There are only a few restaurants in Manchester that I look forward going back to and Australasia is definitely high up on that list. Accessed via a glass pyramid near the John Rylands library on Deansgate, this Asian themed restaurant accessed is one of my favourite eating joints around. My friends Jake and Florence were up from London for the weekend – reason enough to warrant a trip to Australasia.
I am not usually a fan of bars at restaurants as they tend to be an ‘add-on’ and cramped in a corner but the bar at Australasia is quite spacious and I absolutely love the cocktails on offer. The bar is especially lively on Friday and Saturday nights and is open till 3am and they even have guest DJs who tend to play some good tunes! We had a table booked for 12.30 pm on a Saturday so the bar was empty and we even got a booth – trust me this doesn’t happen often at Australasia. Try the ‘Hibiscus Martini’ and the ‘Love You Long Time’ – my personal favourites.
After a few cocktails (which went down a treat) we decided it was time to try some of the food on offer. We were seated in a secluded booth away from the main dining area which was really nice. We even had a chilled bottle of Seb’s favourite champagne Perrier-Jouet waiting for us at our table. Not a bad start at all!
The menu is extensive and although you can share a few small plates and get a main, I would definitely recommend sharing a few small plates – this way you can try out a lot more food instead of committing to one main. We started with a mix platter of the Cornish oysters and they were delicious especially the Soy pearl oysters. The Soy pearls are so delicate and go wonderfully with the earthy flavours of the natural oysters.
Another small plate that really stood out for me was the scallops sashimi – they were beautifully presented and were absolutely divine. Tastes even better with a sip of sake. Australasia has a good collection of some good sake – we tried the Honjozo which at 15% ABV was one of the cheaper ones but goes really well with the food on offer.
One of my favourite dishes which I always tend to order is the Squid and Fresh Lime Tempura. I absolutely love squid and this tempura dish is so simple yet so tasty. You could easily order a few plates of this dish and still eat some more.
The only dish that didn’t really live up to our expectation was the hand dived scallop ceviche with tiger’s milk – it looked absolutely amazing, served in a fish bowl decorated with seaweed but it just didn’t live up to the hype unfortunately. Even though the ingredients were all fresh and complemented each other, it just missed that wow factor.
I think we might have ordered a few too many small plates. By the end of the meal, we had tried oysters, squid, crab, scallops, beef, chicken, pork and even a plate of foie gras (goose)!! Oops! Still not reason enough to turn down a cheeky dessert though.
We decided to share the mango soufflé with coconut ice cream and mango soup and a mixed sweet sushi. There is a 2o minute wait for the mango soufflé but its well worth the wait – it’s unbelievably light and the mango soup and the coconut ice cream are a match made in Heaven.
Unfortunately the mixed sweet sushi wasn’t my favourite dessert but its quite a unique take on Japanese sushi.
We decided to end our meal with some tea – I needed my tea after the 3 hour lunch to keep me awake and the flowering Osmanthus tea was just perfect. The green tea hand tied with sweet Osmanthus blossoms and orange lily petals was so pretty – I felt guilty drinking it because it looked so delicate.
After three and a half hours of amazingly good food (and a few too many drinks) we decided to call it a day and settle the bill. The service was impeccable as usual and the food was amazing. Yes, a few of the dishes weren’t to our taste, but they were still beautifully presented and is well worth a try. I would definitely recommend this Living Ventures restaurant if you want to celebrate a special occasion or if you want to impress somebody special.
Have you been to Australasia? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.