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Manchester City Center


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My major problem in living in the city centre is not being out of work at any time when any interesting delis/shops are open--I made LSTD just once. Which leaves me M&S and Tesco Metro (a definition of hell on earth). If our cafe wasn't so good, I'd not quite literally starve.

It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thom: sent you pm re being in Man.

A pleasure. Genuinely, I could bore the pants of people about Manchester all day...

I think that you'll find that Manchester has a dining scene bigger, broader and more varied than anywhere outside London. It's a shame we just don't have real top drawer place like Leeds has Anthonys. Apart from the incomparable Paul Kitching down in Altrincham (20 mins by tram out of the city) we haven't had a Michelin star for 20 years.

Food shopping? Hmmm... Like a lot of regional city centres Manchester hasn't fared well for indigenous food shopping. The trade produce markets (Smithfield etc) got pushed out into purpose built sheds outside the city centre, and the original 'public' market got shoved into the crappy Arndale Centre. It retained a very good fish selection until it got moved again (losing stalls on the way) due to a refurb.

Most of the best shopping in Manchester is ethnic, and all most of it is outside the city. I'm not sure if you will venture outside the city, so I'll keep this bit brief:

JEWISH

There are lots of excellent Jewish pattiseries and deli's in North Manchester around Cheetham Hill and Prestwich (5-10 mins from the centre). The most famous is the Titanic, which was opened by one of the ships survivors, and is today owned by his (great?) grandchildren.

INDIAN/PAKISTANI

Rusholme (Oxford Road, 5 mins south of the centre, beyond the University) is Manchester's famous 'Curry Mile', and has stacks of restaurants and food shops. Nowadays though the selection in Cheetham Hill is almost as good, and the pricing can be cheaper.

POLISH/ORGANIC/FAIRTRADE ETC

I've lumped these slightly incongruous catergories in together as you'll find them all in bohemian Chorlton (5 mins South of centre). The Barbakan deli is famous for its huge selection of breads. Polish is obviously it's speciality, but the range is really incredible. You'll never buy a bad loaf.

Opposite is the Unicorn Grocery. This is stuffed with the most morally correct right on food ever, but more often that not this means it turns up produce which is unusual or of outstanding quality. There are numerous other quality food retailers in Chorlton, which is why Culinary Bear is a convert!

'REET NORTHERN

I'm allowed to take the micky out of the Northern accent as I am Northern... if you want traditional Northern English markets then the one at Bolton (30 mins drive from the centre) is top drawer. It has a real sense of pride, and is a bustling, thriving market with a serious food section, which includes all the local favourites (from cheeses to tripe) as well brilliant fish and some international deli style stalls.

CITY CENTRE

In the city centre the pickings are slightly slimmer... You are right to highlight Chinatown, which has some excellent supermarkets (I normally end up at the Woo Sang). They're very convinient, though the massive Chinese supermarkets on the Northern and Southern tips of the city have much wider selections.

If you want deli style stuff then the afore mentioned Love Saves the Day is good (though they are more cafe then Deli), and Harvey Nicholls is much as you would expect it. Selfridges started very well but it now seriously watered down (all basically 'ready meal' stuff in nice bowls - the fresh meat, fish and produce has gone).

Oh, there's a decent cookware shop on deansgate - it was Peter Maturi but some company from Leeds has renamed it now.

I'd also keep an eye out for markets. They used to be a decent (if small) farmers market in the Northern Quarter a couple of times a month, but I think it has now moved out to somewhere more high profile. Both Albert Square and Piccadilly Gardens have regular markets, which more than often not are international travelling affairs (German, french etc). It can be a bit touristy, but there are some bargains to be had...

Oh, I forgot, Samsi Yakatori restaurant (which sadly has not got great reports lately) has a small Japanese food/products shop underneath the dining room (Whitworth St) which is quite fun.

Again, I best draw a line here as otherwise I will completely arse-up my pre-holiday desk clearing.

Cheers

Thom

Holy..

Wow thanks guys, some pretty insane amounts of suggestions going on here!! I can't thank you all enough, the level of information is awesome!!

