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Red Chilli Chinese restaurant

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Another solitary lunch - the oft reported French bean/chilli/pork dish.

I do like the almost total dryness of this dish - makes such a change from most Chinese offerings. And, with so little sauce, there was almost nothing to slosh down the front of my shirt.

By the by, I asked for "still water". Got given a glass of tap (which was fine) and was charged £1.50 for the privilege (which was not so fine.

John Hartley

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm ashamed to say that it has taken me until yesterday to break my Red Chilli duck. Finding myself alone in Manchester and rather ravenous I thought it was about time to right that wrong. I ordered Bejing dumplings and hot and spicy poached pork (following recommendations on here)with steamed rice. First observation was the portion size - immense. Second observation was how damned fine the scran was! Right from the warm salted peanuts, through to the bucket-sized inferno of chillis, garlic, lettuce and pork, this is the closest thing I have found to food as it is in parts of Hong Kong and southern China.

I swilled a bottle of TsingTao and some Chinese tea and left sweating heavily, grinning from ear to ear and only seventeen quid lighter.


Always hungry.

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  • 1 month later...

Lunched in the Manchester branch today. It was magnificent.

I have been looking at this thread for ages (some of the earliest post are hilarious) but today was the first time I had managed to get over to Manchester. After an earlyish start, no breakfast, and then the joys of the Trafford centre, I was ready for a feed.

I nearly always choose Indian or Thai over Chinese as I don’t like the standard Anglo Chinese slop most places dish up - usually featuring a shocking sweet red sauce with sad meat topped with mounds of onions no matter what you order.

This was different. The individual dishes both looked and tasted different, moreover they tasted good.

We ordered

Beijing dumplings

Poached salty duck

Hot spicy beef

Spicy hot poached lamb

Sichuan Mrs Spotty’s beancurd with minced beef

And some fried rice

There was so much food - too much in truth. The lamb was huge – easily enough to feed two with nothing else but a little rice. When I saw the waitress approaching with a vast cauldron I didnt imagine it was for me! I still have a heap of the lamb and some beef in the fridge for when I get peckish later on.

With a beer, a glass of juice and all the grub it came to about £36 for two. Bargain. Can’t wait to go back.



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  • 3 months later...

Just returned from our first visit to Red Chilli Leeds for a couple of months, and I'm pleased to report it was excellent, guotie, salt pepper squid and spring onion bread to start, then mutton hotpot (the one loaded with chillis and schezuan peppers), braised pig joint, green beans with pork and chilli and some rice.

It was the perfect combination, all dishes we've had before, but cooked as good as they get. The best thing is, there's a carrier bag full of leftovers waiting to go in the fridge, so that's breakfast sorted.

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  • 3 weeks later...

It fealt like a form of betrayal, last year, when I jumped ship and popped around the corner into Chinatown proper to try Red-n Hot. What I thought at first was to be a brief flirtation, turned into a bit of a love job, and we have been going there (mostly) ever since.

Our recent visit to London's Chilli Cool clearly brought comparison to my first Sichuan love. So I needed to re-establish our relationship as it had been tested last year by way of a poor meal.

I knew which two mains to order and my wife wanted to try the Soft shell crab again but this time with a different sauce from the one we nearly sent back last July.


Just as I remember it, nothing changed, even the weather. Downstairs to heaven.

The manager tells me chef Old Xie has retired and is back in China

New chef ( and perhaps just as accomplished ) is Gang Wang, pictured here with our charming waitress, who,s name escapes me.


One must try again dish was the Gongbao diced Spring Chicken, a sticky goo-ey plate of loveliness.


I'm not quite sure what it is that draws us back to this dish, again and again. Perhaps its the sweetness, the crunch from the peanuts married with the spring onion, or the tender chicken and thick garlic slices. Just a fab dish for us.

One new thing for us on this visit was an additional nine page menu of "specials" and new arrivals. We were tempted by a few but opted for the safe route for this visit, but there really is a massive choice on both menus, most of which deserve exploration.

Another "safe" dish for us, Stir fried French beans with chilli and Minced Pork. Real comfort food, tasty mince with crunchy beans and not too much chilli.

Bang on the money.


She who must be obeyed, thinks the Spicey hot poached Lamb is too hot to be enjoyed, I of course disagree, but I am a bloke so of course we just had to have it, most if not all of it for me, and a big doggy bag to take home. Yee Hee.


Now this really is a huge dish of food and the picture does not convey the true size, as the quantity is nearly twice that of the other dishes.

Surprise, surprise Cilla, the first couple of spoonfuls are acceptably pleasant. No fierce heat, which raised a smile on my wifes face tempting her to try some. We both agreed, just right.

