Umezushi is hidden away in a railway arch at the top of Mirabel Street (by Victoria Station; I foresee them snaring me quite often on my commute home, damn them) – a small, simple, striped back interior ensures your whole concentration is focused on the balanced exactness that is the mainstay of Japanese food and which is recreated perfectly here.
Umezushi - the little hidden gem
And what food! A main gripe of mine about (now) living away from the sea is the lack of fresh fish – don’t get me wrong, restaurateurs in Manchester have access to an amazing market at Smithfields and at some places the fish is spanking fresh, trouble is it’s usually cooked (and I have a perchance for raw…) – still, many places are serving up flabby, rubbery, slimy lumps of fish I would think twice about cooking, let along snarfing down uncooked. Not at Umezushi; all the fish we had was tip top – firm, clean and plenty of iodine. To keep tastes fresh and of super quality, Umezushi has adopted an ever changing daily menu to reflect what’s best at market each day; often full of seasonal, British produce to boot.
To start, we were given a dish of homemade pickles; sweet, slightly sharp, with each piece of veg still retaining a satisfying crunch. Dishes come out when they are ready – so don’t go to Umezushi when in a massive rush, the food is prepped when you order it to ensure it’s super fresh, so there’s a little (but welcome) wait.
Fresh and clean - sweet little homemade pickles
Umezushi keeps things simple – you choose your fish first, then how you would like it prepped; sashimi, handroll, nigiri, maki etc, or you can leave it to the gods (well, chef) and chose the house selection. We ate buttery brill, softly melting sea trout, rich tuna, a lightly pickled horse mackerel and the rarest, most succulent slice of fillet beef. Only small issue is the rice, it’s slightly loose – much better than the claggy puddings you get elsewhere, but just a tad difficult to get in my mouth (I’m not the neatest of eaters in the first place, so a little assistance would have been appreciated).
Thing of beauty in taste and looks - brill handroll
To accompany the sushi (and to fill me up) we ordered miso (hot, salty and not minging = good), light as a feather tempura and, on the back of the success of the pickles, some homemade kimchee – a great wall of heat, relived by a sharp pickle slap, followed by that unmistakable fermenty fizz; if you can stomach spicy fermented brassicas then definitely order it as it’s some of the best I’ve had in Manchester.
Tiny tuna portion - was worth every little bite
Umezushi is a fab little find, I was in two minds about writing this up as it’s such a hidden gem with such limited space that I want to be able to get in when I next visit – however it’s so perfect that you need to know and of course, I need them to carry on trading! The food is exquisitely put together, the produce as fresh as can be, the staff are the perfect level of friendliness and it’s a comfy little bolt hole – the only (very tiny) negative is that portions are small for the price, but as I’ve said before, I’d rather have quality over quantity and you get simple quality by the bucket loads here.
Price for seven sushi plates, one miso soup, one kimchee, one tempura and two beers - £40.24
Food – 8/10
Atmosphere – 7/10 (we were there very early, straight after work)
Service – 9/10
Value for money – 7/10
Total – 31/40
Go again – Yes. I plan to become a regular. Maybe even with my own chair and special nod to the chef who just whips up his best/freshest/newest thing and hands it to me without a word (stop fantasising – ed).
Umezushi, 4 Mirabel Street, Manchester M3 1PJ – 0161 8321 852 – firstname.lastname@example.org – Facebook – Twitter – www.umezushi.co.uk