Jonathan Schofield enjoys the meal but thinks some dishes aren't quite right

CUBE Gallery opened in 1998. CUBE was an ancronym of Centre for the Urban Built Environment. It was a splendid design from Hodder + Partners in a former warehouse on Portland Street. I liked it even if the architectural and planning exhibitions were beyond arcane. The bookshop was good too but when the University of Salford, its main sponsor, pulled funding CUBE closed.

House of Fu with its food is falling between stools to my mind

That was in 2013 and subsequently that clever internal design has been home to food and drink. People might remember Leaf restaurant which never felt a bold enough presence in such a heavily designed place. House of Fu, a sister of the Leeds original, now occupies the two-floored unit and this seems to have the energy and character to fill the space. 

When I say energy and character, I also mean colour. In fact some areas are so orange, red, pink and neon it resembles a cross between a beauty salon and a childrens' nursery. I kept looking round on my visits for the bean bags and colouring pads. 

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Exterior of House of Fu Image: Confidentials
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Colours and neons Image: Confidentials

The staff are as cheerful and friendly as nursery staff. From the greeting to the table service they were excellent on both my visits. 

The food was hit and miss. My friend and I were all ramened out so we decided to attack the other bits of the menu. It's a truth universally acknowledged that every empty unit in British cities must now be filled with a ramen or sushi restaurant.  

The salmon tartare (£8.5) was very good indeed, lush in a louche manner, all slippery moisture and a combination of flavours that refreshed and entertained the palate. The citrus of the ponzu was key but I liked the nori (seaweed) inclusion. 

The prawn toast (£7.5) was a failure, tough as old boots and made sickly with over-generous trails of Kewpie mayonnaise which didn't seem to carry any umami character at all - apparently a characteristic. The more Kewpie I have the less I seem to like it. The little pot of sweet chilli didn't improve matters.  

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Salmon tartare was a hit Image: Confidentials
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Dismal prawn toast Image: Confidentials

My main of Fu katsu (£13.50) was a real win. The panko breadcrumb crusted chicken was a fabulous mix of crunch and tender, moist flesh. This must have been a very happy fowl. The curry sauce was thick, rich and generous, the cabbage and ginger cheered things up and the well-timed steamed rice filled me up.  

Then, as with the prawn toast, the teriyaki chicken (£14) was a disappointment. Something was wrong with the blend of the ingredients the garlic mayo, the shichimi (spicy) egg, the sesame, the pickled ginger, the nori, the chicken to make it claggy and unpleasant. The chicken coating was odd, almost like a heavy marmite mixed with treacle. Meanwhile, as my friend said, "The rice is not so much sticky as stuck."

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Excellent Fu katsu Image: Confidentials
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Yucky teriyaki chicken Image: Confidentials

The situation continued into the desserts although things were a little less extreme. The Yuzu meringue pudding (£6.5) was bland, especially the shortbread, while the Matcha Basque cheesecake was anything but. This was even more colourful than the interior design of House of Fu, the green Matcha tea providing that startling green shade. As this was a Basque cheesecake, there was no crust, but that doesn't matter as the lovely green tea flavour worked beautifully with the strawberry coulis.

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The meringue pudding is bland Image: Confidentials
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The Matcha Basque cheesecake is very very good Image: Confidentials
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A good ramen on a second visit Image: Confidentials

House of Fu with its food is falling between stools to my mind. I went back with one of my sons to double-check and the prawn toast was just as bad as on the review visit so the kitchen needs to look at that objectively. The crispy cauliflower was poor too. This second time though we enjoyed a very good spicy Fu tantanmen broth and excellent pork gyoza, so maybe that's the why to go on future visits. 

Anyhow, if you drop in and you feel you need to make a song and dance about any aspect of House of Fu's service or food, that'll be easy. The restaurant has very good value karaoke rooms in its basement and the lovely staff will no doubt be extremely helpful with setting you up. 

House of Fu, 113-115 Portland St, Manchester. M1 6DW

House of Fu Manchester is on Confidential Guides

Recommended by Confidential Guides

The Scores

All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, and ALWAYS paid for by and completely independent of any commercial relationship. They are a first-person account of one visit by one, knowledgeable restaurant reviewer and don't represent the company as a whole.

If you want to see the receipt as proof this magazine paid for the meal then a copy will be available upon request. Or maybe ask the restaurant.

Venues are rated against the best examples of their type. What we mean by this is a restaurant which aspires to be fine dining is measured against other fine dining restaurants, a mid-range restaurant against other mid-range restaurants, a pizzeria against other pizzerias, a teashop against other teashops, a KFC against the contents of your bin. You get the message.

Given the above, this is how we score: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: sigh and shake your head, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: nothing's that good is it?

  • Food 6/10

    Prawn toast 4, Salmon tartare 7.5, Teriyaki chicken 5, Fu Katsu 8, Yuzu meringue pudding 6, Matcha Basque cheesecake 7

  • Service 4/5

  • Ambience 3.5/5