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I admit that we are very lucky that we get to eat out fairly regularly, BUT I’ve always thought that there is a dearth of decent places to eat in and around Leigh. Don’t get me wrong there are lots of places to eat in Leigh but for me the quality just isn’t there and I don’t see the point in paying good money for food which I could be doing better at home.
So we end up tootling into Manchester, and that’s fine, but sometimes it would be nice to be able to walk to somewhere other than Frankie and Benny’s.
So I was quite excited a few weeks ago when a sign appeared in a closed down Chinese restaurant saying it was reopening as a Japanese joint. This, my friends, is progress so off we trotted on the opening night to give it a whirl.
The interior is reminiscent of a student house- all bright orange walls, ceiling tiles and spotlights. No prizes there, but at least it was fresh and the bouncy carpet was obviously new.
It was also quite busy – ¾ full the whole time we were there. Service was shaky in terms of getting the food out but it was the first night so I am prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. One of our sushi starters only came out after the main courses, but the staff apologised and comped it so it was no big deal. Unfortunately the couple at the table next to us were only getting their main courses as we were leaving and they had ordered when we arrived so I’m not sure they would be as forgiving. The two ladies waiting on were really friendly and helpful (and apologetic) and hopefully now a couple of weeks in things like this should be running more smoothly.
I don’t know a lot about Japanese food but the menu looked similar to other Japanese places I’ve eaten at in the past.
The highlight of the meal was some mackerel sushi. The fish was lovely and fresh and full of flavour. Chicken gyoza were fried rather than steamed but had a lovely crunch, tender meat and subtle flavour. The starter which came out late was grilled squid with a salt and something else (lime maybe? Sorry it was a week ago!) dressing. This was disappointing. The squid was cut thick and over cooked so was very chewy.
Before going I was a bit worried about the quality of the sushi, wondering if it would be buffet style and sat out for ages. I did a little squeak of happiness when I saw a chap stood out front (behind what I guess is their sushi bar) making the sushi to order. A nice touch to have him out front as it shows Japanese-newbies like me just what goes into making a sushi roll and reassures everyone that they are getting super fresh food.
So on to the mains. Andrew had salmon teriyaki which he described as ‘steady’. I didn’t try the fish but it came with miso soup, rice (both rather nice) and (ridiculously) a piece of broccoli and a couple of chunks of carrot. They had no place on that plate at all!
I had chefs special yaki udon noodles which is the Japanese equivalent of special fried rice. To be fair, the beef, chicken and prawns in there were very nice and the noodles were well cooked. I like udon noodles because a) I can just about manage to get them on a chop stick (although I ended up giving up on that front) and b) they are good and filling.
A couple of Japanese beers later and we left full, and on the whole happy with our experience.
In hindsight, we both said that we should have stuck to the sushi and sashimi as the sushi we tried was excellent and someone we know was sat by us having the sashimi platter and sung its praises as well. They also do bento boxes which would be good for a lunchtime treat.
We’re not talking fine dining, award winning food here but I really think that it can be a great addition to the food offering in our town, and we are well overdue something new and a bit exciting here in Leigh.
I’ll be going back again for sure, there is some crab sushi with my name on it.
Oh and in other news, the restaurant next door to Koi is also reopening soon as a byo bistro called Smiths. The people behind this one own a little bistro in Lowton/Golborne which has been going for a few years. The menu is posted in the window and they open at the end of this month. Ooh, and someone says we’re getting an American style diner. So watch this space- there may be a food revolution happening on my doorstep!
2 Leigh Road, Leigh. WN7 1QL (no website)