This post should really start back in 2015, when an interest in The Great British Menu turned into intriguing watching in the form of one ‘Hair Metal Chef’ representing the North East. The level of creativity and imagination that went into Michael O’Hare’s dishes was nothing short of awesome, and I knew full well that a visit to his restaurant – The Man Behind the Curtain would be on the cards. Needless to say it is still there…and based on this visit, I can assure you it will not be going away! However, I soon realised that after capturing his first Michelin Star in 2015 it was going to be a little more difficult to get that sought after reservation. Consequently, as you can imagine when I heard he had opened another restaurant in Manchester…I was in there like a shot.
Named after a Japanese fairytale, The Rabbit in the Moon is a venture from the team at The Man Behind the Curtain, but with a focus on East Asian cuisine. Headed up by Chef Luke Cockerill, and still only age 21 (I can say ‘only’…I’m getting on a bit now) this Chef is clearly passionate and going somewhere, based on this truly unique dining experience.
Described as ‘Space Age Asian’, I really didn’t have too much of a clue what to expect from The Rabbit in the Moon. I had caught the odd tweet of quite frankly awe-inspiring dishes, but to be fair nothing could have prepared me for this restaurant. Located in the Urbis Building (also housing the National Football Museum), you enter via a single door, into the start of what I can only describe as a ‘culinary adventure’.
A warm welcome, and a glass of complimentary Sake in hand, we were escorted to a lift. Transported six floors up (but to be fair it could have been a completely other world) we were again greeted and shown into a modern and ‘space age’ type bar area/floor. It’s at this point that everything started to get a little hazy as quite frankly there was so much to take in, and I went into sensory overload – either that or the cocktails of
G & T | Bastardised gin, strawberry tonic, wasabi absinthe
Apple Wine | Salted caramel apple, sesame and sparkling wine
kicked in very quickly! While the wine was too sweet for my tastebuds, I will say that the G & T was inspired and if it hadn’t been quite as pricey (£12) I would have been downing them all night!
Being my natural nosy self, it is very evident that the attention to detail is one of the key factors at The Rabbit in the Moon; from the interiors including books on Japanese culture and the Phaidons city guide to Tokyo, amazing rabbit graffiti artwork and black toilet roll (I am being serious here!) to what I would say carefully selected staff – some fantastic tattoos going on and I loved the uniformed aprons!
After about 15 minutes we were back up on our feet and being escorted downstairs to the dining area – seating approximately 30 it was well laid out, and that combined with carefully positioned mirrors, made the space feel open and airy. A good thing, because as views go on a 5th floor it’s a little limited (ok you’re trying to look through almost opaque glass). Having read a few reviews before I went, this comes up regularly and the lack of natural light. However, it was a beautiful sunny day when we went and this really helped, but it would have added to the experience to see the sunset (look at me being all romantic…yeah right!)
Ok enough of all of this, on to the main attraction…the menu. It’s 17 courses (have I got your attention?). Priced at £75 per person, it is a tad on the expensive side especially when the majority of the courses are eaten with your hands (I think I used the allotted chopsticks once), and most can be devoured within two bites. However, I can honestly say for the experience received, it was worth every penny or pound!
Crispy Rabbit Ears
Kumamoto oyster and pickled ginger
Raw beef truffle nigiri
(it was at this point I went into ‘smug mode’ for choosing a really great restaurant)
Toro melt and salmon skin Inari
Pain au unagi and Kimchi duck broth
(my favourite dish – the Kimchi duck broth was to die for, smooth and salty)
Char siu octopus hot dog
(my second favourite dish – well it is The Octopus Diaries after all!)
Razor clam udon
Chinese bacon butty
(l had evidently lost the plot by this time, my notes apparently say this tasted like a pork version of a BK chilli cheese burger but 100% better – ha ha!)
Duck nigiri and Japanese pancake
Electric lime leaf
(my least favourite course, not quite sure on this one – acted like a palate cleanser)
Plum sake, Moon cake, Thai watermelon and Plum stone
(by this point we were running a little tight on time, so the front of house team kindly brought these all out together – that plum stone was simply inspired!)
( I loved how this was presented – a perfect finale)
- I honestly would like to applaud the Chefs but also the Front of House team. Every single course was explained in minute detail, and a real passion for the concept was presented by all. If I have to provide any constructive criticism, service could have just been a little more personable, for example asking where we had come from, how we had heard about the restaurant, etc – but to be fair I am nitpicking!
- I loved the ambience of the restaurant and I have to say inspired soundtrack completely in keeping with the experience – ‘Intergalatic’ by the Beastie Boys and ‘Clubbed to Death’ from The Matrix Soundtrack…fanbloodytastic!
- The attention to detail was beyond, from the interiors to the staff uniform, to the plating.
Would I go again?
What I will say is that the menu is more Asian influence than actual Asian cuisine, however it is explained on the website as being stripped back of all tradition and authenticity, so you know what you’re getting! Ok scrap that bit…you have no idea what you are getting but needless to say I am now the No. 1 fan of Space Age Asian cuisine; and if I have the chance I will be back in that car for three and a half hours again. Road trip…woo hoo!
I have also since read that Michael O’Hare is planning to open up another two restaurants in Manchester with GG Hospitality – Are Friends Electric and The Man Who Fell To Earth – s*** am going to be skint!
Would I recommend The Rabbit in the Moon?
This restaurant was created for me, I seriously swear they must have had me in mind when they decided on their concept and dishes, so yes I am always going to recommend going there. Nevertheless, while I will always rave about the dining experience, I am guessing it may not be quite to everyone’s taste. Do your research and go completely open minded, and I promise you will not be disappointed!
Address | Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Todd Street, City Centre, Manchester M4 3BG
Telephone | 0161 804 8560