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Northern Food

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  1. Went back to Dosa Express in Withington to try a dosa. A madras masala dosa was pleasant enough, the dosa was fairly light and crispy and the potato filling wasn't stodgy but was a touch bland. The accompanying chutney's and sambar were fresh and distinctively spiced. I couldn't resist a couple of mutton rolls on the side too. These were excellent. Crisp and greaseless with an intensely spiced (loads of chilli & black pepper) mutton and potato filling.
  2. Koreana is on my 'to do' list, sounds good so I'll have to get round to it at some point. On to the main reason for this post, I went to Middle Kingdom on Princess Street the other night. There is an extensive menu of Hunanese and Sichuan dishes (it doesn't say which are which), but there are also a few cantonese dishes that are probably best avoided as they're not really the focus here. Here's what we ate: Fried Dumplings Lamb Skewers Aubergine with the flavour of fish Duck on the bone with chillis and taro in chinese beer Rice The dumplings to start were fine specimens, quite thin skinned with a chunky pork & spring onion filling and good crispy edges. The lamb skewers were coated in moreish dry rub of cumin, chilli, szechuan pepper and salt. Delicious. Aubergines with the flavour of fish (I think this dish is more commonly known as fish fragrant aubergine) doesn't actually contain fish, I believe it's so named because the seasonings used are the same as for cooking fish in Szechuan cookery. The aubergines had been fried in a substantial quantity of oil, to which more oil had been added but were nicely cooked nontheless, soft without being mushy. The flavour was actually quite mild; sweet and garlicky with just a hint of chilli heat. The duck was the highlight of the meal, it had been braised long and slow in a beer based stock laced with generous amounts of chilli, szechuan pepper and garlic, rendering it beautifully tender and deeply flavoured. The level of chilli heat and the numbness from the szechuan peppercorns was just right and the mild peppers, pickled peppers and spring onions added a vibrant, fresh contrast. Not really a big fan of the taro pieces though, they're sort of like grainy, floury potatoes in texture, and added little to the dish flavour-wise. A wonderful meal, and another great Chinese restaurant to add to the list with Hunan and Red Chilli. This sort of food is always great value as well. Our bill came to £50 for two including service and three beers each. Stick to water and a feast will set you back about £15 per head. Service was also friendly and efficient throughout. Thoroughly recommended.
  3. I quite liked the look of Isinglass, not sure whether your post has encouraged or discouraged me! Can't believe they are lying about having a Bib Gourmand. Anyway, on to the main reason for this post. Dosa Express, Withington Another worthy addition to the Manchester South Indian food options. Very basic, canteen type of place. I think Sindhoor is probably a bit more upmarket from the description above. The food is fairly good here though. I ordered a portion of Medhu Vada and the chicken meal special. The vada were freshly fried with nice crispy edges and a soft centre. They were a bit underspiced (chilli, mustard seeds, curry leaves, black pepper, onions are the usual suspects) but pleasant to eat with the accompanying chutney's (coconut, coriander, and one other) and sambar. The highlight of the meal was the chicken curry. The other components of the meal special (poppadum, salad, rice) were ok but the curry itself was excellent. It had a real depth of flavour, with cardamom and cloves being particularly prominent, and a slow building background chilli heat that had me shovelling in rice to cool the fire. Really good stuff. It's cheap too, £7.26 including soft drink with 20% discount for ordering early.
  4. Crab and Lobster, Asenby, North Yorkshire Sunday afternoon here yesterday. It's a pub restaurant specialising in seafood, been around for years as far as I'm aware. Just about still classifies as a pub, it does have a bar area although the focus is very much on the dining. Off the wall atmosphere with crazy decor and live music (see the blog for full details), it doesn't take itself too seriously. Food is expensive (around £30 for 3 courses without any booze) but the £18 3 course lunches available Mon-Sat would be great value. Generally high standard, excellent mussels, fish soup and desserts. Fish and chips was a bit of a duff note, the fish was fine but the batter was too thick. Roasts were also good, but judging by the soup and mussels I think the fish/seafood dishes (not battered) are probably the way to go. Overall a good option, particularly for a passing lunch as it's just off the main North/South routes (A1 and A19).
