Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Kyotoya - Season 2 Episode 1

Date: Friday 18th January 2013

Address: 28 Copson Street, Withington, Manchester, M20 3HB, 0161 445 2555

I'm back!

After taking a much needed sabbatical (from blogging) I think my experiences from the past year have broadened my knowledge in the fine dining. From the burgers of America, the street food of Kenya, and the Peking Duck of China, I do consider myself as a more well rounded diner than previous. So my first review on my return, I thought it would make sense to try this great little Japanese restaurant in Withington, as my taste buds have so recently tasted the fantastic eateries Japan had to offer. I actually came across this little gem as Trip Adviser rates them as one of the highest rated restaurants in Manchester.

It is probably unfair for me to compare this place with the food I had in Japan, so I will try and judge this place as a Japanese restaurant in England.

The actual restaurant is very small, it could only fit around 15-20 people, but to be honest it kind of added to the cramped Tokyo feel. It's a low budget restaurant so the decor was not extravagant, however it had true Japanese charm. The staff were all friendly and welcoming, not as much as the Japanese were in Japan but still very nice. In Japan, on entry the staff all yell to you 'irasshaimase' (sounds like 'wasa wasa' when they say it fast) even when busy, which means welcome, but unfortunately they did not here.

The menu tried to incorporate a lot of different Japanese dining, from gyoza (dumplings) to Ramen (noodles) to a range of sushi dishes. I really had a hankering for sushi so this was the majority of my order. On the menu, if you are an inexperienced sushi taster then you could order set platters however it wasn't clear what was included in the sushi platter. I personally went with ordering individually however you could only order it in a set of six unfortunately, stopping you from ordering more variety.

I personally thought the sushi variety was quite thin, but then again I think I'm judging harshly from the huge variety of sushi I had in Japan. They also had sashimi, which is literally sliced raw fish by itself, but I knew I wasn't a fan from previous experiences. It's a first I've seen sashimi in Manchester.

Between the two of us, we ordered five plates of 6 pieces. One plate of gyoza, three plates of nigiri sushi (sliced fish on rice) and one plate of maki sushi (rolled sushi). The chicken gyoza was pretty good. Not as crispy as I like but still as juicy. If you like your Chinese dumplings then I think these will be the dish of choice for you. Gyoza is my personal preference over the Chinese dish.

The maki sushi we ordered was the prawn tempura (cooked rather than raw). Maki isn't that popular in Japan, unless the rice rolls fish eggs, so I didn't have it much over there. Even though this is a western touch on a Japanese dish, it was delicious. The warm prawns in the rolled rice blended really well.

The nigiri sushi was just great. We ordered all the available fish options, so the smoked salmon, prawns, and tuna sushi. Wasn't too much a fan of the smoked salmon, wishing I ordered the normal salmon. The prawn nigiri however was gorgeously sweet and tender. The tuna was my favourite though, with the fish so succulent. Watch out though, you may get a piece with a tad too much wasabi so make sure you have a glass of water just in case. The sushi in my opinion is the best I have had in Manchester, if not outside Japan, so for certain I will be back.

The bill came back at under £30 which in my opinion is great for what we ordered. The best thing about this place is there were still a range of dishes I still need to try, from the Ramen to the cooked sea-bass. Also if the restaurant is full, or you just rather eat in the comfort of your own home, they do have a take away option, which is the first I have seen for a Japanese restaurant. For sure I'll be back, if not for the sushi then to try one of their other great looking dishes.

8.5 out of 10 rating.