Sushi is now EVERYWHERE in Manchester. From grab-and-go takeaway offerings to cool street food-style spots in shipping containers to high-end restaurants that stand their ground on a global scale.
There’s so much sushi around I’m actually surprised Greggs don’t have a range yet.
So why should you go big, with a 14 course, £150 tasting menu? I’ll tell you why – because it really is the treat of a lifetime for any fresh fish fanatic.
Musu, despite its price tag, sits modestly on Bridge Street, just off Deansgate, its regal interior hidden from street view behind tasteful black drapes and a wooden panelled reception.
Once inside the body of the luxurious Manchester restaurant, the pristine wooden aesthetic continues, but whilst most of the restaurant (and incredibly well stocked bar) is dimly lit, the exposed open kitchen and sushi station shine like spotlights, showcasing the true star of the establishment – its chefs.
I was lucky enough to take a seat for Musu’s Omakase menu.
Omakase translates to ‘I’ll leave it up to you’, demonstrating how the chef, who you’ll be sat in front of for two-three hours, is entirely in control of your dining experience. They’ve selected and constructed a menu based on which fish are in season, fresh, and their own refined preference. And if this meal is anything to go by, I’ll leave all my food choices to someone else forever.
First you’re shown all the produce that is going to make your meal, and how they were sourced and prepared. The tray of fish gleam like the jewels they are, in both taste and cost.
The 14 plates began with the only hot dish, Miso Soup. This of course is pimped out, with wagyu beef and shiitake mushroom adding to the rich saltiness. The wagyu is so tender it nearly melts into the soup and creates a rich sweet peppery flavour. It’s a strong start.
Next up begins a selection of sashimi. Sashimi is raw fish/shellfish, served only with fresh wasabi and a beautiful five-year-aged soy sauce containing rich sake.
There isn’t anywhere to hide with sashimi and chef John doesn’t need to. Every dish looks like art, prepared in front of you – it’s amazing to see how expert cuts create exquisite plates. It’s like watching an artfully shot Netflix documentary, only for the TV to reach over and hand you the food after the credits.
Each of the six sashimi tastes so individual. The scallop from the Isle of Sky melts on the tongue, with a subtle salt taste. The four-day-aged Cornish seabass, paired perfectly with the rich soy, brings a sweetness to the fish. The Scottish salmon nearly swims down my throat, it’s so elegant and rich, whereas the Akami (bluefin tuna loin) packs a powerful and delicious fish flavour that you feel in the nose.
Next came the 10 nigiri, fish served on a bed of rice. The craftsmanship and precision here is spectacular, with chef John pairing Hamchi with green chillies, allowing spice to burst out with a bite. Red Mullet is seared with a blowtorch and served with Yuzu zest to create tangy treat for the eyes and palette. The spectacle reaches its peak with the charcoal seared Chu-toro, the wooden burnt fish enriched by piney-smoky flavour. Finally the last nigiri is an A5 Wagyu beef, with autumnal truffle, a wild, earthy end to the nigiri.
I actually think ending on the Wagyu would be a perfect circle, meeting back to the start with the Miso Soup, but there’s one more fish dish before a sweet treat. It’s the Temaki, seaweed wrapped Tuna with Chu-toro, spring onion and sesame. It’s a big end to the fish dishes, the strong meaty tuna taste a perfect contrast to the fresh raw veg.
Finally the dessert, simple small and elegant salted white chocolate, served perfectly cold, with soya milk crisp, and almond dust providing a rough change in texture, and helping to stagger the sweetness. It’s a triumphant ending.
The Omakase menu is not just a treat, it’s an education in how sushi can be masterfully executed, right here in the heart of landlocked Manchester.
The charming Manchester Italian restaurant ready to serve a Christmas Day feast
Italiana Fifty-Five is opening its doors on Christmas Day, helping you indulge in three courses of great food and festive spirit – the Italian way.
Formerly known as the foodie favourite Cibo, diners can step into little Italy rejuvenated with a modern touch.
Its two locations across the city centre, found on Liverpool Road and Great Northern, as well as its restaurant in Didsbury, serve up a tantalising selection of hearty dishes in a sleek and trendy setting.
As well as offering an authentic Italian Christmas Day feast, Italiana 55 will be open a Christmas Party Menu in the lead-up to the big day for all your earlier celebrations.
