We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.

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I don’t know how many times I can apologise for the lack of posts but to make up for it I’ve got one AWESOME post. I am VERY EXCITED about this latest entry. 

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If you’ve been living in Manchester for a while you’ll know that when it comes to GOOD QUALITY sushi options are somewhat lacking. We have the commercial chains of yo! sushi - which in my eyes equates to poor quality, overpriced and often dirty. Then we have the local chain of wasabi which offers supermarket standard sushi. There are others such as Samsi but I’ve not been there for a long time (at least 5 years) so I don’t want to comment on the quality of their food. 

So, Big Lips ninja was told about this place through work. It’s called Umezushi and it’s not open to the public yet till next week. So, to get a gist of what their customers would like to offer they have invited various people including their local residents to come to a preview of their menu, which I understand hasn’t been finalised yet. This means there were no set prices. At the end of the meal, we were presented with an envelope and we were told to pay what you thought the meal was worth. 

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The restaurant itself is located on a side street near the Manchester Evening News Arena, kind of behind the LiteCraft shop on Mirabel Street. There are a few car parks near by where you can park but there’s no on street parking as such. When we arrived we were greeted by the manager/owner (sorry, not sure what his exact status is). He was very friendly and offered us drinks straight away. I went for the green tea. The first thing I noticed about this place is that it’s very small. I think the capacity is around 20 to 30 people (if that), the furniture is very simple. The walls are painted in a very neutral colour. There are lampshades hung over pendant lights which were not on. The room was lit by some heavy industrial lighting about these pendant lights. The music playing in the background was the local radio. At this stage, I think they are still working on the atmosphere of this place, the point I’m trying to make is that it’s a blank canvas with plenty of potential. You can either sit at the counter, directly in front of the chef or on a table. 

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Because it was a preview, we weren’t able to choose what we were eating. We were presented with a number of sushi dishes and as each one came we were told what kind of dish it was. There were four of us in total. 

Here are some pictures of what we ate

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On the whole, the quality of the sushi we ate was exceptional. I have not had sushi like this for a LONG time. The chef’s ability to create different sushi from their fish of the day is worth commending. I particularly enjoyed the sashemi. The only downfall here is that the batter of the tempura was slightly too thick. However, we were there to give feedback to the manager and his team so they can perfect things before their grand opening next week. 

I don’t feel it’s fair to give ratings just yet, as they are not ready for the public yet which means I’ll have to return and make a proper review. I am VERY EXCITED about this place and if they serve fresh fish like this I can see this being a regular place for me to visit. 

So, if you are a lover of sushi, be sure to keep a close eye on this space. This is very promising indeed.

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Hi all,

Another apology for the lack of food reviews. It’s summer and it’s been a busy time in between birthdays and holidays!

I have been to Koreana twice in the last month and personally I think it’s the best Korean restaurant in Manchester. There’s competition from Baek-du, Seoul Kimchi and Ban di Bul. I’ve been to all of them in the last year and I still think Koreana is the best. It’s been open since 1985 - so it’s the same age as me! :D

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The restaurant is located on the same street as San Carlo, opposite the House of Fraser, off Deansgate. It’s relatively easy to find. The restaurant is cosy, not over pretentious and offers good quality home made food. I love the atmosphere of this place and I always leave feeling satisfied.  I’m going to recommend a few of my favourites!

For starters, I pretty much ALWAYS have Beef tartar, unless my companion has a phobia of raw meat. This tastes so good. They mix the raw egg into the beef in front of you and you can smell the sesame oil. Even writing about it, is making me salivate. 

Ok, I get that it looks a bit like worms on the photo - but TRUST ME this tastes damn good. 

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Sometimes, if I’m feeling greedy I will order a pancake too - not anything special but still tastes good.

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For mains, I almost always order beef rib galbi. The meat is marinated so well and the beef is always tender and juicy. I love chewing the meaty bits off the bone. If you’re not big on bones then you can order the same dish without the meat. Less messy but not as fun to eat.

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Along with beef rib galbi, bi bim bab the Korean staple is compulsory. At Koreana, they ask you whether you want sticky rice or boiled rice when you’re ordering. I always go for sticky. I’m not even sure what the boiled rice tastes like. The bi bim bab comes with a fried egg with vegetables and then you have a choice of beef, salmon, chicken, spicy prawn, vegetarian and kimchi. I personally prefer beef or salmon. It costs between £7 and £8 depending on what you have in your bi bim bab. 

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I’ve never had dessert here, partly because I’m so full. They have a few home made desserts but can’t comment on how good they are. 

The toilets here are clean but the only problem is that there is only one cubicle and on weekends it gets pretty busy.

Overall, I see Koreana as a reliable choice of restaurant. I’ve never been disappointed by their food. I’ve been several times and will be sure to be going back again in the future.

If you’re planning on going on the weekend then book in advance. It can get busy.

