Chorlton’s new neighbourhood Japanese restaurant that’s ‘almost like home’

Yane is the real deal

By Ben Arnold | Last updated 21 December 2023

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As a materials engineer, Duncan Yung was a bit wasted, though as far as the alchemy of cooking goes, perhaps knowing how the elements work together have stood him in good stead.

Because his cooking is a kind of magical alchemy. He retrained some years back, and after working in a few corporate hospitality environments, including a couple of chains you may have heard of, he realised his calling was a bit more at the homely end of things.

With wife Lisa – both their parents ran restaurants too, so it’s in the blood – they launched Yane, pronounced ‘yah-nay’, a delivery service run from a dark kitchen back in 2021, which was a huge hit. 

People would arrive from around the city to try and eat there, only to be told that they couldn’t. So the next stage of the business was kind of screaming at them.


Now, after a lengthy search (‘a hell of a journey’, in fact) which has taken in the length and breadth of Greater Manchester, they’ve found the home they wanted – ‘yane’ means ‘roof’ – in Chorlton.

“We’ve gone for a ‘ryokan’ kind of a look,” he told Manchester’s Finest last week, showing off his new premises. “The best way to describe it is it’s kind of like an old style Japanese manor house, they use old style techniques in building, timber frame, but it’s kind of a mish mash.

“The front of the restaurant is kind-of Toyko, Osaka-inspired, an open izakaya [an informal bar] kind of thing, and at the back it’s more like a ryokan with private rooms.”

Duncan reckons that we’ve been sold the wrong idea about Japanese food. Basically, your average family meal in Japan doesn’t involve a bone broth simmered over 14 hours for ramen.

“96% of Japanese people eat rice, very few eat noodle dishes,” he says. “It’s a misrepresentation that ramen is Japan’s comfort food. What you would make at home, you wouldn’t have mums and dads spending 18 hours making broths. They have rice, here’s a topping, and that’s the go-to.”

He’s also mindful that, for the majority of people, Japanese food means Wagamama. “They make no claim to be Japanese, but still that’s become the benchmark for a lot of people’s Japanese experience,” he says. 

“Japanese dishes are pigeonholed, sushi and ramen, where that accounts for maybe five percent of the entire cuisine. 

“There are so many different styles – ‘kaiseki’ style, where you have course after course of tiny dishes, classic home cooking, called ichiju sansai, where you have three dishes and a soup.

“I want this place to be a proper representation of Japanese food culture, on the back of donburi and kare (Japanese style curry) dishes, and bring those real Japanese flavours in. We had friends come in and try so many versions,” he said.


As such, Duncan does everything from scratch – he makes all his own umami-rich dashi, a golden stock using kombu seaweed and dried mushrooms, soaked overnight, as well as the curry sauces and other seasonings.

The pickles are all done in house too – carved into the shape of a serpent, just to go the extra mile.

Artist Junko Popham, who practises the art of Ikebana – Japanese flower arranging – and who is an adopted Manc, loves it here.

“She’s a long-time friend,” Duncan says, beaming with pride. “She said she’s not had flavours like this since she’s been in Tokyo.

“For me, that’s the best compliment anyone could have given me.”

Yane is open Wednesday to Sunday, from lunchtime Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and 4pm Wednesday and Thursday.

516 Wilbraham Rd, Chorlton, Manchester M21 9AW