Tag Archives: Sushi

Seoul Kimchi and why to go off the beaten track.

3 Jun

About a year ago, and after an offer to study at university, I came to Manchester to suss it out. My first thoughts of this mother city were, uninspiringly, that it was big. Bigger than the little Leicester that I had come from. We arrived at night and the sprawl of lights spread into the distance, surrounded by dark hills. If anything, I felt claustrophobic – away from the comfort of familiarity. 

The morning dawned in Salford Quays and we drove our way around the city, passing the conspicuous Seoul Kimchi along the way. These were not roads known to me and I suffered to remember the place we had passed. 

A year later and a taxi ride along that same route in which I recognised the back end of the Manchester Royal Infirmary, I’ve found it. By now the persistent feeling of being alien has disappeared and the investigation into the whereabouts of this restaurant has been solved. Welcome to Seoul Kimchi. 

When we visited, it was a miserable day. The fact that it was so desolate (grey, drizzle, icy wind) must be remembered because when we left Seoul Kimchi, we were skipping out of the door. Nothing improves my mood more than a good feed (and nothing worsens my disposition more than hunger). I was satisfied. 

The interior was tight, only four separate tables and two long counters. Somehow, we arrived at the right moment to be shown to the seats with a fascinating view of the kitchen (always interested). It took us a while to order as the menu had many traditional Korean dishes that I had never come across; curiosity is forever making me slow with decisions. Eventually, we did decide on a few (an awful lot) of our favourites and one exciting extra. 

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Seoul Kimchi, Manchester

First to arrive were the accompaniments. We had homemade cucumber pickles with sesame, wickedly hot kimchi and –  when I asked – a type of bean curd in a mildly flavoured chilli oil. The latter I had never tried before… It was delicate and smooth, though I have yet to find out precisely what is it. 

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Beef and kimchi gyoza; Seoul Kimchi, Manchester

Soon after came our beef and kimchi gyoza. Without a doubt, gyoza – no matter the filling – are a favourite of mine; I cannot help but be thrilled when I spy them on a menu. These particular gyoza perfectly alterated between crisp and succulent. 

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Sushi; Seoul Kimchi, Manchester

With the sushi, the tamago was the only disappointment – I didn’t find it quite as gratifying as I usually do. Apart from that, I have no complaints! The standout pieces were the tobiko – it was sublime, the ‘pop’ not too strong – and the unagi, which from my first taste at Umami I have fallen in love with – it lived up to all of my expectations.

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Seafood Stew; Seoul Kimchi, Manchester

Lastly came the bowl of seafood stew and rice. Packed with baby octopus, clams, mussels, fish, shrimp, it bubbling away at us until it cooled enough to eat (believe me, I tried tackling it as it was still boiling and funnily enough, burnt my tongue). The half-moon shaped daikon added a curious, yet much needed, crunch to the dish. It was lovely, the amount of chilli just what we needed to warm our cockles and send us off into the cold outside air once more. 

 

Yours, 

Joss

Seoul Kimchi on Urbanspoon

Sakura’s Sushi for Valentine’s (let’s try not to get soppy).

16 Feb

Without sounding like a sickening romantic, waking up to a cherry tree just starting to blossom is pretty special – especially when a pair of sparrows of just starting to nest… Valentine’s Day for me, more than any idea of a commercial money-making scheme (though I will add this – people have been giving gifts since the fourteen hundreds, so it can’t all be fo’ the dollar), marks the end of winter and the start of spring. Milder weather and longer days have just become noticeable – it shouts, almost there guys! Almost there! And – dare I say it – I really, really, really enjoy Valentine’s day. It’s like Christmas, and only extra-cynical, extra-grumpy people don’t like that.

The night before we had spent (literally) hours and hours trying to choose somewhere that a) wasn’t booked up, b) wasn’t painfully formal, c) wasn’t restricted to a Valentine’s menu (don’t even get me started on those things) and d) wasn’t going to cost us an arm and a leg, twice over. We found Sakura, a relaxed Japanese-style cocktail lounge (or so we thought) offering 50% off of the menu for students. Get in.

So, at 5.30pm on Valentine’s, after abandoning the cat to her cackling ‘birdiebirdiebiridie’ (she was intently watching the sparrows) on the windowsill, we went forth to indulge in another love of my life: Sushi. Lots and lots of sushi.

Heading into Manchester and wandering on down by the Cornerhouse, we made our way into Deansgate Locks. Even though a student I wouldn’t exactly say I was well acquainted with Deansgate as an alcohol haven, so when our ‘quiet night out grabbing a bite to eat’ turned out to reside inside one of the biggest clubs on the main strip, I was dubious to say the least. However, I was quickly reassured as our lovely waitress – a Ms. Jenna – let us know that the downstairs partay area wouldn’t be making a squeak of noise until gone nine.

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Sakura, Manchester.

First impressions from inside was that it was gorgeous, if in a slightly glaring way. Though not harsh, the red statement pieces were obviously not meant to be delicate. Being sat down to our rose-petalled table, we were each brought a complimentary shot of ‘love heart’ sake. A worthy gesture and never one to say no to free alcohol, I immediately realised that (my god) sake is not for me. A few nights before I had sat at the back of a bus (I am a student), with me and my partner-in-crime attempting to swig away, and inevitably cringing to, lychee flavoured rice wine that tasted disturbingly similar to the ‘love heart’ sake. On the bus night we had pinpointed the taste to that of saccharine caper vinegar. Mmmmm.  Perhaps it is something my palate will just have to grow accustomed to.

Nevermind, because a Lychee Mojito and a Tokyo Collins (which, my dear reader, were also half price) were well on their way to the table and they soon served to quell the shudders. They were, in fact, altogether yummy. Our waitress took our rather extensive order yet returned to let us know that the tomago nigiri was not available. Offering us any other nigiri free of charge, I couldn’t halp but feel gratified. After a little wait – I’m always suspicious if food arrives too quickly – it arrived.

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Selection; Sakura, Manchester.

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Selection; Sakura, Manchester.

Showmanship was evident in the presentation and although it was neat, I’m not sure the effect was as much of a success as Umami’s (a much smaller establishment on Oxford Road). Such things as the wasabi being moulded into a stiff shape rather than having the fresh, natural texture it originally should have showed that elegance and refinement had been sacrificed for drama. Of course, in a place such as Sakura, effect is ultimately crucial.

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Selection; Sakura, Manchester.

The chicken katsu uramaki and the prawn tempora hosomaki could not be faulted, and the beef nigiri was also exquisite. Our replacement for the tomago – a salmon, fresh dill and wasabi nigiri was a highlight on the plate. I would add that possibly the grade of the sesame salmon sashimi was lower than that at Umami, also that of the tuna hosomaki. This said, the salmon teriyaki had us both fighting over the remaining pieces! Another drink (Midori Slipper and Tokyo Ice Tea) and we decided that just under two hours was enough to spend at Sakura.

Sakura, in determining, was good but it wasn’t great; its saving grace was our waitress who was wonderful all round. I enjoyed being able to see into the kitchen from an over-looking balcony on the second floor but, like the splashes of crimson, everything was about melodrama rather than content. The food was nice enough (note the non-enthusiastic vocabulary) but the drinks were better; it’s good value for students eating sushi but it is no where near the best. If you need somewhere to eat before congregating downstairs for loud music and copious alcohol, it’s a decent place to pick.

Yours,

Joss. 

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