Sakana, 23 Peter Street, Manchester, M2 5QR – Visit Now
Pan Asian Restaurant opened by Stewart Yip, the owner of Red Chilli and Ocean Treasure.
Sakana is a hangar of a place, two levels resplendent in hospital white with the de facto open kitchen at the centre. They’ve clearly tried to warm up the visual with art, but they’ve gone a bit too far in places. It’s hard to believe that these selfsame walls once housed the Chicago Rock Café – but that was back in Peter Street’s Straight Village golden age, when you could reel giddily between Bar 38, Squares and Brannigans without denting your updo. Since the Albert Hall opened and the Great Northern had a facelift, it sure feels different around here.
We were at Sakana for lunch, so my friend ordered a Bento Box, while I daringly went à la carte. The Bento was solid, its high points being hot and crunchy salmon panko teriyaki and a spritely Asian slaw. Based on our visit, the sushi’s not at Umezushi level, but it easily beats treadmill sushi chains like Wasabi. My smoked eel nigiri was spot on, and the futomaki rolls were tarted up a bit with good sauces. A main of salmon teppanyaki failed to move me – yeah, it’s a piece of grilled salmon, so my bad for ordering boring, but I was expecting more for £11.
The side of Japanese rice was a tasty thing, studded with vegetables and seaweed shards, but the wakame salad was dull. Though the small cardamom, coconut and passion fruit panna cotta supplied as one component of our Bento Box was nice enough, it was effortlessly trumped by my molasses tart, a sinfully thick rectangle of vanilla fudge accessorised with apple ice cream (a tip from early bird Bacon on the Beech via Twitter).
But when our bill came, there was a less pleasant surprise: a 10 percent service charge, that guaranteed bringer of bad vibes. To make things worse, our server forgot to type the full amount into the machine. We were unceremoniously flagged down while exiting the restaurant and stood around for an awkward amount of time while he sorted out extracting that fiver and change from us. Yes, this place should make a lot of money, but must they be quite so enthusiastic about it? Still, I look forward to trying out the Pan Asian menu at a later date.