Retail Design Expo
Retail Design Expo

The renovation of the former Chicago Rock Café on Peter Street, in Manchester, into an impressive pan-Asian restaurant-bar has progressed well and opened in October.

The building was previously a theatre in the Victorian era and is the latest venture of the renowned Chi Yip family.

The venue will serve an array of Japanese dishes in the ground floor restaurant and a plethora of relaxed pan Asian cuisine in the fine dining space on the first floor. The concept for Sakana Pan Asian came from the YIP family, owned by Stuart Yip, who also owns the Red Chilli, Ocean Treasure, K2 Karaoke, Chi Yip supermarkets. The four directors of Sakana Pan Asian are Andy Chi, Ricky Chi, Simon Chi and Tim Chi.

Construction works began in April 2014 and the project has seen main contractors Form Contractors Ltd and Lee Architects work alongside Rockstar Leisure and the Yip family to bring this scheme to life. Premier Hospitality caught up with Dan Robinson, from Rockstar Leisure, to find out what this venue brings to Manchester:

“Sakana is the first time pan Asian cuisine has been done in one restaurant in Manchester; there is nowhere, apart from London, you can find this concept. We think the timing is right to introduce this type of cuisine to Manchester as it has gone down really well.

“The food offer at Sakana Pan Asian is very different to the Yip family’s current offers as it caters for everyone. Guests can come in and have a drink, have a meal downstairs or just a snack; however they can also come upstairs to the fine dine area and enjoy a bottle of Petrus at the bar.”

The 6000 square foot venue comprises a large smoking area which leads into the ground floor bar space. Sliding doors have been installed across the front of the building, creating a feeling of spaciousness, and also facilitating space for more diners and drinkers in the summer months.

The ground floor has been split into two sections; the front bar and the main restaurant area. A purpose built bar has been constructed in the front bar which features a transparent back bar offering views of the open kitchen and main restaurant space.

After having a few drinks guests can wander into the main restaurant and sample the delicious menu. Diners can watch their meals being prepared on the dramatic open kitchen comprising two Teppanyaki sections, a sushi counter and large Robatta grill. The open kitchen adds a sense of drama and excitement to he dining experience with diners being able to view the freshly made sushi as it is being prepared as well as the Japanese products being coloured and flavoured by the impressive Robbatta grill.

The 150 cover main restaurant is overlooked by an impressive willow tree feature which has been designed by Lee Architects and brought to life by Sarah Gallagher-Hayes from Twigtwisters Ltd. The feature towers over diners in the main restaurant and can be viewed from all of the venue’s bars and restaurants.

On the first floor an exclusive bar area and fine dine restaurant has been created for those wishing to sample relaxed pan-Asian cuisines in a formal environment. The upstairs bar serves an array of up-market cocktails, wines and liquors; the bar itself, nicknamed the Stealth Bar, comprises large mirrors and bottle holders adding to the drama of the space. Glass shelving has also been installed on the first floor to add a feeling of spaciousness.

Around the corner diners will find an exclusive dining room serving pan Asian cuisine for high profile people wanting to dine in a private space. The fine dining area seats up to 100 people and offers diners a menu comprising six starters, seven mains and six desserts; both menus at Sakana will change seasonally offering diners an ever evolving selection of dishes to enjoy. The kitchen on the first floor is huge and spans the back wall of the building.

The venue’s white colour scheme throughout the venue acts as a backdrop to the food and ethnic art work. Project architect Ming Lee said:

“We didn’t want to overdo the interior design and take away from the food; the food is very much the focus of this venue. The kitchen is located where the stage used to be and so diners can enjoy the sights and smells of the kitchen akin to how theatre goers used to enjoy the acting.

“Art pieces from cultural artists have been dotted throughout the venue located on the walls and in the recesses of Sakana. There will be auctions of these pieces so diners have the chance to purchase pieces they love. The art pieces will also change seasonally like the menu.”

The building has been designed to be very user friendly as previously it used to comprise an array of varying levels. Now the space contains facilities for those in wheelchairs or with mobility issues so that they can dine at Sakana as easily as other diners.
Twigtwisters Ltd

Sarah Gallagher-Hayes, owner of Twigtwisters Ltd, trained in sculpture at Southampton University and the world famous Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice. She began to work with metal rod transforming her figurative 2D drawings into 3D forms by using each rod of steel like a pencil line. The metal rod had a fluidity to it allowing her to twist, bend and and rework into whatever shape she desired.

As Sarah’s work developed she also began to use willow, a material that allowed her to work in the same style but gave a more natural finish. Some of the willow sculptures were sometimes planted to produce living sculptures. Sarah’s work has always been based on natural forms, the human figure and her favourite animals.

Upon graduating Sarah’s career was kick started when she won her first commission from Kew Gardens to build a willow lion to represent Aslan in their “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” themed exhibition. At this point the metal work took a back seat as she became known for her individual style of working in such a versatile material.

To date, Sarah has produced sculptures for an array of clients including English Heritage, The National trust and numerous county councils. Over the past three years Sarah has built sculpture gardens for the RHS Tatton flower show and Chelsea flower show.

Over the last year there has been an increased demand for sculptures with more of an industrial feel which has steered Sarah back to the material she began working with steel.

The metal tree at Sakana Manchester is her largest metal commission to date. The tree is based on a Japanese Maple and stands 6 metres in height.

In the Forth coming year Sarah will be show casing her work in five large scale exhibitions at Chester Cathedral, RHS Garden Wisley, Chelsea flower show, Hampton Court and RHS Tatton.  For more information about Sarah please visit her websiteTwigtwisters.co.uk or her twitter and Facebook pages Twigtwisters.

Form Contractors (UK)

Form Contractors (UK) Limited are a fit-out specialist with expertise in interior solutions, shop fitting and construction for a variety of sectors including the Retail, Hospitality & Leisure, Commercial, Financial, Education and Private Sectors. Formed two years ago, the firm offers specially tailored services to meet client’s requirements as well as effective project management skills to ensure that client expectations of quality, program and budgets are met.

Currently Form are acting as the main contractors and project managers on the development of Sakana Pan Asian; Rockstar Leisure’s most recent venture. We caught up with Chris Hamlett, Managing Director of Form, to find out what it meant for the company to be involved in this project. Chris said:

“The Yip Group is renowned within the hospitality industry and so to be part of this project makes us very proud. We are a relatively young company, at just two years old, and so it is a real achievement for us and we hope to be involved in more of their schemes in the future.

“We want to complete this project successfully and achieve the standard and quality the client’s desire; and we are confident we have done well. This scheme has been a challenge; however it has been great to develop a scheme of this nature despite encountering some major complications. The clients have worked with us closely which is great.”

Form are the principal contractors on the scheme, having won the tendering process for the project, and also are managing the sites subcontractors. One of the firm’s skills is that of value engineering; this involves achieving value for money for the client whilst maintaining the quality and standard initially requested. Chris said value engineering is something he is particularly strong at; sourcing and using lesser known products which are of the same quality but less in price. As the hospitality industry is cost driven Chris feels Form can offer a much needed value-for-money service.

Ming Lee, Managing Director of Lee Architects and Director of Form Contractors Ltd said:

“Delivery, design and operating within budget and programme are the backbones of Form.”

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