Our Kelly dives into Japanese cuisine, as she explores up-and-coming Manchester restaurant, Cottonopolis.
Foodies on a quest to find a venue and menu they can really get excited about.
The Northern Quarter has no shortage of places to eat, but if you’re tired of dirty burgers and artisan pizza, your faith in good food will be restored at Cottonopolis.
Ascend the candlelit stairs into the Grade II listed building, to discover high ceilings, a chic urban fit-out and warm, honeycomb lighting greeting you within. You can tell the owner is an architect (true story), and he’s done a fantastic job of reincarnating this old textile workshop.
Bustling with post-work drinkers, pre-dinner minglers and diners humming their satisfaction at the cocktails and sharing plates, we instantly knew we were in for a treat.
Our host, Keegan, joined us (literally) at our table, as he took a seat to talk us through the concept and extensive menu. You’ll find no starters and mains here – these Japanese small plates are categorised by their cooking method; steam, fire, oil and ice.
What Keegan didn’t know about the menu really wasn’t worth knowing. He could tell you exactly where the fish was caught, how each dish was cooked, and most importantly for us, how to spell everything as I frantically scribbled down his wisdom.
Here’s what we had the pleasure of sampling:
Japanese Tacos – £12
An unlikely addition to the specials board, we couldn’t resist sampling chef Joe’s take on tacos, and we certainly weren’t disappointed. Made from crispy tempura seaweed, the ‘tacos’ were loaded with tuna, tartar and salsa, served with a thick and creamy guacamole on the side. Holy guac, they were good.
Sushi Platter – £25
Cottonopolis take fresh fish deliveries six days a week, so it would have been rude not to sample their sushi platter. They constantly rotate the ingredients of this platter depending on the catch of the day, and use only line-caught fish to honour their commitment to sustainability.
On this occasion, we were treated to salmon and tuna sashimi; seabass, tuna and salmon nigiri; and avocado and mango maki. Hand-rolled to order, this beautifully presented platter tasted every bit as good as it looked, with oh-so tender fish and delicate, refreshing flavours in every bite.
Roasted Cobia – £14
Showcasing the versatility of the chefs, the third addition to the specials board was roasted cobia; a meaty, flaky fish that practically fell apart in our chopsticks after being slow-roasted in seaweed. Finished with a blowtorch for a smoky flavour, it was lifted by the sharp, tangy bite of a chilli salsa on the side.
Steamed Chicken Dumplings – £6.50
On the main menu, the options are equally tempting. Intrigued by the baskets passing from kitchen to table, we decided to sample the ‘shumai’ steamed chicken dumplings. These little parcels of joy were served steaming hot in their basket, with a firm and juicy morsel of meat inside a moreish dumpling surround. Don’t be fooled by the size – they are pretty filling!
Banoffee Cheesecake – £6
Mustering up the appetite to sample a dessert, we decided to share a banoffee cheesecake, which really sounded too good to be true. Served in a mini basket, with cream and slices of banana overflowing from the lid, this masterpiece had a rich toffee filling with a crumbly ginger biscuit base, and sweet pops of popcorn scattered on top. Needless to say, we finished the lot!
It was clear that just as much care and personality went into creating the drinks menu. As a pun-lover, I diligently read the cocktail menu, which featured ‘Ting Like a Bee’, ‘Sake-Wray Night Fever’ and ‘Kamm Together’ to name a few.
In the end, we sampled a Respect Your Elder – a floral concoction of gin, elderflower liqueur, vermouth and Chartreuse Elixir – as well as a couple of Japanese G&Ts made with Jinzu gin.
The drinks menu really did Japanese spirits justice; if you’re looking to sample Asian whisky and sake, Cottonopolis is a strong contender in the Northern Quarter…
Cottonopolis has landed with a bang, as it gives Japanese cuisine a hip new look and feel that fits right in with the Northern Quarter vibe. The original menu, quality of the food, and vibrant atmosphere make Cottonopolis Food & Liquor the complete package, and one that Manchester can’t seem to get enough of.
16 Newton Street
Tel: 0161 236 5144