse rolls, another standard roll), Temaki (one hand roll, like ice cream cones), Gunkan (two battle ship rolls, like a coffin), Nigiri (two pieces on top of a rice ball) or Sashimi (raw sliced meat).

Futomaki with pickled radishes, wasabi and pickled gingerTuna and avocado futomaki with pickled radishes, wasabi and pickled ginger

Or, if this all gets a bit much for you, as it did for us, Umezushi have designed a number of handy sushi sets ranging from £10 to £40. For the latter option however, you’ll need three hours to spare and a gut the size of Eric ‘thumb-head’ Pickles.

As there were only two of us with ectomorphian guts, we opted for the sushi platter (£27). Consisting of tuna, salmon, sea bream, sea bass, octopus, avocado and cucumber, this fishy selection was more than enough for two and was fresh, varied, filling and delicious.

The octopus was surprisingly agreeable. Initially expecting it to possess the taste and consistency of a wet bungee rope, it was clean and subtle, delightful with a hint of pickled ginger and soy.

The sea bass and sea bream were good but practically one and the same whilst the tuna sashimi was the pick of the lot - soft, meaty and more robust than the others.

What was most striking though was just how beautiful the whole arrangement looked. If ever there was a poster for sushi, this was it.

Sushi platter (£27)Sushi platter (£27)

Having been told pre-visit that Umezushi may be as dry as a gravel toastie, we seriously considered nipping down the offy for some BYO beforehand, so were surprised to find a three-sided drinks menu rife with lively Japanese Koshu wine (bottle, £30-£57), the famous Sake (175ml, £9-£12) and a solid selection of red, white and rose (£18-£32.50).

On the downside, there were but two beers, Asahi and Estrella (both £3), and as one of many young pretenders from the iGeneration who have now decided that the Carling of our youth tastes like the urine of a dehydrated trucker on a diet of garlic asparagus in coffee, we would have much preferred a couple of ale options.

JW Lees new Manchester Pale Ale is perfect for small eateries such as this.

Asahi and beer gobletAsahi and beer goblet

For those whose idea of Japanese food is wound up within a supermarket meal deal or comes snatched from a conveyer belt, the Umezushi experience may at first seem a little overwhelming, all Unagi, Temaki, Kimchi and Gunkan. Sounds like a Japanese legal firm.

But fear not sushi pilgrim, leave Yo Sushi to those who order a Starbucks Americano with at least seven premodifiers. Get your head around the menu here at Umezushi and you’ll soon be up to your gullet in fresh, abundant sushi with solid flavours, beautifully arranged without being overly intricate or expensive.

Never been full up on sushi? Pfft… chew on that.

Follow David on Twitter @david8blake


Umezushi, 4 Mirabel St, M3 1PJ. 0161 832 1852.

Rating: 16/20 (please read the scoring system in the box below, venues are rated against the best examples of their kind)
Food: 9/10 (Futomaki 9, Tempura Whitebait 7, Edamame 7, Sushi Platter 10)
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 3/5

PLEASE NOTE: 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 get carried away.

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

Georgina Hague shared this on Facebook on August 15th 2013.
AnonymousAugust 15th 2013.

So, it looks like an interior designer went in to Ikea with £163 and fully decked the place out... and it gets 3/5 for ambience. Gas Lamp, which still looks and smells like a toilet, gets 9/10. nonsense.

ktfairyAugust 15th 2013.

I love this place - the food is simply beautiful and beautifully simple. Check out the hot dishes as well as the sushi - I had a wonderful glass noodle and steak salad. Mmmmm!

ktfairyAugust 15th 2013.

The interior is actually very close to being the same as a lot of the small eateries in Tokyo that are hidden away down back alleys and under train stations....

AnonymousAugust 16th 2013.

Asahi and Estrella are perfect accompanyments for Sushi - why would you even consider real ale to go with fresh, clean food is beyond me.

AnonymousAugust 16th 2013.

Numbskull, how darn rude, i am new to the sushi experience but ate in Wasabi recently, i do not like much fish, however sushi is fantastic i can choose what i do like and try small pieces of fish i have never tried before with the worry of it costing me a small fourtune and i like the fact there is chicken and vegetables.

AlvinAugust 17th 2013.

Wow, have ManCon actually got a competent food reviewer now? Congrats David for a very well-written review. Certainly piqued my interests. Perhaps you could give a certain colleague (**cough** J. Schofield **cough**) a very pointers.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AlvinAugust 17th 2013.

*few pointers, obviously. Perhaps I'm due some lessons too :)

GordoAugust 18th 2013.

Have you been having sex with Blakey as well as Alan, Alvin?

AnonymousJanuary 12th 2015.

Best sushi in Manchester by a country mile. Simply perfect

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