  5. I was having a glance through this thread to see whether it's the right place to post about a lunch I'll be going for later today (it probably is, post to follow tonight) but was interested by the debate about beer/food above, so here's my input. There has been a huge explosion in the number of small, independent breweries making interesting beer in recent years. The cask ale movement (the OP on the subject (anm) may have heard of CAMRA, the campaign for real ale) has been going for decades now, but more recent developments have probably been influenced by the American craft beer movement, with high quality keg beers being developed as well as cask ales. The consequence of this is that there are many, many pubs serving high quality beer, but these aren't necessary the same pubs as those serving high quality food (although there are some doing both). Here are a just a few of those pubs in three major cities, listed off the top of my head: London The Rake The Market Porter The Euston Tap Jerusalem Tavern The Royal Oak The Greenwich Union Manchester The Marble Arch Crown and Kettle Bar Fringe Knott Bar The Angel The Castle Hotel Peveril of the Peak The Britons Protection Port Street Beer House Leeds North Bar The Reliance The Adelphi The Palace Mr Foleys Cask Ale House Veritas Every one of the above will serve you excellent beer, and there are many more throughout the country.
  6. Lotus, Northenden Lotus is the other South Indian place in town. It has a full menu of South Indian classics and also a Malaysian menu. So far I've only had a dosa to take away. It was good enough to warrant a return visit to eat in. I ordered a chicken masala dosa (£5.30 I think) to go. A dosa is probably not the best choice for takeaway as the pancake goes a bit floppy in transit. Thirty seconds under a hot grill crisped it up nicely though. The results: not bad at all. Crisp, thin dosa, nearly as long as your arm. Spiced potato and chicken curry fillings, generous with the chicken. Classic accompaniments - sambhar and two chutney's. The spicing was fairly decent throughout, with plenty of curry leaves and mustard seeds in evidence, but not really enough heat. South Indian food usually purges you with a full-on chilli blast. This was a bit tame in comparison with my past experiences, but I guess this could just be them catering to the market. Most of the South Indian spots in London are canteens catering to the local Tamil populations, not a particularly big market in Northenden I suppose.
  7. Hunan, George Street, Chinatown Just to add a few further comments regarding Hunan Restaurant, further to Harters post a while back. I really liked it here. Two of us got through the following dishes: Countryside style green chilli stir-fried pork Tender lamb belly hotpot Stir-fried chinese leaves with chopped salted chillies Pork and chinese leaf dumplings Boiled rice All really good solid dishes, similar style to the szechuan dishes just without the szechuan peppercorns. First up the green chilli pork. Searingly hot, salty, meaty, delicious. The chinese leaves followed swiftly and were also great. The salted chillies were obviously fermented to some extent, lending a slightly funky edge to the dish that worked well with the crisp leaves. The lamb hotpot was splendid, a rich meaty broth with the belly strips and various veggies floating around in it. Some of the belly fat must have been strained off as it wasn't overly fatty. The dumplings arrived last but not least. Of the sturdy, chewy skinned variety rather than the delicate sort (a bit like the Beijing dumplings at Red Chilli) they were spot on with the accompanying soy/vinegar/chilli dipping sauce. £50 all in for two including two beers apiece and service. Regarding Middle Kingdom, haven't tried it but Manchester Confidential have reviewed both and rated Middle Kingdom higher.
  8. Baekdu, Shudehill A cheap, canteen style Korean place on Shudehill (just up from the tram/bus interchange). Very good Korean pancakes (about £5), like a cross between an american pancake and omelette. Thick, crisp crust, good comfort food. Decent dolsot bibimbap (rice in a heated clay bowl with egg, meat, veggies, chilli red bean paste). Not the most refined version (the better ones use a raw egg yolk and raw beef that is cooked through the heat of the bowl) but pretty good nonetheless. Beef and kimchi stew was enjoyable as well, lovely spicy, salty broth. Both main courses about £7. A good alternative to the curry cafes that proliferate in the area. (My current favourite of the curry cafes in that area is Yadgar. A notch in terms of spicing than previous visits to This & That and Al-Faisal). Dave
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