Waku Waku

Stunning, hand-drawn cafe inspired by 2D restaurants in Asia offering Japanese cuisine, aesthetic coffees and unique cakes

Waku Waku
54 Portland St, Manchester M1 4QU

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 12-10pm
Wednesday: 12-10pm
Thursday: 12-10pm
Friday: 12-10pm
Saturday: 12-10pm
Sunday: 12-10pm

When is a restaurant a genuine work of art? How about when the walls and ceiling have been handed over to a talented artist, who then recreates the ‘2D eateries’ of places like Taiwan, South Korea and Japan? That’s the idea behind Waku Waku, a dining spot smack bang in the centre of Manchester, a few minutes from Chinatown’s iconic archway, which can rightly lay claim to having the most unique interior design in the city. Set up by owner Chris Lui, who moved to our hometown in 2021 from Hong Kong, it took this aesthetically-driven entrepreneur four months to draw the inside of his place by hand, often working well into the early hours of the morning. 

To say the results are worth all that effort would be an understatement. Waku Waku — which means ‘thrilling’ or ‘exciting’ in Japanese — is like stepping into the video to A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me’, only with a far superior sense of humour. Monochrome sketches cover every inch of the place, including a rendering go The Last Supper with cats in sunglasses playing apostles, a 2D take on The Scream, Edvard Munch’s traumatic masterpiece, and Johannes Vermeer’s The Girl With The Pearl Earring, which also features a feline (we sense there’s a theme here). 

With so much to take in it’s almost possible to forget you came here for food, but to do so would be a crime. Waku Waku’s kitchen is just as impressive as it decor, with a focus on flavours of the Far East, and particular Japanese cuisine. So think first class sushi, Signature Omurice, and more. Desserts are also big here, and include more traditional British cakes alongside statement pieces like the Matcha Polka Dot Swiss Roll. However, the coffees and drinks might be the biggest highlight — when you’re presented with a pistachio cappuccino complete with bear head made from foam you know it’s going to be a good day.