MUSU Restaurant & Bar

Ian Jones, Food and Drink Editor

An evening at Musu is more than a mere meal; it’s up there with the top culinary experiences Manchester has to offer. For summer, Chef Patron Michael Shaw and his team have created a twelve-course tasting menu that delivers the spirit of Japan across four cooking styles: edomae, izakaya, teppan and kaiseki. 

As you might have guessed, the whole thing is a wonderland for food boffins, but Musu manages to wrap all this up in a laid-back, relaxed format, delivered with a healthy amount of Manchester charm, courtesy of the lovely (and formidably well-informed) front-of-house team. Pepper them with questions or just sit back and enjoy the ride, it’s your call.

The drinks deserve an offshoot article all of their own. Musu’s cocktail menu is the stuff of legend, from the tangy, sassy Kyoto Kiss (a joyful gin-based blend of strawberry, cucumber and citrus flavours) to the aptly-titled Midnight Mystique, a brilliantly bizarre combination of Courvoisier, Cointreau and squid ink. All served up in a space-age, neon bar that manages to be as warm and welcoming as it is futuristic. In short, it ain’t Wetherspoons. 

The eight-strong paired wine list is equally playful. It darts about the globe, taking in Bulgaria, Chile, France and Greece, alongside a trio of fascinating Japanese tipples. Without giving the game away, wine pairings are ten a penny in Manchester, but few push the envelope as cleverly as Musu. 

This is a menu that benefits from going in blind, so we’ll attempt to keep spoilers to a minimum – difficult in a menu so packed with eye-catching and tastebud-dazzling highlights. Case in point, before we even start the tasting menu, we’re treated to a wonderful little unbilled item: paper-thin pastry containing Lock Duart salmon tartare dressed with yuzu, topped with a few dozen fiery specks of tōgarashi, a spice mix based around red chilli peppers. 

This snack paves the way for the opening edomae courses: it’s all about delicate, delicious and astonishingly high-quality cuts of raw fish. There’s a piece of o-toro that could well be the most memorable piece of fish you’ll ever eat. It’s taken from the belly of the bluefin tuna – although few make the grade – which is so gloriously rich and fatty it practically melts on the tongue.  

The izakaya courses lean into Japan’s street food culture, meaning tempura and robatayaki dishes take centre stage. The shiitake mushroom tempura is hot from the pan and light as air, giving way to the rich caramelized aromas of Musu’s now-legendary chicken thigh yakitori, and a duck meatball packed with flavours that explode in the mouth. 

Teppan is all about masterful use of the steel plate grill, giving us such delights as miso-glazed cod cheek (elegantly coated with a bright, complex dressing as you watch) and one of the standout dishes, A5 grade wagyu beef. 

These two cubes are intoxicatingly smokey, topped with a dab of burnt onion dressing and a miniature sheet of crispy kale. These flavours and the crisp-then-soft textures combine to create something breathtaking, particularly when you know that this is quite literally the best beef on the planet. 

Kaiseki is essentially a multi-course sequence of dishes, and at Musu, this section serves to showcase the skill and artistry of the chefs at work. It’s almost like a tasting menu within a tasting menu, beginning with a remarkable savoury custard dish that puts a morel mushroom at centre stage, moving onto duck gyoza in broth, peaking with a beef fillet and asparagus main event before heading into dessert territory. 

Musu’s desserts are the stuff of legend, and we’re delighted to see that white chocolate creation that wowed diners late last year – long may it reign. Meanwhile, the other dessert is a kind of ultra-fruity Super Mario sweet-and-sharp concoction, a laugh-out-loud bowl of colour and fun. 

And that’s Musu in a nutshell. This new tasting menu doesn’t just serve up wonderful food, it delivers an entire evening of all-new sensory adventures. Everything is fresh and exciting, from the way each dish looks, tastes, smells and feels to the touch, all while paying tribute to Japan’s fascinating culinary history. Easily one of Manchester’s most awe-inspiring dining experiences.

64 Bridge StreetManchesterM3 3BN View map
Telephone: 01618837753 Visit Now

Opening Hours

  • Wednesday5:00pm - 12:00am
  • Thursday12:00pm - 12:00am
  • Friday12:00pm - 12:00am
  • Saturday12:00pm - 12:00am

Always double check opening hours with the venue before making a special visit.

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