In terms of foodie-type shops, are there things like this in Manchester? I know obviously of Chinatown, but other than that, any decent shops that someone would be interested in?

Thanks again folks, especialliy Thom!!

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  • 2 months later...

Thom,

We enjoyed seeing you and MAN last time that we are coming back. Sent to you pm.

TGullet.

Thom: sent you pm re being in Man.
A pleasure. Genuinely, I could bore the pants of people about Manchester all day...

I think that you'll find that Manchester has a dining scene bigger, broader and more varied than anywhere outside London. It's a shame we just don't have real top drawer place like Leeds has Anthonys. Apart from the incomparable Paul Kitching down in Altrincham (20 mins by tram out of the city) we haven't had a Michelin star for 20 years.

Food shopping? Hmmm... Like a lot of regional city centres Manchester hasn't fared well for indigenous food shopping. The trade produce markets (Smithfield etc) got pushed out into purpose built sheds outside the city centre, and the original 'public' market got shoved into the crappy Arndale Centre. It retained a very good fish selection until it got moved again (losing stalls on the way) due to a refurb.

Most of the best shopping in Manchester is ethnic, and all most of it is outside the city. I'm not sure if you will venture outside the city, so I'll keep this bit brief:

JEWISH

There are lots of excellent Jewish pattiseries and deli's in North Manchester around Cheetham Hill and Prestwich (5-10 mins from the centre). The most famous is the Titanic, which was opened by one of the ships survivors, and is today owned by his (great?) grandchildren.

INDIAN/PAKISTANI

Rusholme (Oxford Road, 5 mins south of the centre, beyond the University) is Manchester's famous 'Curry Mile', and has stacks of restaurants and food shops. Nowadays though the selection in Cheetham Hill is almost as good, and the pricing can be cheaper.

POLISH/ORGANIC/FAIRTRADE ETC

I've lumped these slightly incongruous catergories in together as you'll find them all in bohemian Chorlton (5 mins South of centre). The Barbakan deli is famous for its huge selection of breads. Polish is obviously it's speciality, but the range is really incredible. You'll never buy a bad loaf.

Opposite is the Unicorn Grocery. This is stuffed with the most morally correct right on food ever, but more often that not this means it turns up produce which is unusual or of outstanding quality. There are numerous other quality food retailers in Chorlton, which is why Culinary Bear is a convert!

'REET NORTHERN

I'm allowed to take the micky out of the Northern accent as I am Northern... if you want traditional Northern English markets then the one at Bolton (30 mins drive from the centre) is top drawer. It has a real sense of pride, and is a bustling, thriving market with a serious food section, which includes all the local favourites (from cheeses to tripe) as well brilliant fish and some international deli style stalls.

CITY CENTRE

In the city centre the pickings are slightly slimmer... You are right to highlight Chinatown, which has some excellent supermarkets (I normally end up at the Woo Sang). They're very convinient, though the massive Chinese supermarkets on the Northern and Southern tips of the city have much wider selections.

If you want deli style stuff then the afore mentioned Love Saves the Day is good (though they are more cafe then Deli), and Harvey Nicholls is much as you would expect it. Selfridges started very well but it now seriously watered down (all basically 'ready meal' stuff in nice bowls - the fresh meat, fish and produce has gone).

Oh, there's a decent cookware shop on deansgate - it was Peter Maturi but some company from Leeds has renamed it now.

I'd also keep an eye out for markets. They used to be a decent (if small) farmers market in the Northern Quarter a couple of times a month, but I think it has now moved out to somewhere more high profile. Both Albert Square and Piccadilly Gardens have regular markets, which more than often not are international travelling affairs (German, french etc). It can be a bit touristy, but there are some bargains to be had...

Oh, I forgot, Samsi Yakatori restaurant (which sadly has not got great reports lately) has a small Japanese food/products shop underneath the dining room (Whitworth St) which is quite fun.

Again, I best draw a line here as otherwise I will completely arse-up my pre-holiday desk clearing.

Cheers

Thom

Holy..

Wow thanks guys, some pretty insane amounts of suggestions going on here!! I can't thank you all enough, the level of information is awesome!!

