Confidential grabs a word with Umezushi owner Terry Huang to find out...
Last week Confidential reported that award-winning Japanese restaurant Umezushi had secured the lease on a second archway over the road.
After five years, they have outgrown their fifteen-seat restaurant on Mirabel Street, close to the Manchester Arena, and have just got hold of the keys to the slightly larger unit across the road.
We know 'Kitchen in an Arch' will combine a prep kitchen with a specialist seafood deli, but we wanted to dig a little deeper, so we called co-owner Terry Huang to find out more...
So, why the new site?
Terry Huang: “We’ve outgrown our current site, we’re struggling for space between preparation and service, so the new archway will house a dedicated production kitchen and a shop.”
But if the newer site is bigger, why don’t they just swap archways?
TH: “Apart from the cost implications, we think swapping sites might mean that Umezushi loses its charm. Our restaurant is just the right size for what we do. Anything bigger and we risk losing our special character.”
How will the deli element work?
TH: “Well it’ll be designed primarily to service Umezushi, so it’ll be where we do a lot of our preparations for the restaurant. Each element and ingredient will be prepared to Umezushi standards, but will be available for customers to take away to complete the final assembly stage themselves. We have spent years learning how to treat each ingredient, so we can now prepare all that for customers to finish off at home.”
Pretty much everything that Umezushi offer on their menu will be available from the new shop, including raw or cooked and seasoned sushi rice and seaweed, as well as prepared seafood and fish; fresh sea bass, sea bream, salon, yellow tail amberjack, tiger prawns, scallops – all pin-boned, filleted, poached or raw, just as they serve it in the restaurant.
If it’s on the menu, you might also be able to purchase the eel they use to make their delicious nigiri – because, let’s be honest, dispatching a live eel, removing the spinal cord, portioning it up, cooking it on charcoal and basting it with a special blend of Teryaki sauce is a bit of a faff, even for the most accomplished home cook.
As if this wasn’t enough to make you feel as warm and cosy as you would smothered in a newly cooked batch of sushi rice, the good news is that all this Umezushi restaurant quality food will cost less than it would across the road in the restaurant.
To help you master the art, Umezushi will now have the room to be able to hold sushi workshops in the new kitchen space.
When will it be open?
TH: “We are preparing to launch a crowd funding campaign to raise some investment, which will go live later this year. In return for pledging cash, customers will be able to some on a sushi making workshop or we’ll offer different levels of membership. We’re working on the details now.”
Will you ever expand and open an Umezushi in a different city or even in the suburbs?
TH: “No, we want to leave Umezushi as it is. We do have other ideas that we’re building towards. Going forward, we’re keen to develop the different styles of the food we do like tempura or kushiyaki and perhaps develop small concepts within that. Keep to our size but become a specialist thanks to the new unit.”
Have you been surprised by the growth in Umezushi’s popularity?
TH: “Yes, definitely, really surprised. In our own mind, we think there are so many things that we can still do better but the recognition has been a nice surprise.”
Do you think you might be in the running for a Michelin star?
TH: “It’s not something that we’ve really thought about. I would be very, very surprised. We’re just doing what we enjoy. We want our customers to leave happy and for us to get better at what we do every day.”
More info on Kitchen in an Arch to follow.