Atmosphere: 4/5

Food: 4/5

Value: 4/5

Service: 3/5

Toilets: 3/5

Koreana - Korean Restaurant

40A King Street West, Manchester M3 2WY
Tel. 0161 832 4330

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Coldplay live at the Etihad Stadium. 09.06.12
Wishing I could re-live every moment…

Coldplay live at the Etihad Stadium. 09.06.12
Wishing I could re-live every moment…

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Koreana review coming soon. Stay tuned :)

Koreana review coming soon. Stay tuned :)

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I’d also like to introduce the new member of our team. He’ll be visiting some of the restaurants with me! It was given to me for a birthday present. So, thanks =)

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Hi fellow ninjas!

I admit I’ve been bad at posting these past few weeks but exams are over and I’m catching up on LIFE which of course includes eating! 

So, I thought I tell you guys about a regular place us food ninjas like to visit. We have been going to this little place for about a year now and we feel it’s value for money and cosy. If you’ve lived in Manchester for a while then you’ll know that Vietnamese food is very limited. I’ve been to a few and have never really been impressed by any of them. I am a massive fan of pho. When I cycled Vietnam I virtually survived on Pho so searching for a taste of Vietnam in Manchester has been challenging. This place sells a mixture of Thai and Vietnamese food. I think the people that work here are Vietnamese though…

It’s a relatively small place - it’s more cafe style rather than a restaurant - Consists of a few tables. They open at lunch but the menu is limited to some sort of set meal during lunch times so if you want to try different items, it’s best to go in the evenings. The decor is not anything special but doesn’t feel tacky either. 

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We always go for bo bia for starters (I think some people call these Goi Cuon but I’m sure these are different things - different fillings perhaps? If anyone knows please feel free to let me know!). They are more commonly known as Vietnamese Spring Rolls. It’s 4 spring rolls which are pretty big and for £3.50, I feel these are value for money! These also come with an excellent sauce =) 

These rolls are well filled with lettuce, rice vermicelli, coriander and king prawns. These are not actually that hard to make so it’s more about the freshness of the ingredients. Like I said, we’ve been here a few times and the quality of the ingredients have never disappointed me. 

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Sometimes, if I’m feeling really hungry then I’ll get a tom yum! 

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The good thing about this soup is that it’s packed with a lot of king prawns and they are always juicy. The bad thing is that it lacks body in the flavour, all I can really taste is tomato… it’s kind of just a spicy tomato sauce. 

The other dish which I get on a regular basis is PHO. You can have a choice of chicken, beef or pork. Traditionally it comes with pieces of raw beef but getting that in Manchester is probably an impossible task. You’re lucky if you’re not getting frozen beef *cough wookooshi*. 

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The best thing about this pho is its soup base. It’s rich in flavour and even the noodles have taste. I must admit this is my “safe” option - I know this will give me a satisfying meal. The portions are also big so being Chinese and all it gets extra cred. 

The other food ninjas like to get away from my boring “safe” choices of food. They also offer more Westernised forms of Asian food. Here’s Leo’s sweet and sour fish. 

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And it goes nicely with sticky rice =)

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Overall, if we want a meal which will taste good and ensure that we leave satisfied and full then this is the place to go. The other good thing is that it’s situated in Northenden so no parking charges. 

Atmosphere: 2/5

Food: 3/5

Value: 4/5

Service: 3/5 - can be slow when its busy

Toilets: 2/5

Dalat Thai and Vietnamese Restaurant, 401 Palatine Road, Northenden

It’s closed on Sunday and opens till 22.30 all other nights

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Hey guys

I’m really sorry for the lack of posts in recent times. I’ve been inundated with revision, revision and more revision. But exams are over now so it’s time to get back to the work of the food ninjas. Although I was meant to be revising I did however, find time to feed my food ninja tummy. As you may have heard through the grapevine there’s a new Korean restaurant in town and what better place to open one but the Trafford Centre. I was so excited about this new place because a) it’s closer and more convenient for me to get to b) free parking which is an issue challenging many of the city centre restaurants. 

So on one Friday night, myself and two friends (Jensen and James) went to visit this new restaurant. It’s located on the upper level next to the Yang Sing - Cathay Dim Sum, opposite the RICE bar and grill. There’s a billboard outside with pictures of the food they offer. I was starving so we were shown to our table quickly. The first thing I noticed is that we were put on a table in the middle of the restaurant on canteen plastic style chairs. The restaurant is CONNECTED to the dim sum restaurant so really it all feels like one big restaurant. They even share the same kitchen and toilets. The second thing I noticed is that everyone else around me was eating either crispy duck or something from the CHINESE side of the restaurant. Hmmm.. doubts are beginning to be planted in my small mind.

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The menu is somewhat mismatched - I think the restaurant is marked it as Japanese and Korean - which is a bit of a mystery to me because in my head they are two different countries. We decided to order a mix of stuff. For starters, we ordered a kimchi pancake… 

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This kimchi pancake, looks like a pancake but tasted bland. It lacked flavour and felt greasy and saturated with fat. Another cross in the box. We also ordered some spring onions wrapped in beef (I forget the name, sorry). The beef was so dry and tasteless. Another thumbs down from me. 

