GB/UK’s first Japanese restaurant dedicated to comics
four months, black & white images & café
Thanks to a real-world optical illusion, the interior of the café is painted white, but every detail – from the walls and floor to the chairs and toilet – has been outlined in black pen to create a crazy pen-and-paper aesthetic that’s almost like looking at a page from an artist’s sketchbook. The owner of Waku Waku, Chris Lui (32) -who has no previous artistic experience,~ made the drawings himself over four months, often staying at the restaurant until the early hours of the morning. Lui, who is from Hong Kong, used to work in a bank before his family moved to Manchester.
The new space on Portland Street has been decorated with real-world furniture and fittings, while the backdrop of hand-drawn picture frames and window ledges is a collection of recognisable scenes from Mount Fuji to London Bridge. At the same time, Waku Waku also offers an aesthetic intervention with colourful culinary delights that contrast with its black and white surroundings. From donburi, a rice bowl, to signature dishes like omurice, an omelette of fried rice and thin scrambled eggs, to deep-fried pork chops and udon noodles, and sides like teriyaki squid, Lui has created a menu. As Chris explains, “As we’re a Japanese restaurant, I wanted to incorporate some Japanese elements into the design, but also set it in Manchester and the UK – so there are references to both throughout. “I wanted to champion Japanese cuisine in Manchester, such as raw fish and sushi. With the 2D concept, we can draw people in and then offer some amazing traditional Japanese dishes. Our head chef is also from Hong Kong and has 15 years’ experience in Japanese cuisine / cooking, and he has created some slightly different specialities, such as sushi with caramel.