Japanese food, in Manchester

I’ve not done a restaurant review before, apart from a few lines on a restaurant review site of course. I eat out quite a bit but never been moved to write too much about the experience. But my experience the other night merits more than a couple of lines.

First some scene setting. If you have read any of my work, you’ll know I live in the South of England. For reasons many and varied I don’t like going to the North of England very much. On this occasion though I had business to find myself in Manchester. I have heard many people say that they think Manchester is great. I don’t. Manchester looks like it’s been fashioned from the remains of a giant disused factory. It may be busy at night on a weekend but venturing out during the week is a solitary experience. Tumbleweed would not be out of place. Plus perhaps a useful warning sign here and there along the lines of ‘Manchester, closed after dark on a Wednesday for your safety and convenience’.

Also Manchester, as does most of the north, has a less than sunny disposition in terms of matters meteorological. Or in English, it is almost always raining, is about to rain, or has just finished raining with another weather front on the way. Despite this, an astonishing number of the young ladies of Manchester who should be of a pretty fair skin tone are a remarkable shade of orange. It’s clearly not a sun tan given the fact that, as I said, it’s orange, not brown. I guess it’s either make up, an awful of it or some fake tan. I passed a number of tanning salons and checked one to see if it had an Oompa Loompa setting. I couldn’t see one though so it must be kept under the counter as clearly it exists. But I digress. This is about my meal.

I was in Manchester for work and after the day my colleagues and I had arranged a night in a Japanese restaurant of some repute in Manchester. We set off from our smart hotel in the centre of the city and made the lonely stroll through the cold deserted streets of Central Manchester on a Wednesday for our meal of Japanese food. Upon entering the establishment we were directed to what looked like a type of pool table with a steel surface which already had a number of people sitting around it. Some fat orange people, a large smattering of Japanese people which was encouraging. This was clearly some sort of food preparation and cooking area where you sat very very close to the action.

There were 4 other large arrangements on the restaurant floor similar to ours. The steel topped pool table type thing had an open place in front of it a where a Japanese man in a hat could stand to access the, now hot, steel bit.

We ordered some Japanese beer and sat chatting among ourselves. Or rather the chaps seated nearest me started to discuss the merits of soccer clubs I have never heard of. I lost interest very quickly. If you are a regular reader you will also know I was a regular tweeter. More on that in a moment.

I heard behind me much cheering along the lines of HUP, ….WHEYYY, HUP…WHEYYY and so on. I looked around and was quite surprised by what I saw. More on that in a moment. I turned back to concentrate on my disinterest in the soccer conversation nearby and composed a couple of bored tweets. Next thing I know a large conflagration of nearby fire made the back of my head very hot indeed. It seemed the Japanese chef on a distant table was setting very large fires to aid the cooking process. It occurred to me quickly this was about to happen inches from my face, on our table. My tweeting strategy was about to change. I decided some learning was about to happen. I got a little thread going called. ‘Learning things in a Japanese restaurant’. They went like this

Your first course is a soup thing with some white stuff in it so..

“Learning things in Japanese restaurants. Tofu is 99.9% less good as a foodstuff than its visual twin, goat’s cheese”.

On the way a chef likes to enjoy his cooking?

Learning things in a Japanese restaurant. When a chef is being flamboyant with knives and fire, cheer him along loudly.

I quickly discovered if you don’t cheer along loudly. The Chef starts juggling his knives very close to you to get your attention, so..

Learning things in a Japanese restaurant. Appreciate the efforts of a chef armed with fire and knives, when he is being clever, inches away.

I mentioned earlier the cheers of HUP…. WHEYY, HUP…..WHEYYY this cheering is because…

Learning things in a Japanese restaurant. Japanese people like having slices of potato thrown at their heads to catch in their mouth.

Hence the Hup Wheyys. These accompany each throw and catch of a potato slice.

So much activity and noise and performance I decided..

Learning things in a Japanese restaurant. Like a Japanese game show but the prize is your dinner.

We all know what Japanese food looks like so with all the show..

Learning things in a Japanese restaurant. All the knives, fire and noise can’t disguise that the food is fish and rice wrapped in seaweed.

Soon a large quantity of rice was poured on the cooker and then the ingredients of ‘Special fried rice’ or whatever the Japanese call the same thing appeared…

Learning things in a Japanese restaurant. Special fried rice, it sounds tastier than ‘worlds cheapest food bulked up with egg and a prawn’.

Of course the staple diet of so much of Asia is rice, yet the implements of choice to deliver it from a plate to your mouth are the world’s least appropriate utensils for doing so.

Learning things in a Japanese restaurant. Eating rice with giant blunt cocktail sticks is a ridiculous undertaking.

I’d had enough now of the Japanese chef doing things with vegetarian food. I wanted some proper food as I was hungry. A delicious looking large lump of meat appeared, I was much happier now. But wait!!

Learning things in a Japanese restaurant. They will take your delicious lump of beef fillet and slice it into silly bits before you notice.

The meal though was delicious, amazingly and flamboyantly prepared by skilled chefs armed with knives and fire who hurt no bystanders nor seated diners in the process. It’s definitely worth a visit.

By now the Sake I had been quietly consuming in large quantities constantly refuelled by a girl who must have been standing just behind me all night took its toll on my vision and ‘tweeting on a telephone’ skills. I had to call the social media a night and join my colleagues on what was now to become a night of post supper frivolity in the bright lights of Manchester. However despite being one of the largest cities in Britain, it seems the most common phrase at about 11pm used by the otherwise vendors of liquid refreshment to gentlemen with the means to pay for a lot of it is.. “Sorry love we’re closing.”

Manchester, closed after dark on a weekday evening for your safety and convenience.

If you wish to find me on Twitter, I don’t do Twitter anymore, it’s a horrible place best left to those with nothing better to do. I’m pleased I have better things to do these days.

Categories: Reviews, Travel

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8 replies »

  1. I love teppanyaki, mind you, you do have to duck the flying sliced omelette etc. If you have a choice, have the fish instead of the beef. Less slicing and dicing. Sounds like fun, even if you did have an early night 😉

    I wish there was a teppanyaki in Surrey, it’s great event food. Closest Japanese (although not teppanyaki) is Wabi in Horsham.

    Lesley x.

  2. Sandy, quiet possibly the funniest piece I’ve read in a long time. Just brilliant. I can only imagine the comedy experience via twitter as the evening unfolded.

    • Thanks! You know I was worried for my life and my phone, you should have seen me trying to tap the tweets while not getting stabbed in the head by accident

  3. The showmanship is part of the fun, but I wouldn’t recommend such a restaurant for a romantic tete a tete.

    Loved your tweets from the restaurant. I hope this is the first of many restaurant reviews.

  4. You are so funny Sandy, well written! This took me back to a similar experience many years ago in Sydney where I failed to catch an egg!! and it ended up down the front of my new top…not what I usually want in a dining experience and yet somehow it was funny at the time…note to self never wear good clothes to Teppanyaki!

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