Nowadays, aesthetics play a vital part in drawing people to restaurants. We’ve had the stripped back Scandi vibe, the outrageous neon pink Barbie fantasy and now, a truly unique hand drawn cartoon concept at new Portland Street restaurant Waku Waku.
The Japanese restaurant is owned by Chris Lui who has called Manchester home for the past two years. He has spent the last four months creating his masterpiece, which, on first glance, is a disorientating optical illusion as the tables and chairs blend seamlessly into the walls, making you the star of your own comic book story.
Once you find your way to a seat, you’ll soon begin to notice the true artistry and magic of Waku Waku. It's complete with intricate cartoon drawings of Chris’ take on The Last Supper (complete with a table of cats), The Scream and Girl with the Pearl Earring, as well as hand drawn furniture such as stacked bookshelves and picture frames.
It takes inspiration from the YND239-20 café concept that started in South Korea. Originating around five years ago, the style blew up on social media and has been attracting crowds that are eager to experience the mind bending 2D aesthetics ever since. Waku Waku is the UK’s first step into this surreal dining concept.
“My wife loves 2D cafes that are popular in countries like Japan, Korea and Taiwan and she said we should bring the concept to the UK as she thought people here would like it,” explained Chris. “The concept is very unique and we only use black and white lines to create the restaurant look. As we’re a Japanese restaurant I wanted to put some Japanese elements into the design but also place the design in Manchester and the UK - so there are nods to both throughout.”
The food at Waku Waku doesn’t disappoint either. There’s sushi, sashimi, noodles, curries, soups and Japanese fried chicken all on the menu, alongside speciality Japanese drinks such as the Mount Fuji float that comes with a scoop of ice cream. Diners can also enjoy a colourful dessert menu of sweet coffees and teas like the rainbow latte, crème brulee latte and shakerato.
Waku Waku is open Tuesday – Sunday from 12-10pm.