Have you ever sat down to enjoy some Japanese food and thoroughly embarrassed yourself by A) not knowing how to use chopsticks or B) not having a clue what anything on the menu means and accidentally ordering kangaroo bollock?
Yeah, me too, but I’m here to help. Nobody should have to go through that twice. Find below a complete breakdown of everything you will find on a sushi menu and where you can eat it in Manchester.
Sashimi is Japanese food in its purest form and consists of expertly sliced fish that is of the highest quality. There is never any rice, and it is almost always raw. It is best for those who enjoy the taste and texture of fish – don’t be jumping straight on to the sashimi boat if your only other experience is with battered cod.
If you are trying it for the first time, I would suggest starting with salmon. Mild flavoured with a great texture that isn’t massively dissimilar to smoked salmon makes this familiar territory. The salmon sashimi from Australasia uses Scottish salmon from Loch Duart, which is a nice touch, as it is safe to say we can boast some of the most excellent seafood in the world on our chilly little shores.
The classic sashimi is with tuna (Maguro), and if you want to try the best tuna you have ever tasted go to Umezushi near Victoria Station. They have three different kinds of tuna sashimi dictated by the fat content. It has a vibrant, liver-y red colour and it is just stunning. It comes with a hefty price tag, but I do assure you it is worth its weight in gold in my opinion.
Yuzu in China town does a mixed dish served in a Donburi bowl over rice. This is a great place to dive in and get to grips with the fish you will and will not eat raw. For example, I am not a fussy eater in the slightest, and I will gobble down Uni (sea urchin) and Unagi (eel), but I cannot stand the texture of raw scallop. Do not expect to have to enjoy everything. But my only advice would be to try as much as you can to make an honest and fair judgement. You never know, you might surprise yourself.
Next on your journey should be a stop off in Nigiri town. This falls under the general sushi-umbrella as it consists of cooked fish with rice. Sushi rice is hugely starchy and sticky and can be shaped and moulded easily. The rice is sweetened with sugar with added sourness from rice wine vinegar. Nigri is a finger-shaped roll of rice about two inches long and one inch thick. It is topped a thin slice of fish. However, Nigiri is not necessarily raw fish, and often it can be topped with butterflied prawn (Ebi), omelette (Tamagoyaki), or even meat.
Sapporo Teppanyaki has an incredible selection of Nigiri with some unusual traditional toppings. For example fish roe (Tobiko), seaweed (Hiyashi Wakame) and Inari sushi, which as deep-fried tofu pockets filled with sushi rice.
Maki means ‘roll’ in Japanese, and this is the kind of sushi which is most famous. Maki consists of a sheet of seaweed (nori) wrapped around rice and filling. The centre consists typically of a combination of fish and vegetables. Hosomaki are the small rolls which usually have just one filling such as tuna, cucumber, or salmon. Futomaki is the larger version of these, and they often contain more fish and sometimes more than one filling.
Uramaki is a ‘backwards roll’ with the rice on the outside and the seaweed and filling in the middle. My absolute favourite is the prawn tempura Uramaki from Sakana called the Tiger Roll and consists of deep-fried prawn, cucumber, shallots, and Japanese Mayo. If you want something even more indulgent, try their Tuna Sashimi on top of crispy rice – my mouth waters just thinking about it.
Temaki is a cone-shaped piece of nori which is filled with rice and filling. These are much bigger, quite substantial, and NOT for sharing. If you want to give one a go try the tuna-avocado from Sushi Ring in Chorlton, or if you are out and about the ones from Nudo Sushi Box are not a bad shout.
Many sushi rolls have been adopted and adapted by the West. Most famously, the California Roll is an uramaki roll with the rice on the outside and always filled with avocado, or the Philadelphia roll which contains everything you love on a bagel. It is common for chefs to take sushi making techniques and experiment with flavours that are non-traditional.
Luckily for us Mancunians, there is a lot of this experimental ‘western sushi’ around. Cottonopolis uses pretty traditional flavours on its menu but plays around with local ingredients like Scottish salmon and local seared beef. While Neighbourhood gets creative with fillings like teriyaki beef, crispy duck and salt and pepper cod. I like the sushi here, and I know I’ll get a slap on the wrist from purists, but I love that they stick with Pan Asian flavours yet still push the boundaries of what sushi can be.
I hope that makes things a little clearer. There’s nothing worse than staring at a menu and not having a clue what it means. Whether you’re a pescatarian or a fish-phobe, you do not have any excuse to not start eating sushi in Manchester.