Restaurant, bar, nightclub, art gallery - Sexy Fish is coming to Manchester… this is what you can expect

It's a lot...

By Ben Arnold | 8 September 2023

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At lunchtime on an oppressively hot day in London, former chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne shuffled along Berkeley Square looking like he’d slept on someone’s sofa. Shirt crumpled and its tail hanging out, crushed suit trousers bunching over a pair of knackered black trainers, possibly Vans, one can and perhaps must presume it was a heavy night.

The contrast is made all the more stark when he passes the doorman at Sexy Fish, the pan-Asian restaurant that opened on this most impressive of London’s grand Georgian squares in 2015. He is looking immaculate in a suit so packed with swirls of colour, it could give you motion sickness.

Inside too, the staff are a burst of colour, each wearing something different – ranging from functional work jackets to full on three-piece suits. It speaks to this place being unapologetically bougie, but also fun, and each outfit is adorned with a broach depicting a sea creature of some kind.

Sexy Fish

Kate Moss, Goldie Hawn, Ciara, Winnie Harlow, Lindsay Lohan, Tracey Emin and designer Matthew Williamson turned up for opening night, and Rita Ora sang.

It’s remained a rarified spot ever since, a popular celebrity hang out known for its brash design boasting sculptures by Damien Hirst and interior accents created by the legendary architect Frank Gehry.

In its basement, where there’s a private dining room, it boasts two of the largest coral reef tanks in the world. And behind the bar? The world’s most comprehensive collection of Japanese whiskeys, some from distilleries long closed, meaning when it’s gone, it’s truly gone forever.

Sexy Fish

You’ve probably got something of a steer on what the place is like. They’ll be opening their third branch next month in Manchester (it’s owned by the same group behind The Ivy Collection, J. Sheekey and Scott’s), in what was formerly the Armani shop in Spinningfields, following the Berkeley Square restaurant and another in Miami.

Finest had the good fortune this week to get a sneak preview of what might be in store.

When it comes to presentation, it’s all theatre. The ‘Sexy Fruits De Mer’ sashimi, nigiri and sushi platter (£44 per person) arrived in a giant silver clam shell, a glug of dry ice poured on as it landed at the table to complete the mood.

Sexy Fish

The finely crafted mouthfuls are scattered around almost architecturally (it’s so vast, weight distribution is probably an issue), with a hidden beef tartare with truffle here and a thick slab of high-grade, almost wagyu-style fatty tuna belly sashimi squirrelled away at the top.

The Lobster tempura (£43) was light and crisp, and came served in a silver sea creature, with claws and lobster heads poking out. The smoked marie rose and seasoned salt gave it a further tang of the sea.

Dishes arrived thick and fast – the crispy duck salad (£24), which one of the wildly skilled and knowledgable bar staff described vividly as ‘the tits’, was indeed ‘the tits’, a tangle of pea shoots with crisp shards of duck, and sweet chunks of watermelon and pips of pomegranate to cut through the fat.

A rack of lamb (£48) – yep, it’s not all about fish – was glazed in sticky goo (made from sweet red yuzu kosho and salty anchovy) and soft to the point of barely holding together at all. Don’t leave the bones, pick them up and gnaw on them.

It’s all unashamedly ‘upscale’, and will be bidding for that audience and for those looking for a push-the-boat-out occasion meal once it arrives. 

For example, one of its set ‘Omakase’ menus is simply called ‘Ludicrous’, comprising lobster, wagyu and premium sashimi, and will set you back £218 per person. A slab of A5 grade Japanese wagyu sirloin relieves diners of £120 before fries (they don’t sell fries).

But for that you’ll be getting things like Hirst artworks, Gehry light sconces, 200 Japanese whiskeys and what’s said to be the biggest selection of champagne in the UK. Not sure anywhere in Manchester will be offering quite the same.

Asked which dish was his favourite, chef director Bjoern Weissgerber had the look of having just been asked to choose a favourite child. “I love the lobster tempura,” he eventually managed. “But then sometimes I love the tuna belly, the oysters. But I hope that everything tastes good! Otherwise it wouldn’t be on the menu.”

Sexy Fish is due to open in the autumn.