In terms of foodie-type shops, are there things like this in Manchester? I know obviously of Chinatown, but other than that, any decent shops that someone would be interested in?

Thanks again folks, especialliy Thom!!

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  • 3 months later...

Red Chilli quite happily offered my girlfriend the standard non-adventurous chinese menu (spare ribs, chicken with 47 different sauces) whilst I munched on some pig trotter!

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Erm, has anyone suggested Glamourous/Glorious (I forget the name) - in Ancoats, above the Wing Yip supermarket. Get there early as impossible to get a table (300 seater) after 12.30pm. Best food and best value Chinese I've had (and I should know, I'm one of them).

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Red Chilli was very very good, even my vegetarian mate enjoyed it. I had 2 main courses (poached spicy lamb and an off menu spicy trotter dish) both were well above the standard of chinese cooking i'm used to. The Spring Onion bread as recommended on here was fantastic too. Shame they don't do smaller portions then I could have tried even more. I'll be back next time I'm in Manchester though.

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  • 4 weeks later...

A bit belated I know, but just to add that Gorgeous Restaurant is decent is unspectacular Cantonese Chinese, and the only thing which makes it unique is the fact it's main view is directly into the second floor of a multi-story car park.

In it's defense it is a minutes walk from the wonderful Marble Arch microbrewery/pub, and there are numerous other decent drinking houses on that Northern edge of the Northern Quarter.

I think it is on a par with say the Tai Pan (on Upper Brook St) or the Little Yang Sing maybe. Yang Sing and Wings beat it for refinement, though personally (deja vu here) I say just go to Red Chilli on Portland St and eat on the wild side of the menu.

Cheers

Thom

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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A bit belated I know, but just to add that Gorgeous Restaurant is decent is unspectacular Cantonese Chinese, and the only thing which makes it unique is the fact it's main view is directly into the second floor of a multi-story car park.

In it's defense it is a minutes walk from the wonderful Marble Arch microbrewery/pub, and there are numerous other decent drinking houses on that Northern edge of the Northern Quarter.

I think it is on a par with say the Tai Pan (on Upper Brook St) or the Little Yang Sing maybe. Yang Sing and Wings beat it for refinement, though personally (deja vu here) I say just go to Red Chilli on Portland St and eat on the wild side of the menu.

Cheers

Thom

Isn't it called Glamourous? In my view it's better than any of the Yang Sings - a couple of hundred Chinese clamouring to get in on a Sunday can't be wrong.

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Sorry, sorry, 'Glamorous'. My design agency are called Glorious so it was on my brain...

To be honest I've eaten there several times and found it merely decent, and the fact that a couple of hundred Chinese people eat there on a Sunday doesn't reassure me any more than the fact that thousands of Asian families eat out in Rusholme every week (even though there aren't two good restaurants to rub together). Or for that matter, the fact that millions of Americans eat at McDonalds etc etc...

The little Yang Sing is not bad at all, and although I think the 'big' Yang Sing (no relation) has slipped recently I still don't think there is anywhere in the city doing better dim sum.

Edit to add: If you really want top drawer Chinese (and if a 95% Chinese clientele is your benchmark) then go Sichuan and try Red Chilli (see my previous threads ad infinitum).

Cheers

Thom

Edited by thom (log)

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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Or is it Glorious?

To be honest have not eaten at either Yang Sing for a long time but have always believed them to be over-rated. Do not altogether trust English critics and their palates when reviewing Chinese restaurants. Having said that, might give it a go next time I'm up and am happy to have my opinion changed,

As a second generation Chinese brought up in the restaurant biz in Manchester, still have to say that I was v impressed with Glamorous/Glorious/Gorgeous. Far superior yum cha than down here in London.

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  • 2 years later...

An old thread resurrected to comment on a good value dinner at Glamorous this evening (a birthday celebration for me).

No dim sum trolleys in the evening so we settled on a "dim sum combination" - This brings a plate of crispy wonton, sui mei, har gau, a deep fried prawn wonton ( fun gor?), seaweed and spring roll. Good mix of textures but all a bit prawny.