My next couple of spoonfuls caught me out big time, I must have chomped down on seven or eight birds eye chills which chokingly induced an irritating cough which I was concerned would attract the attention of the other diners. I did'n't want this, as tears were coming into my eyes and beads of sweat in the form of a moustache was evident under my nose. Lack of respect has caught me out and taught me a lesson, its still as hot as hell. I have to take refuge in the boiled rice and glugs of water.

One thing is evident between here and Chilli Cool and that is the different types of chilli used. Here they use the exceedingly hot birds eye propped up with sichan peppercorns and chilli oil. Chilli Cool (and Red-n-Hot)use the larger dry red chilli which is no where near as hot, more aromatic when dry fried to release the pent up aroma.

Our final dish was Stir fried soft shell Crab, chilli (what else?) salt and pepper.


Again a mini mountain of food, with absolutly no waste in it at all. Very pleasant eat and somewhat different texturally to the other food. We managed to eat all of this dish, so no need to doggy bag it. Yum, Yum.

Yes we know gluttony is a sin but we did order a bit extra so as to share our meal a bit with you, :wink: and we did of course have a doggy bag so things were not so bad after all.

We are more than happy to report our love affair with Red Chilli has resumed and furthar courtship shall continue over the coming months.

Our preference between Chilli Cool and here is most certainly the latter and its a damb site closer to where we live.

Watch this space.

All the above (enough for four or five) including a couple of glasses of wine, a pint of lager, and tip was £50.

Thank you.

Edited by david goodfellow (log)

"So many places, so little time"



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Don't know if you've noticed David, but the hot poached lamb has improved recently, it's served differently, in a dish which highlights the lamb rather than making it look like a bucket of chillis in broth! Only on our last visit to the Leeds branch was it served like this, so I was interested to see in your photos that it's served similarly over the Pennines now. As for the Green beans and pork dish, a true classic, the same everytime, and no worse for that.

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I really wish they would open a branch in Liverpool. We have one (to my knowledge) place that serves some very good Sichuan food, but as it is the only place I have eaten it, I have nothing to compare it with ... It's called Chilli Chilli, and the picture of your lamb dish looks very similar to the beef hotpot they do, and it's gorgeous. They also do the beans and pork, a great spicey, sour, glass noodle soup, some minced pork dumplings and some others too. Very addictive.

Anyone know if Red Chilli have any expansion plans to this end of the M62?

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Don't know if you've noticed David, but the hot poached lamb has improved recently, it's served differently, in a dish which highlights the lamb rather than making it look like a bucket of chillis in broth!

I think your right, the lamb is most prominent now, hiding the chillies between the layers of meat and iceberg lettuce and that is what caught me out. Still I shall know next time.

Anyone know if Red Chilli have any expansion plans to this end of the M62?

I'll ask the question on my next visit :wink:

"So many places, so little time"



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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't know what the lamb dish at Red Chilli used to look like but David's photo makes the new presentation quite similar to the version of the dish round the corner at Red & Hot (as his, my preferred choice for Sichuan in the Rainy City).

By the by, when I was last wandering through Chinatown, I spotted a Hunanese place. Anyone tried it? Can't recall the name, but directly opposite Ho's Bakery.

John Hartley

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Is this the one your on about John?

Good old Manchester Confidential has its finger on the pulse of the City.

I am slightly confused in as much as I thought it was a new place, but according to this its been around some time.

Just checked and they are different places. The latter is indeed across the road from Red n Hot but I have not been to either of them,,,,,,, yet.

"So many places, so little time"



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I'm confused now David. I didnt think there were 2 Hunan places. I wasnt paying too much attention at the time. I'd just come out of Ho's and was munching on one of their mini honey buns (well recommended)- whatever the name is, it's directly opposite Ho's (and , therefore, opposite side of road from Red & Hot)

John Hartley

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  • 4 months later...

I finally made it to Red Chilli last night - I've been really keen to try it, as I have only ever been to one Sichuan restaurant (Chilli Chilli in Liverpool) and after all these rave reviews of Red Chilli, I wanted to see if our one cut the mustard (or should I say "cut the chilli"...)

I wanted to try the hotpot dish for comparison between the two places, and I also wanted to try something new. So we ordered the beef hot pot, belly pork with preserved vegetable casserole, spring onion bread, green beans with pork and boiled rice.

(As an aside, Prawncracker asked upthread whether the hot pot dish everyone raves about on here is a lamb version of "water boiled beef" which is a literal translation of a very traditional Sichuan dish. It is definitely the same dish - it's also called water boiled beef in Fuschia Dunlop's book. The secret behind its umami and real depth of flavour is in the chilli bean paste, which is the main ingredient of the sauce).

