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5th February 2018

Review: Umezushi

Hidden away in a small industrial railway arch behind Victoria station, this little gem epitomises all things fresh and innovative about Japanese cuisine
Review: Umezushi
Photo: Patrick Young @ The Mancunion

If asked the question: ‘U – Me – Sushi?’ Do not hesitate in accepting. This eighteen seat restaurant will not disappoint. Discretely hidden away in a small industrial railway arch behind Victoria station, this little gem epitomises all things fresh and innovative about Japanese cuisine. A complete trust in the quality of produce facilitates a clean eating experience, leaving the diner feeling a healthy rejuvenation on departure.

The location of Umezushi in a non-residential area of central Manchester lends itself to a slightly corporate footfall. Other diners at the restaurant appeared to consist of clients, being taken out and schmoozed for potential business deals. No doubt impressed by the sense of exclusivity that comes from Umezushi’s incredibly intimate dining room, and the excellence of the food.

My dining companion and I ordered off the lunch menu for affordability, aiming not to get caught up in the business demographic and to aptly represent the requirements of the student market. After much deliberation, we settled on ordering Miso Soups to start, as a staple of Japanese cuisine, and Negitoro Don, Pork Rice, and the Umezushi Lunch Roll to follow.

The Negitoro Don I can best describe as the steak tartare of the sushi world. We ordered this as an attempt to push the culinary boat out. It was not met by unappreciative palettes, but the intensity of the raw egg and fish combination may have been better suited to a starter rather than a main course.

The rice in all the dishes had taken a small hit of vinegar to bring out its full flavour. It was light and fluffy in texture. The quality of this rice is something I have never been able to recreate, even with various experimentations in different types of rice cookers.

The sushi itself was completely delectable. High calibre Japanese cuisine is built on an ethic and trust in the freshness and quality of produce, and this really shone through at Umezushi. A point of note is that the wasabi was not overpowering, as is the case in mass-produced supermarket sushi, which generally tends to be horseradish died green.

I was meaning to ask how the restaurant sourced their fish, as having lived in Manchester for three years, I am yet to come across a thriving fish market. But, given the quality of the produce, my guess would be that they have some form of supply chain direct from the sea.

The sticky pork rice beautifully balanced sweet and sour and put in a valiant attempt to steal the show from the sushi.

The waiters and maître’d gave off no sense that my dining companion and I were being rushed through the experience, which is unusual in such a high demand restaurant with very little capacity. We sat at our table for the best part of three hours, letting idle conversation flow as we soaked in copious refills of green tea.

Taking in the authenticity of feng shui — created by the Japanese kitsch’s and pot plants which surround the walls. The interior design had the capacity to transport the diner away from the midst of the bleakness of the Mancunian winter, and into what had the feel of a high-end backstreet Sushi house, in which a grandmaster might have plied their trade.

The lunch menu is affordable, costing twenty pounds a head, which considering the precedence of the restaurant and the quality of the food was entirely reasonable. I could not recommend this restaurant enough. If you are feeling any weight in your pockets from the recent drop of student loans, the taster menu looks to be a complete and innovative journey through the depths of Japanese cuisine.

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