Sample a healthy taste of Australian city life thanks to food haven Australasia, in the heart of Manchester, as visited by Top Santé’s editor, Katy Sunnassee.
During my first visit to Sydney in 2003 I delighted at being able to get sushi on almost every street corner (this long predated Itsu back home). I also recall being surprised at how much better they did fish and chips than we do here in the UK – far more choice of fish – and had my first taste of Barramundi, not from a fish and chip shop, mind, but from the Sky Tower restaurant that circles above the CBD.
So when I spied Barramundi on the menu at Australasia I had to pick it, if only for nostalgic reasons.
Fittingly, the restaurant actually is ‘down under’ – you enter it either via a glass prism-enclosed staircase on Spinningfields Square in the city centre, or down another staircase on the opposite of the building via the ground-level outdoor terrace where DJs spin tunes until 3am.
Since opening in 2011, Australasia has combined Pacific Rim flavours with European cooking traditions and Indonesian and Southeast Asian influences, both of which influence Australia’s diverse cuisine. Japanese food features prominently on the menu – sushi lovers will be in heaven with the long list of delicacies from Tasmanian kingfish sashimi to Blue prawn with avocado salsa and chilli jam tartare.
Going local or traditional
Select from two dining options: either ‘local’, where you select lots of small dishes tapas style and share, or with traditional starters and mains. Local signature dishes include seared pigeon with Thai cucumber and mango; black cod roasted in hoba leaf, which flakes off the fork; and cured salmon in a seed crust with mandarin and artichoke salad. From the Robata Grill – a Japanese-style charcoal grill – you can order popular Black tiger prawns; Beef fillet with sesame, sweet soy and red chilli; and BBQ lamb cutlets. Signature big plates include Chilean sea bass with prawns in coconut and Tom Yam broth, which went down a treat with two of our party; Pot-roasted lobster with kaffir lime, chilli and Thai basil; and a succulent Australian Wagyu fillet. But whatever you plump for, everything is delicate, intricate and well thought out.
A cheeky sweet treat
To finish, a must-try dessert is the Chocolate dome with peanut, salted caramel and blackberries – half of the delight is in watching the waitress pour liquid caramel/chocolate sauce over half of the dome, melting it to reveal the ingredients inside – very Australian Masterchef.
Fans of cocktails won’t be disappointed with an extensive list featuring twists on old classics, such as a Smokey Old Fashioned, High Tea Punch, and The Australasian Pornstar, which comes (no pun intended) with a shot of chardonnay. Extensive Champagne, wine, spirits, Asian inspired beers and infused water menus are also on offer.
So while the weather in Manchester may not rival that of Australia, a night at Australasia with flavoursome food, good company, an upbeat atmosphere and excellent service will most certainly brighten up your nightlife and have you boomeranging back for more.