Anyway - for what it's worth, our thoughts (and comparisons, where we have them before) on the dishes we had are:

The hotpot was great - very similar to the one we have at our regular haunt in Liverpool, but not as hot. Having said that, people on here have said that the heat can vary from day to day and chef to chef, as it can in our place. But it was delicious nonetheless. I would say that the broth was slightly better than the one we're used to, but that the use of iceberg lettuce is a bit strange, as it becomes soggy very quickly - the traditional dish would usually have celery and chinese leaves, which remain crunchy.

The belly pork with preserved vegetable casserole was not what I was expecting from the reviews on here. It looked and tasted pretty anaemic (although after eating the hot pot many things would ...). It was comforting in a way, but still rather bland, especially as the menu gave it a two chilli rating - there was absolutely no heat or chilli in it at all. And I couldn't taste or see any preserved vegetables - it was all fresh chinese leaves, glass noodles and a little bit of pak choi. The slices of pork and leaves were in a pale watery broth.

I was convinced they had given us the wrong dish, so I queried it, but they insisted that it was the right one. There is another similarly named dish on the menu - Braised Sliced pork Belly with preserved Cabbage - which does not have a chilli rating, and could be what I got. But even if it was, there seemed to be no evidence of the preserved cabbage (and it has a really distinctive flavour). We had the leftovers for breakfast this morning, and it seemed to improve with a bit of age, and with the addition of some soy sauce, but the jury is still out on that one.

The French beans with pork was nice enough - a different rendition to what we're used to. The Red Chilli version includes chilli bean paste and is more generous with the pork. "Our" one is simpler, with whole green beans, whole dried chillies and sea salt - I think I prefer it like this, as the plain crunchy beans are a better foil for all the complex flavours in the other dishes.

Finally, the spring onion bread - I hadn't realised we had had it before in the Liverpool restaurant until I tasted it. I'm not sure that I like it - it's very like a Chinese version of Roti, but the grease was too much for me, and there was very little spring onion in it. The one we'd had previously was smaller and flakier in texture and had more flavour - but I wasn't a great fan of it then.

Overall, it was good stuff - the hot pot in particular. If anyone has any ideas on the mystery of the belly pork dish, I'd be interested to know your thoughts.

The staff were lovely too. Prices are very good, but the beer has a big mark-up at £3.60 a bottle - should have stuck to the draft. I was pleased to try another Sichuan place and also pleased that I think the one we have closer to home seems to measure up ok! I hope I haven't bored you with my musings... :o)

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Mac D I have been past chilli chilli a few times on the way to the station I will definitely try it, I wanted sichuan friday but settled for another trip to delifonseca rather than drive to Manchester.

Chilli Chilli is on Nelson St in China Town - is that the one you pass? I'm asking just because it's not somewhere I'd pass on the way to any station :o)

And their Sichuan menu is quite short, so if/when you go, it's worth asking if they do any dishes you can't see on it, as they have a separate menu for Chinese people.

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  • 2 months later...

I visit Red Chilli (Oxford Road) at least once every two weeks, and have eaten nearly everything on the menu. Last week I realised I had never ordered gong bao chicken, so I did. Was quite disapointed as it was very very sweet, almost like sweet and sour chicken. Also it arrived two minutes after ordering.

Oh well one dud out of many.

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is that the peanut and chilli one? that's quite a favourite of mine in the york branch, but there's definitely variation branch to branch. it may have been on the lunch specials, if they are those dishes come asap - the dumplings are often on.

you don't win friends with salad

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Yeah the classic dish with peanuts and chilli. I have cooked Fuschia's a few times and it seemed much more balanced. It probably varies chef to chef too. I watched it being cooked on Gary Rhodes around China, and it was prepared by a Heston style Chinese chef. Very interesting it was too.

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As upthread, I've had this at Red Chilli's city centre and Atherton branches and thought it OK (city better than Atherton). Good balance of the sweet and kickarse chilli.

That said, I prefer the version at Red N Hot in the city centre.

John Hartley

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First post!

Longtime lurker though, and thanks for the excellent tips I've picked up from you guys on here. Not least Red Chilli which is now my favourite restaurant.

But yeah, I was also underwhelmed by the gong bao chicken. Sweet and gloopy like bad chinese food rather than the brilliant stuff which normally arrives. My current favourites are the braised pork belly with preserved cabbage and the deep-fried matchstick-thin chips with chilli. Which are like the world's best beer snack.

What other dishes do people recommend (I've tried all the ones upthread already).

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If long beans with minced pork, and spicy lamb are your dishes, call me when you visit San Francisco and I'll share a good address. Also order Shanghai noodles and you'll die a happy man...with coin leftover in the pockets of your shroud. :wink:

eGullet member #80.

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  • 9 months later...

Whenever we head to Chinatown its either overcast or pouring with rain. I'm convinced that on a dull day we seek out comfort in sichuan food.


I'm nothing if not predictable and sort of guessed it would have to be the hot spicy lamb and gongbao chicken with whatever dish my wife fancied to complete the trio.



