Restaurant Review: Australasia, Spinningfields in Manchester
Australasia is a swish sushi restaurant located underground in Manchester’s Spinningfields district; there you’ll find a mixture of Instagram ready millennials, primed to be photographed with platters of California Rolls, but also real foodies too.
Not only does this place look good, but, more importantly, their food tastes good too. My sushi loving sister, Charlye, and I went for dinner there in mid-March and from the moment we sat down and sipped a glass of champagne, we knew we’d be in for a good night.
The menu is as conventional or as unconventional as you want to make it; it’s broken up into small plates, which can work as starters or sharers and then bigger plates, aka main courses. As opposed to doing a first course and second course, we opted for several small plates – the perfect option for two indecisive eaters.
To save us being overwhelmed with food (up there with one of the best problems you can have), our waitress structured the meal into cold and hot dishes. First up we shared a tuna tartare, salmon nigiri and a mixed sushi platter. Now, if you’ve read any of my reviews before, you’ll know I am a tuna tartare obsessive and Australasia’s offering ranked pretty high.
We also loved the sushi roll assortment – our favourite was the crab, which was fresh and creamy thanks to the avocado. The generous serving of nigiri was smooth and tasted even better when smothered in soy. Speaking of accompaniments, we were very impressed with the freshly-grated wasabi which puts pre-packeted offerings to shame. It was zinging with flavour and didn’t taste medicinal, like the usual fare served at most high street sushi chains.
Next up came the hot dishes – we opted for black cod, miso aubergine, griddled asparagus and an iceberg salad. In my opinion, there’s literally no point in dining at a sushi restaurant if you don’t order miso aubergine – the heavenly match of earthy aubergine and sweet miso is a partnership of dreams and Australasia’s dish was melt-in-your-mouth perfection.
An unexpected highlight was the ice-berg salad – essentially a huge plate of crispy lettuce topped with gooey caramelised onions. It’s not often I get excited about lettuce, but the contrast in textures and flavours worked a treat. My only complaint was the black cod. It wasn’t unpleasant, but void of flavour and, for £29, I expected more.
From the lowest point of the meal, to the best – the pudding. Our night at Australasia was the night I broke my melting chocolate dome virginity. Previously, I’d dismissed the dessert as something which works better on Instagram, but this decadent dish proved me wrong. The hot fudge sauce was incredible, as were the shards of chocolate and the sweet, salted caramel ice cream. I’m not embarrassed to admit I mopped the sauce up with my fingers.
Unashamedly, we also guzzled a bottle of Saint Clare Sauvignon Blanc – a wonderfully tangy white wine, bursting with fruity flavours, as advised by our effortlessly cool waitress (NB: there wasn’t one member of staff who wasn’t attractive/approachable).
Admittedly, Australasia isn’t in the running for the title of world’s best sushi restaurant, but you can’t deny it’s offering something special. The food (bar the black cod) is extremely tasty, the venue is stylish and, as Manchester restaurants go, this is one of the best.
Address: 1 The Avenue, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3AP
Phone: 0161 831 0288