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MUSU Review: Elevated Japanese Food In The Heart of Manchester

MUSU Review: Elevated Japanese Food In The Heart of Manchester

Japanese culture is having its moment in Manchester. In recent years, there’s been a boom of ramen joints, sake experiences and festivals across the city that celebrate the Land of The Rising Sun. It feels like Manchester is a place of infinite possibilities for Japanese food. And one restaurant has embodied that concept: MUSU.

Found on Bridge Street, MUSU offers a wide range of Japanese fare, catering towards an elevated dining experience. Arriving on a sunny Thursday afternoon, the restaurant had a welcome feel to it, from the staff who greeted us at the door, to the bartenders who made easy conversation as we selected our drinks. 

Silky sake and sushi 

For my colleagues, it was their first time at MUSU. For me, it was the third time. Going in the day was a new experience, though the décor always remains impressive. Bright, open spaces. Stylised geishas on the wall. An open kitchen to watch food being prepared in theatrical style. A stunning mural of Mount Fuji at the back of the restaurant. Stare at it long enough and you might start philosophising or reflecting on your place in the universe.

As a Japanese drinks enthusiast, I couldn’t help but get philosophical about the drinks menu. MUSU’s sake selection is solid, ranging from premium ginjos and daiginjos to pleasant futsushu (table) sake. I went for the Kura No Hana (Fair Maiden) junmai daiginjo. A smooth, silky choice with notes of peach, honey and aniseed. An appropriately named sake.

Moving on to the food menu, we had the Subayai set lunch menu. Here’s where the MUSU elevation philosophy came out. First up, sea bass and salmon sashimi arranged on a bed of ice with soy sauce. The sushi was light, melt in the mouth and elegant. Next, nigiri made from Hamachi and o-toro. The server recommended it be eaten in one bite to get the full flavour. It sounded like a good idea. It was.

The main course became the star of the show 

In between these two starters, I ordered my next sake. The Bessen futsushu. Light, fragrant, with notes of strawberry and lychee. If you’ve never tried sake, I recommend sampling different categories. All sake is worth trying, whether you’d like a highly fragrant daiginjo to cost-effective futsushu.

The main course became the star of the show. Tender teriyaki duck with pickled asparagus, spring onions and sesame. There wasn’t anything flashy about this dish – only lots of flavour and plenty of reasons to order a second helping. 

Then there was dessert. I couldn’t eat the set dish because of my nut allergy. Yet the chefs whipped up a pretty strawberry sorbet, ideal for cleaning my palate. 

At £35 per person, this set lunch menu provided a lot of value. There was a good combination of presentation, taste and attentiveness. The same can be said for all MUSU’s offerings. Whether you’re planning a lunch trip or a date night, you’ll be in a place that appreciates the craft of Japanese food, while not being afraid to tell its own story.

Musu is now also offering holders of a Canal St Card 20% off at all times excluding in December.

Bio: Jamie Ryder is the founder of Yamato Magazine, a journal that celebrates Japanese culture throughout the world. He’s also a certified sake sommelier and drinks copywriter, running a hospitality marketing newsletter called Drink To That. 

Published: 23-Sep-2023 (7259)

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