A main of fillet steak in Cantonese sauce arrived on a “sizzling” hot plate with some onions. Thin slices of very tender meat, covered in a sticky sweet sauce. This worked well for one of us, but not for the other who found sweet beef not to their taste (Chinese cuisine is not Mrs H's first or even third choice)

A second main bought a very well filled plate of char siu pork. Cut slightly thicker than expected, and with a thin honey glaze adding to the good flavour of the meat, this was excellent. I do like my piggy.

We also ordered a third dish – stir fried broccoli and mangetout in garlic sauce, hoping this would add a moistness to complement the pork. It provided some welcome crunch and change in texture, but the sauce was non-existent and just comprised scattered garlic.

With a drink before and just a bottle of water with the meal, the bill came to £50. Good value & good food in our view.

John Hartley

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  • 3 weeks later...

Congrats are in order, I see The Modern has been nominated for Manchester Best Newcomer in this months Lancashire Life. Fingers crossed for you guys. I don't know how big a deal it is for you? But it's good coverage I guess. They're up against Ithaca and Michael Caines @ Abode. Final is in December.

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Congrats are in order, I see The Modern has been nominated for Manchester Best Newcomer in this months Lancashire Life. Fingers crossed for you guys. I don't know how big a deal it is for you? But it's good coverage I guess. They're up against Ithaca and Michael Caines @ Abode. Final is in December.

Well, its better than being slapped in the face with a wet fish certainly! I somehow doubt we'll win though, but its nice to be thought well of. However, listing or non-listing in the GFG will make the difference between very happy Modernites and slightly downcast ones, only leavened by the new lamb's tongue dish on the September menu (you see what I did there?).

Edited by BertieWooster (log)

It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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I really enjoyed Gary Rhodes recent show Rhodes around China, the show more than Gary himself, I must add. It was quite a good showcase on highlighting regional variations etc. Anyway it gave me a craving to eat some good Chinese, in particular Szechuan. Having been to Red Chilli a few times I thought I would try somewhere different, so I ended up in Red & Hot on Faulkner Street.

I was really impressed with the food here, now I am no expert on Chinese food, having never been to China etc, but this was good. One of my dining friends remarked it was so unlike Chinese food, I knew what she meant.

Some of the stand out dishes were the sichuan steamed spicy aubergine, which was so light and tasty. Crushed cucumber in delicious sauce, which was exactly that, I have never had a cucumber excite me much (ooh er missus). Sliced fish sichuan lavishly topped with chilli and sichuan pepper, I am not sure how they cooked this fish but it was like velvet in texture. The old favourite Pock Marked ladies Tofu with minced meat, was excellent, not a bit fan of tofu, but this made it exciting. Lots of other dishes which involved exploding kidney flowers, duck tongues, intestine, tripe and lung. Infact it would take a few visits to try all the dishes as the menu as it as long as it is exciting.

One thing is the portions are massive, you really get lots of food for quite a low price.

I prefered this place to Red Chilli and will definitely go again.

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Thanks for the heads up on Red & Hot, never been in that one!

Does anyone else feel that the standard has dropped in Chinatown over the past few years? I've been a regular for almost twenty years now, and it seems that in an effort to keep the prices down (to compete with the recent AYCE buffets?), the standard of ingredients is lessening on the ALC side. Especially seafood.

A few of my Chinese friends concur with me.

I've stopped going to a few of my regulars like Kwok Man as it has got really dire lately. .

Was never that impressed with Pacific, apart form the Thai lunch deal.

Not been in Yang Sing for years, general opinion seems to be it has slipped considering the prices it charges.

Red Chilli started off great but seems to have slipped a bit.

Wings was fantastic at first (the best of the Cantonese, I felt) but again the last couple of vists were so so, especially the Dim Sum (which was the high point the first two visits when it opened).

For the money (£4.50 for all main dishes), I've been favouring the noodle bar in Mint casino on Princess Street for a cheap scran Sun-Tues 7pm -2am. They do a Prawn Wonton soup in a poly cup for £1.50! Half crisp/ half char siu pork, soup noodle is another fave. Need photo ID to join any of the casino's but it's a thirty second job worth doing.

