There is no sushi on the menu, which I assume is a nod to the fact that to become a sushi chef in Japan requires a long apprenticeship. Unlike other pseudo-Japanese restaurants in Manchester and elsewhere, they don't pretend to be able to do sushi, so there isn't any, although there is a number of dishes of sashimi served on the 'don' bowl of sushi rice, which if you want to think of it in this way, makes a rustic or DIY version of sushi.
I think the absence of sushi shows a very laudable focus and authenticity (and more than a hint of equally laudable pedantry), as I'm sure they could produce vastly superior sushi than that which is generally available in this country: their rice (very firmly described as only Japanese rice on the menu) is easily the equal of the best sushi rice I've had in this country.
Alongside the main menu, they do a bargain lunch offer, with a number of don dishes priced at just £5.95 (or £7.95 for the salmon versions) and one noodle dish, and including a bowl of home-made miso soup.
I started with some gyoza - home-made prawn dumplings. These were very impressive. I've read some criticism of the 'pasta', but I thought it was just right. Though the real star was the fresh, vibrant filling, with beautifully fresh prawns, the like of which I've certainly not had elsewhere in Chinatown. Sourcing of ingredients is clearly done well here.
|The interior of the gyoza|
|Organic Teriyaki Salmon Don|
Miso soup doesn't ever really do much for me, and had it not been included, I wouldn't have ordered it. But here again was a balanced, understated, savoury flavour, far removed from the stale dishwater that is sometimes passed off in pseudo-Japanese restaurants in this country.
Yuzu is not going to impress anyone who wants big, bold flavours, but I think its accomplished, authentic cooking must make it one of the best Japanese restaurants, certainly outside London. It's very focussed, and, although I can't say this authoritatively, it felt more like I imagine Japanese home cooking than you normally find.
Desserts are peremptory - bought-in Cheshire ice creams. No doubt very nice, but I didn't bother.
With a bottle of Kirin Ichiban beer, my bill for the above came to just £14.05, which I think is really exceptional value.