Jonathan Schofield is in love with Chorlton’s city centre sushi sibling
Suddenly you have a new favourite restaurant, along with the other eight in Manchester, and you think how? It’s the package, of course; service, atmosphere and, definitely here, the food.
The whole point of chopsticks while you wait is to use them as drum sticks
Oh the food. Let’s do that first. Quick, get Simon Armitage the Poet Laureate to muse something up about the eel nigiri (£4.20) because this was just spectacular. It’s the oily slickness of this slippery character that wins you over, while the seat belt of seaweed that binds it together and the perfectly sticky rice underneath were the ballast that made the dish float. Simply 10/10.
Then came the spicy soft shell crab for twelve quid that was a picture of delight as well as presenting gobfuls of joy coated with tobiko, fish roe, and heated semi-furnace like with toagarashi - chilli in other words. There was a lush quality to this dish, cooled down by cucumber, that otherwise useless gourd.
The wagyu nigiri (£15) was almost as good as the eel. Almost. We all know about wagyu beef. It’s legendary. I’ve read a lot about it. Apparently wagyu sirloin, while still attached to the animal, is tended by monks tickling the bovine with feather dusters, as vestal virgins dance the dance of the nine veils in front of it, and actors dressed like President Abraham Lincoln, for literally no reason, read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People sat on brocaded settees drinking Babycham. Or some such, windy foodie bollocks. To simplify things, this wagyu was melty. Soft. Delicious.
I was on my own, which suited my mood, so I ordered the scallop sashimi for £8.50 too. These morsels were almost sweet and while lovely, didn’t carry the edge of the other dishes. To be fair, they were only disappointing in comparison to the other dishes. In and of themselves, they were more than suitable.
Sushi Marvel in Ancoats is tiny. There’s one in Chorlton too, which somehow I’ve missed. I’ll be going there soon. The kitchen takes up most of the space, there are about twelve covers and most were taken on my Wednesday visit. Helpful signs on glass panels advise you on the right way to go about things: only soy with fish, for example.
Point six, about chopsticks on the menu, I ignored. This says that ‘rubbing your chopsticks together and pretending they’re drum sticks’ is considered rude. If you’re ever had kids then the whole point of chopsticks while you wait is to use them as drum sticks. But I ignored the advice because I was a barbarian and used a fork.
This whole place is a small morsel of joy in the vast Victoria Buildings, the city council’s first slum clearance scheme from the 1890s. It sits opposite the Wing Yip’s equally vast supermarket and restaurant on Oldham Road, like a tiny Japanese David up against a Chinese Goliath. I love them both. They make life more interesting. The food is better in Sushi Marvel though. That eel nigiri is as good as anything in the North West. It’s my new weakness, it’s my Achilles’ eel.
Sushi Marvel, 90 Oldham Road, Manchester, M4 5EB
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All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Eel 10, crab 8, wagyu 8, scallops 7
It’s so small one person creates their own atmosphere
The co-owner served me and was willing to chat with a sense of humour