Anyone else add to a list of standouts?

Edited by Infrasonic (log)
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I don't travel into the city to eat too often these days but my visits to Chinatown date back to when I worked nearby in the mid-70s when the Kwok Man was pretty much on its own. Havnt been back there in a long time.

Had a decent meal at the New Emperor late last year and, around the same time, took some friends to the Yang Sing. Thought the food was still pretty enjoyable, although one of our party was a veggie and wasnt that impressed (that said, Mrs H is not the greatest fan of Chinese food so it wouldnt have taken much for her to set her face against it)

I've had a couple of solitary lunches this year (one at the Little Yang Sing, the other just down the street from Ho's Bakery - can't recall name). Neither were particularly good and I would agree that, at this cheaper end of the market, the quality is suffering as they compete with the buffets. Both still better than the buffets, though.

As you'll have seen up-thread, my current Cantonese fave is Glamorous - lunch or dinner.

Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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Yeah Glamorous is a five minute walk from where I live, been a few times. Sunday Dim Sum trolleys are good fun and it's usually rammed.

A very successful HK Chinese acquaintance of mine who owns a bean sprout growing business was saying that the buffet explosion is being driven by the Chinese wholesale/cash 'n carry owners who set these places up to offload soon to be expired date stamp frozen goods! The economics of it all stack up. He's not a BS type, so I lend it some credence.

All the regular big hitters in the casinos are cash 'n carry guys, so some serious dosh is being made for them to drop <20k in a night without flinching. (Of course, whether it has all been declared to HMRC before it hits the casino is another matter entirely!)

I noticed that the buffet idea is spreading to other nationalities now as well. It's no longer the preserve of the Chinese or Indian. I just hope it doesn't wipe everybody else out at the low to mid range, the buffets are extremely popular.

As a city center dweller it's good to have that option of not cooking and being able to have a regular quality ALC sit down for less than a tenner.

Edited by Infrasonic (log)
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The explanation of the buffet thing makes sense (isnt the Greek/Turkish/Cypriot place on Princess Street now buffet?). I'm in Stockport fairly often at lunch time and the general town centre offerings are dire - I usually end up at a Chinese buffet just near the station.

Do you have any reasonably priced lunch recs. for Chinatown or immediate area? I'm starting a research project in the autumn that's going to see me spending a lot of time at Central Library and I like to get out for a proper lunchbreak but one that isnt going to take too long.

Just returning to your mention of Wings, I've never eaten at the city centre branch, but was taken by family members to the original place in Cheadle Hulme last year. Nothing stellar, IMO.

Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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  • 2 weeks later...
I really enjoyed Gary Rhodes recent show Rhodes around China, the show more than Gary himself, I must add. It was quite a good showcase on highlighting regional variations etc. Anyway it gave me a craving to eat some good Chinese, in particular Szechuan. Having been to Red Chilli a few times I thought I would try somewhere different, so I ended up in Red & Hot on Faulkner Street.

I was really impressed with the food here, now I am no expert on Chinese food, having never been to China etc, but this was good. One of my dining friends remarked it was so unlike Chinese food, I knew what she meant.

Some of the stand out dishes were the sichuan steamed spicy aubergine, which was so light and tasty. Crushed cucumber in delicious sauce, which was exactly that, I have never had a cucumber excite me much (ooh er missus).  Sliced fish sichuan lavishly topped with chilli and sichuan pepper, I am not sure how they cooked this fish but it was like velvet in texture. The old favourite Pock Marked ladies Tofu with minced meat, was excellent, not a bit fan of tofu, but this made it exciting. Lots of other dishes which involved exploding kidney flowers, duck tongues, intestine, tripe and lung. Infact it would take a few visits to try all the dishes as the menu as it as long as it is exciting.

One thing is the portions are massive, you really get lots of food for quite a low price.

I prefered this place to Red Chilli and will definitely go again.

I see Neil Soweby reviewed Red N Hot in the MEN, with 3 out of 5 overall. Within the review he actually takes time to mention a certain observer critic and passes on his blessings to said Mr Rayner. Good to see such commaradery amongst restuarant critics. :smile:

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