I have always held a torch for Spinningfields dining haunt Australasia ever since it opened, years and years ago. When I think about somewhere classy and stylish to dine, with luxury drinks, a beautiful interior, and unique food, this one just jumps to my mind.
It’s been a while since I last visited, but as I’m asked on a daily basis on Instagram or email about my Manchester restaurant recommendations, I felt I needed to give an up-to-date review of this place.
Firstly, although it is situated amongst the glitz and glamour of Spinningfields with it’s slightly prestigious reputation. It’s not an intimidating place, and it’s not over budget, depending how to choose to dine (and depending what your budget is, but what I’m trying to say is that this place needn’t be silly expensive if you don’t let it). You can dine tapas style, and you don’t have to choose a £10 cocktail.
The menu is Japanese and Indonesian inspired, with a few nods to Thai. You’ll find a lot of meat and fish, where you might see a lot of people raving about the Black Cod Roasted in a Hoba Leaf dish. However, pan-asian fans don’t have to expect a fish heavy menu, as you’ll find vegetarian favourites, sushi, sashimi, grills, sharing platters and oysters feature regularly on the menus.
Upon my recent visit, myself and my partner were ordering from the ‘taste’ menu – waves of food which comes out in an array of tapas style dishes. Pan-asian style tapas? I’m sold. There isn’t enough quality restaurants in Manchester offering this style of menu, so straight away Australasia scores brownie points amongst it’s competitors.
The above menu photo (apologies, it is quite dark in Australasia) shows the Taste menu we ordered, which is the meat and fish version. The other Taste menu is the vegetarian one, which I was more leaning towards had my partner not been such a big meat eater.
This being said, I genuinely enjoy meat, so it wasn’t a problem – especially as the skewers ‘wave’ of food sounded utterly delicious.
To give an idea of what to expect, between two of you, you get four waves of courses, each made up of sharing plates. The first wave is featured around sushi and sashimi, the second is the meat and fish skewers, the third is your delicately presented chicken and seabass slices with pairing side dishes, followed by a dedicate dessert box and pouring sauce.
We also reluctantly ordered a pretty cocktail after our first ;wave’ came out, in which mine was a refreshing Prosecco and Raspberry Liqueur cocktail, super sweet and fizzy, just how I like it!
The sushi wave contained a selection of salmon nigiri, yellow fin tuna nigiri, Peking duck and spring onion Californian rolls, and asparagus, mango, pepper and watermelon Californian rolls. The duck rolls were my absolute favourite, although the use of mango stuffed into sushi rice rolls with fresh vegetables also made a very tasty combination – bit of a unique sushi nibble!
The second wave was a sizzling hot plate of Yakitora chicken, garlic king prawns and korean BBQ beef with a garnishing. A side plate of edamame beans with soy and sesame came as an addition.
If you enjoy meat and fish, you’ll love this serving as it literally lets you tuck into juicy prawns with a kick of garlic and mango and lime salt, followed by rich tangy BBQ beef and grilled tender chicken. It’s slightly meat/fish heavy for me, but I couldn’t fault the flavours and seasoning, and how each skewer was cooked perfectly. Real juicy and intense. Kind of reminds me of top quality meat and fish served up at a BBQ, where the meat gets a slight smokey, bbq finish.
The next wave was featuring a combination of meat and fish, however seemed a little more like a fine dining dish in terms of presentation and finishings. The chicken came in two parts, one as a chicken breast in a sesame miso, the other as a panko crumb leg, which was nice to experience two different types of chicken, both seasoned with a Japanese twist.
The seabass was especially delicious, grilled with chilli and coriander, and served up with mango and pomegrante. It was nice to have these cuts of meat and fish with the sweet potato and tenderstem broccoli, which made this wave seem more like a main course meal. Also a very healthy one too (apart from the panko crumb chicken maybe!).
Last but not least came the dessert wave, perfectly presented in this beautiful, delicate box. The portions of strawberry, lychee cheesecake with popcorn, kaffir lime creme brulee and chocolate dome with peanut, honeycomb and salted caramel come served with a warm sweet and creamy sauce to pour over the chocolate domes, in which the chocolate cracks and melts the chocolate into the delicious caramel and honeycomb.
A nice array of textures, with the creamy cheesecake and creme brulee being more light and fruity, in contrast with the rich peanut chocolate. Something for everyone’s taste here really! My favourite had to be the chocolate bomb, for no other reason than the fact I can’t get enough of sweet peanut butter flavours with chocolate!
The Taste menu costs £47.50 per person, in which you get four courses providing pleeeeeenty enough food – you’ll leave feeling incredibly full, I can vouch for that. It’s also one of the best ways to dine as a couple in my opinion, as you can try so many different tasters of food, sampled from the Australasia menu, simply piling up your plates with different options from each wave.
If you enjoy the nature of tapas and love trying out a mix of sushi, grilled meat and fish and indulgent desserts, each with a pan-asian twist, you can’t fault the Taste menu. I genuinely enjoyed every single offering and would totally recommend this for first time Australasia diners in particular!
You can check out the food and drink menus over at the Australasia website here.