Food profile - Australasia, Manchester

Mango Rice Pudding

Mango Rice Pudding - Credit: Archant

We test the new menu for spring at Australasia

Just very occasionally, I throw all my good intentions out of the window and arrange to have lunch with a friend, where the opportunity to stuff myself full of empty calories is a given. My recent experience of Australasia, with their irresistibly tempting new menu for spring, has shown that maybe I can enjoy fabulous food and not count the carb-cost afterwards.

I had avoided visiting for some while, under the (I now know erroneous) impression that Pacific Rim foods meant lots of fish and seafood, which doesn’t suit me at all. What it actually means is a stress inducing selection of meat, fish and vegetarian options each so packed with flavour that a tour of the menu is enough to send one into a complete tizz. Luckily, the servers have seen this before and are well equipped to advise!

We chose a selection of six different small dishes all of which met my no fish rule and my friend Caroline’s ‘foods I have been told to avoid while pregnant’ rule. Easier than you might think, too.

Cream cheese and chilli California rolls (£6.50) delivered a smooth hit of heat, while the incredible Aubergine and avocado tempura parcels (£7) nearly caused a spat. I am still pretty sure I didn’t get my fair share of avocado, but it’s never wise to mess with a pregnant chick. The Szechuan Beef Fillet Skewers, from the Robata grill, were amazing; lean and tender, with a fabulous sweetly sticky sauce. We added a serving of BBQ Lamb Cutlets, also from the Robata grill, and I am incapable of picking a favourite, the lamb fell from the bone and was utterly yum. Also from the Robata came our final non-meat choice, Grilled Asparagus with Sweet Sesame Glaze; I shall definitely be extending my own asparagus repertoire come May, this was a brilliant balance of flavours. Our fifth choice came from the special lunch menu (two dishes for £12 / three for £16 or four for £21) - Roasted Duck Fuku with beansprouts. A sweet, squashy bun filled with sweet, squashy duck, beansprouts providing an excellent counterpoint to it all – this one I definitely recommend and next time, no sharing!

Having barely any fill-you-up carbs up till now left just the right amount of space for a pudding. A rare lunchtime treat. My Mango Rice Pudding with Lime Sorbet was light and fresh and fabulous, while Caroline’s Chocolate soufflé with raspberry sorbet and chocolate sauce barely touched the sides and not, I think, because she’s expecting.

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