Black Truffle Wagyu With Champagne: Is This Manchester's Finest Japanese Restaurant?

From affordable tasting menus at Dai Chi to a full feast in The Aubrey, which is tucked away below none other than Knightsbridge's Mandarin Oriental Hotel, I've had my fair share of exceptional Japanese meals with the drop-dead gorgeous interiors to match. Having kept my eyes peeled for a venue promising to bring the capital's fine dining calibre to the city I call home, the arrival of MUSU was enough to make my stomach growl in anticipation. So much so, I was sat behind a table there before the restaurant had even officially opened.

MUSU Japanese Restaurant Manchester | DesignMyNight

MUSU Manchester Bridge Street is slick as they come.

Between the elegant casual dress code, sultry dark tones and hoards of staff waiting on your every need, this Bridge Street spot had all the ingredients of the Japanese fine dining experiences I'm used toAs we were led past a sleek light-up bar to our seats for the evening, I admired the intricate wall murals and quickly realised we'd be seated right in front of the open kitchen - the best of restaurant entertainment, in my opinion. Watching the sushi chef's deft hands at work wasn't enough to distract me from the MUSU Manchester menu though, as I eagerly surveyed the kaiseki (multi-course tasting meal).

On the cards? Seven courses (£110 per person) with wine pairings (£50 each). Our first glass was quickly poured, the knowledgeable sommelier taking us through the zesty and biscuit-like flavours of Guy De Chassey Grand Cru brut, a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Never did I think that a Champagne would be the match for beef, and yet the A5 Japanese Wagyu we munched through made each sip taste even better than our first. This marvel continued in the dish itself: tender meat accompanied by potato and a luxurious black truffle dashi. MUSU was off to a flying start.

MUSU Manchester Review | DesignMyNight

From caviar to rich froth, the savoury flavours here were divine.

This trend continued across a trio of buttery sashimi - akami (tuna), hamachi (yellowtail) and salmon - and two nigiri pieces. The latter I found particularly impressive, thanks to the fatty, melt-in-the-mouth o-toro (belly) being the best tuna I've ever eaten and the fact the madai (red sea bream) was complemented by sharp yuzu. Both these plates were washed down with a glass of Yves Cuilleron Condrieu La Petite Cote. Viogner might be my favourite white grape, so I'm a little biased, but the honeyed quality here was divine, topped off by peach, citrus and floral notes that make seafood shine. 

Next up was the miso-glazed black cod, decorated with N25 oscietra caviar and sitting in a cauliflower foam. Probably my most anticipated dish of the night, it definitely delivered on the umami I was expecting, while falling apart at the touch of a fork and having a delightfully caramelised crust. Although, I felt they could've been a bit more generous with the amount, given this was the seven-course menu's fish showstopper. 

We had hoped the size of the plates would progress from the two mouthfuls of Wagyu that started our meal, and were relieved to see that the crispy-skinned duck breast, leg gyoza, beetroot, sake and salsify would leave us a bit more satisfied on that front. It also happened to taste pretty darn amazing too. The balance of sweet and earthy flavours married perfectly with the bird, while the succulent dark meat stuffed inside a steaming gyoza certainly hit the spot for comfort on a cold Manchester evening. To accompany? The vanilla, cherry and tobacco-laced Philippe Livera Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Village.

MUSU Manchester Restaurant Review| DesignMyNight

Pud? They've got that nailed with a moreish white chocolate number.

For dessert, there was not just one, but two offerings. First, we got our lips around the pear, sweet sticky rice and plum-pickled ginger. Even for a sweet tooth like me, this one was all a bit too much on the sugar front. Although it was mellowed slightly by the Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise Domaine des Bernadins dessert wine, it could still do with a bit of tweaking. The salted white chocolate, however, was heaven on a plate. Served alongside almond crumble and a soy tuile, it nailed both texture and flavour to close our experience beautifully.

The DesignMyNight Digest 

New Japanese restaurant MUSU Manchester had a lot to live up to in my eyes, thanks to me having plenty of meals at London counterparts for comparison. Between innovative elements (like the white chocolate dessert's soy milk skin tuile), perfectly cooked meat or fish, and largely on-point flavours, my extremely high hopes for the quality of the food here were certainly met. Although, on portion size, it fell a little short. When you can get a more filling (but equally delish) meal for the same price or a lot less in the capital, some adjustments may be needed.

  💰 The damage: £160 each for seven courses with four wine pairings, plus service charge.

  📍  The location: 64 Bridge Street, M3 3BN.

  👌 Perfect for: Splashing the cash (big style).

 ⭐ Need to know: There's an eleven course option and premium wine pairings to upgrade your meal.


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