To begin your Christmas Day feast choose between Zuppa Di Barbavietole E Carote (roasted parsnips and carrot soup); Burrata E Fig (burrata with fresh figs, parma ham and honey); Melanzane Parmigiana (an oven-baked dish made from aubergine, scamorza, tomato, basil and parmesan cheese); Carpaccio Di Manzo (fillet of beef thinly sliced with rocket, parmesan and a homemade dressing); and Arancini V (Sicilian rice balls stuffed with mozzarella and butternut squash).
Italiana 55’s festive dining experience combines a British-Italian fusion with their selection of traditional mains using locally sourced ingredients with a Sicilian touch.
For your main, you can tuck in to a Tacchino Arrosto – British turkey with potatoes, carrots, sage stuffed sausage served with gravy and cranberry sauce).
Or for a more Italian twist on your celebrations, you can go for Risotto Con Butternut (roasted butternut squash risotto with thyme and parmesan shavings); Capesante Gratinate (seared king scallops topped with grated Parmigiano and a tomato sauce finished under the grill); Filleto Al Ferri (200g 28-day aged Aberdeen Angus fillet served with fries and garlic butter sauce); Ravioli Di Spinaci (egg ravioli filled with ricotta and spinach in a butter and sage sauce); and Rollata Di Pollo (chicken fillet filled with spinach mascarpone and goat cheese in a cream and mushroom sauce).
There is always room for dessert at Christmas, and nobody does it like the Italians.
Nothing screams tradition like a Tiramisu (classic homemade savoiardi biscuits soaked in coffee liqueur and layered with a mascarpone mousse); Vanilla Cheesecake (homemade with fresh vanilla pods, topped with a berry compote); Sticky Toffee Pudding (sponge mixed with dates and raisins, topped with sugar-coated walnuts and drizzled with warm toffee sauce); Gelato (homemade gelato serving vanilla, chocolate strawberry and pistachio); or Profiteroles (buns of choux pastry filled with chantilly cream and topped with a rich chocolate sauce).
If you’ve got a sweet tooth they’ve covered all bases.
You can get all this at Italiana 55 on Christmas Day for £65 per person (adult) and children eat for £30.
So if you’re looking to book a restaurant for Christmas day in Manchester, find out more about Italiana 55 and book here.
The UK could be at risk of a roast potato shortage this Christmas
Ok, we don’t mean to alarm you but, according to the latest reports, Christmas dinner plates could be at risk of scrimping on a major component as there is a threat of a roast potato shortage this holiday season.
Please, for the love of all things holy and festive, no — we’ll do anything to protect our roasties and gravy.
While there’s often talk of supermarket shortages and supply problems when it comes to the busiest time of year, it seems that the Great British potato-loving people might genuinely have to cut back on the amount of roast spuds we intend to eat over the next few months due to recent storms.
Following what has already gone down as one of the toughest harvests on record, the yield of potato crops has been hit hard by the ‘Autumn washout’, with fields being waterlogged by the likes of Storm Babet, Ciarán, Debi and more, meaning that farmers have been unable to harvest lots of their produce.
Farmer James Lacey explained how there is around £200,000 worth of potatoes that he and his team simply can’t harvest and that they are struggling to hold on to those already pulled out, as even such sturdy vegetables as potatoes just “don’t like this kind of weather and aren’t storing very well”.
This is just the story of one farmer’s plot of land too; unfortunately, current figures project that roughly 20% of this autumn’s potato crop has been flooded and will likely be unsalvageable, with the majority of rotting spuds only fit for animal feed.
Although the figures are still unclear, it is estimated that the latest potato crop is tipped for a record low of 4.1 million tonnes — for context, on average and in their various forms, Brits eat around 250m potatoes at Christmas every year.
Sadly, it doesn’t stop there either as due to the almost unprecedented rainfall over the last few months and back-to-back storms, combined with the increasingly frosty conditions now creeping across the UK, the likes of broccoli, carrots, parsnips and more are all under threat.
As a result, retailers are already being forced to supplement their supplies from cold storage which, obviously, isn’t endless.
With shortages of different vegetables increasing week upon week and as well as the impact it is having in restaurants already, the knock-on effect it may have on supermarkets with people raiding the freezers to get frozen roasties at the ready just in case could be massive.
The recent miserable weather isn’t getting any better either as the North West is one of many regions that has been hit by a cold snap this week, with the Met Office and UKHSA issuing an amber health alert.