Manchester's Chinatown is a slightly daunting place with restaurants, supermarkets and a hundred and one associated emporiums crammed in a few blocks of tall northern brickwork. Making a decision as to where to go can be pretty tough.
One of my favourites which I found pretty early on in my wanderings is Red N Hot an authentic Szechuan restaurant, tucked away up a flight of stairs on Faulkner Street. The restaurant has been refurbished recently and taken on a much more stylish appearance with it, before this it was pretty basic feeling but consistently packed with Chinese people tucking in to all manner of peculiar things. I've rarely seen many western faces in there, perhaps because the stairs and the fact that you can't see in from the street puts off the less intrepid visitors.
So how brave are you? A must is the hotpot - you are delivered a cauldron of boiling stock (normally divided into spicy and not-spicy segments) and a tray of raw ingredients which you cook yourself in the pot. The selection of fish, meat, noodles, veg, mushrooms and other bits can of course tailored to your dietary needs - though it's likely the stock isn't of purest vegetable origin... Chuck a few things in and fish them out when you're happy with how they're done. Take your time. They have recently replaced the gas burners and bottles in the tables which really hampered legroom, the new electric hotplates being way more sensible.
The regular dishes can be just as daring - fancy a plate of "Duck tongues" or "Pigs ears"? I tried them both at the same time which was a bit much. If you're in for a bit of a banquet they do a marvellous pork hock which is devilishly huge - the manager described it along the lines of "In Chinese families it's the dish we cook when the prodigal children come home from the big city".
Update: Apart from the upgraded tables (edited in above) they have also introduced ordering via laptop - which seems like a bit of a gimmick but somehow managed to deliver our starters phenomenally quickly. In combination with the hotplates I suspect we may find that the laptops have nice melty edges after a while...
It's all just one big restau-rant...
- ► 2009 (12)
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