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Sakura season comes to Manchester as Australasia launches Hanami sharing menu

Manchester's renowned Pan-Asian restaurant Australasia has unveiled a new sharing menu, inspired by Japan's annual cherry blossom festival, Hanami.

Set in the subterranean shadows of the John Rylands Library, the stylish and spacious Australasia is a pleasant space to enjoy your food away from the hustle and bustle of the City above.

And they have just launched an exciting new Hanami Sharing menu, taking inspiration from Japan.

Hanami is the traditional Japanese custom of enjoying the beauty of cherry blossoms, or sakura, which bloom throughout Japan in the spring. Hanami literally means “flower viewing,” and it’s a popular pastime in Japan, where people gather in parks and other public spaces to have picnics, drink sake or beer, and admire the blossoms.

From the first wave to the last, this new menu delivers on both taste and presentation.

This menu is priced at £55 per person, with a minimum order of two people.

Our first wave of dishes included the Sakuru Sushi Selection, which featured a variety of sushi rolls and nigiri.

The Chicken tempura California roll was crispy and bursting with flavour, with the oyster mayonnaise and togarashi added a delightful tang and spice to the dish.

Next up was the Sea bass nigiri with lime, ginger, and lemon balm. It was fresh and perfectly seasoned – absolutely delicious.

The selection also included prawn and avocado California roll – harbouring a refreshing combination of flavours, and the pickled daikon added a zingy twist.

The highlight of the wave was undoubtedly the Salmon tataki, which was cured in Roku Gin Botanicals.

Green tea, sansho pepper, yuzu, mirin and soy marinade created a complex and unforgettable flavour. The dish was a perfect blend of sweet, spicy, and savoury notes.

Next up, we were presented with the Signature Selection.

The Pan roasted duck breast was cooked to perfection, and the sweet potato and confit duck bon bon were a match made in heaven.

The mandarin purée added a sweet and tangy twist that complemented the rich duck meat perfectly. The Roast potato scallops were a surprising and creative vegetarian option. The garlic and rosemary salt brought out the natural flavour of the potato, and the dish was finished with a touch of oyster sauce. The Bok choy, cooked in the same sauce, was a simple but satisfying side dish.

Finally, we indulged in the Sweet Selection.

The Cherry blossom and Caramelia chocolate mousse was a beautiful and delicate dessert that was almost too pretty to eat. The black cherry added a tartness that cut through the richness of the chocolate, and the dessert was the perfect end to our meal.

To accompany our meal, we ordered the Hanami Blossom Cocktails.

I opted for the Baby Blossom, which featured Roku Japanese Gin, creme de violette, orgeat syrup, lemon, and pineapple juice. The cocktail was floral and sweet, and the citrus notes added a refreshing touch.

My dining companion went for the Tokiyo Alex, which was made with Toki Japanese Whisky, Martell VS, creme de cacao, chocolate liqueur, and vanilla extract. The cocktail was rich and indulgent, with a hint of smokiness from the whisky.

No meal at Australasia is complete without trying their sake. We opted for the Akashi Tai Honjozo, a full-bodied sake with a smooth and clean finish.

Overall, our dining experience at Australasia was delightful. The service was friendly and attentive, and the dishes were beautifully presented and full of flavour.

The Hanami Blossom sharing menu was the perfect way for us to try a variety of dishes and explore the diverse flavours of the Pacific Rim.

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