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At this point, I was barely optimistic about my mains. I looked around the restaurant and the more I looked the more I realised I was just sat in a Chinese restaurant. I ordered shabu shabu beef and the worst thing about this is that the meat came… FROZEN. And being me, of course, said this quite loud when the dish arrived. The waiter heard me, looked at me and laughed. Even the staff here know the food is hardly authentic…. that says a lot!!!

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The waiter was kind of enough to cook it for us though… 

Jensen and James ordered a bi bim bap and some soba noodles. 

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Neither of which tasted authentic or nice for that matter. 

I was so disappointed with this place and to top it all of, it cost us around £50 for 3 main courses and 2 starters. This is a FOOD NINJA NO! I most definitely will not be returning to this place again. There are better places to eat in Trafford Centre which are better value for money and taste better.

If you’re looking for an authentic Korean/Japanese restaurant this is not the place to go. I was so dissatisfied I went home to cook myself some won ton noodles!

Atmosphere: 1/5

Food: 0/5

Value: 1/5

Service: 3/5

Toilets: 3/5

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Hi guys, sorry it’s been a while since I’ve had an update. I’ve been busy with life, work and a short break to Italy for some ski! =)

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So last week, Malaysian Food Ninja Ming took me to Smoak. A restaurant inside the Malmaison and let me tell you we were not disappointed. I like the way this place is decorated. It wasn’t too busy and over crowded for a Saturday night which made service quick and easy. We were seen to quickly when we arrived and shown to our table which we had pre-booked. There is an option to sit by the grill and watch the local food chef do his magic. 

Can you see that blur? That’s the chef =)

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Malaysian Food Ninja Ming ordered some weird drink that was called Smoak stack. It came in a jar and when you opened it smoke came out.. it was fun to watch.. but didn’t taste so good. It was £9 too so if you’re strapped for cash I don’t recommend ordering this.

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For starters, we ordered salmon fishcake and beef tartare. Two of my absolute favourites.

The salmon fishcakes were yummy - they were just the right about of crispiness on the outside and the filling didn’t taste dry either. It came with a sweet chilli dip which comes in this cute little bottle. I wish I could have taken the bottle home…

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Now for the beef tartare - for those of you who don’t know what beef tartare is; it’s a dish that’s made from finely chopped minced raw beef. It’s often served with onions and spices. My favourite is the Korean adaptation called yukhoe - but I think that normally comes in strips. When we ordered this our waitress asked if how spicy we would like it - we went for mild.

It tasted okay - I wouldn’t order it again. It had some weird pickles or something in it and the beef was so fine I could hardly taste it. Perhaps I’m just too much of a carnivore.

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On to the mains, Malaysian Ninja Ming chose a burger (as usual) and me being in a Grill and a lover of steak went for a medium rare ribeye steak.

The burger came with chips - which let me tell you are the best chips I’ve had for a while. I think this place prides their chips on being oak smoked. Unfortunately, my steak didn’t come with chips but they made them by mistake so we got an extra portion on the house. And being Chinese, we doesn’t love a freebie? (I think it even makes it taste better!)

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The chips, like I said, are the best chips I’ve had for a while. They were crunchy and didn’t feel oversaturated with fat. I was stuffed but managed to stuff every single last chip into my very elastic waistline.

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I think the burger was a little on the dry side but this place gets full marks for presentation of food. It’s a lot better than some of the other burgers we’ve tried in recent places, so for £14 it’s not bad.

Here comes my steak

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It comes with a sauce of your choice and naturally I went for peppercorn. You don’t get anything with the steak but there are a large number of sides you can order to accompany your meal. I asked for it to be cooked medium rare… let’s see how they did….

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And for me this is PERFECT. The steaks are locally sourced I think and are super fresh you can even see them picking up your steak from the window before they cook it. This is definitely the best steak I’ve had for a while. The meat was so tasty and marinated to perfection.

I was so stuffed from the first two courses I didn’t get to try dessert. :( Maybe next time?

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See…… to the right of the Grill you can see the chefs picking up your ordered steak to grill! 

Overall, I really liked this place from the furnishing to the food and I’ll probably go back but in these times of austerity it’s not going to be a weekly hang out for me and my food ninjas. The total for the two of us came to £75. These included one alcohol drink each, two starters, burger and a steak. The steak on it’s own was £28 so be prepared to be paying out when you visit.

Atmosphere: 4/5

Food: 4/5

Value: 2/5

Service: 4/5

I’ve also decided to rate the toilets of these places I visit now since I can’t stand a place with dirty toilets - really puts me off my food.

Toilets: 5/5 - comes with Molten Brown handwash and soap with cool taps and sinks

www.smoak-grill.com

Malmaison Manchester, Piccadilly

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