The lamb dish is most certainly not as hot this time around. Two of the chefs that I noticed in and out of the kitchen were new on me, I had not seen them before. The dish itself had a lot less birdseye chillies in it and also a lot less dried chilli slabs floating about, in fact a lot lot less. I tried to persuade my wife to try it but she would not take my word for it. Still the plan was to doggy bag it as the portion is way to big for one to eat. So perhaps she would try it another time.

Personally I think less chilli is for the better.

We sort of both agreed that the Stir fried soft shell crab with garlic and salt was to be the third choice dish. We like the squishy briney inards and the slightly chewy outer. This never fails to satisfy.


Apart from the a la carte menu, we were given a specials menu which lists perhaps about fifty? dishes which seemed interesting. Think tea tree mushrooms with pork belly, pig jelly and luncheon pork. pork maws with preserved vegetable, tender lamb belly with beancurd skin and chilli, pigs trotter with chilli and garlic, etc, etc.

We went with the Garlic flavoured spicy ribs, this is an absolute steal for £4.50. More surprising was the fact the ribs mostly had been well trimmed with only a couple with noticable fat.Also on the plus side the bones were small meaning more meat per bite.


I would never have dreamed to serve braised celery with this dish but it worked really well. I must try this at home. Good mild chilli bean sauce which surprised us. If you look at the top of the picture it is not all mixed in just spooned on top in some places. I asked the manager which type they used and he told me "Old grandma label" available from Chinatown twenty metres away.

On to one of our all time faves the classic GongBao diced chicken with peanuts and dried chilli.

Yes it claggy, sweet, garlicky and totally addictive. Not overly sweet of course, just right. Clearly though the dish is devoid of dried chilli. This theme ran throughout the meal.


Ok so as far away from fine dining as can be imagined, but nevertheless comfort eating at its very best, that is if you like the cusine.

Its down a notch on heat. Not sure if this is on purpose or its purely down to the different chefs interpretation. Personally we think its for the better.

We doggy bagged the lamb and even though I ate quite a bit of it, this is what was left.



We don't get to Red Chilli or indeed Red n Hot as much as we would like too, but they are hardly just down the road from us. Truth be told I have perfected the pork and beans dish that they serve here with the help of Fuchsia Dunlops excellent book Land of Plenty. IMO my dish is as good as any we have eaten out so sometimes for that chilli fix its diy at home.

All of the above, and they are big helpings and easily enough food for four people, £50, which included two glasses of house wine, a pint of lager, tap water and a tip. Jolly Good.

"So many places, so little time"



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    • By liuzhou
      It sometimes seems likes every town in China has its own special take on noodles. Here in Liuzhou, Guangxi the local dish is Luosifen (螺蛳粉 luó sī fěn).
      It is a dish of rice noodles served in a very spicy stock made from the local river snails and pig bones which are stewed for hours with black cardamom, fennel seed, dried tangerine peel, cassia bark, cloves, pepper, bay leaf, licorice root, sand ginger, and star anise. Various pickled vegetables, dried tofu skin, fresh green vegetables, peanuts and loads of chilli are then usually added. Few restaurants ever reveal their precise recipe, so this is tentative. Luosifen is only really eaten in small restaurants and roadside stalls. I've never heard of anyone making it at home.
      In order to promote tourism to the city, the local government organised a food festival featuring an event named "10,000 people eat luosifen together." (In Chinese 10,000 often just means "many".)
      10,000 people (or a lot of people anyway) gathered at Liuzhou International Convention and Exhibition Centre for the grand Liuzhou luosifen eat-in. Well, they gathered in front of the centre – the actual centre is a bleak, unfinished, deserted shell of a building. I disguised myself as a noodle and joined them. 10,001.

      The vast majority of the 10,000 were students from the local colleges who patiently and happily lined up to be seated. Hey, mix students and free food – of course they are happy.

      Each table was equipped with a basket containing bottled water, a thermos flask of hot water, paper bowls, tissues etc. And most importantly, a bunch of Luosifen caps. These read “万人同品螺蛳粉” which means “10,000 people together enjoy luosifen”

      Yep, that is the soup pot! 15 meters in diameter and holding eleven tons of stock. Full of snails and pork bones, spices etc. Chefs delicately added ingredients to achieve the precise, subtle taste required.

      Noodles were distributed, soup added and dried ingredients incorporated then there was the sound of 10,000 people slurping.

      Surrounding the luosifen eating area were several stalls selling different goodies. Lamb kebabs (羊肉串) seemed most popular, but there was all sorts of food. Here are few of the delights on offer.

      Whole roast lamb or roast chicken

      Lamb Kebabs

      Kebab spice mix – Cumin, chilli powder, salt and MSG

      Kebab stall


      Different crab

      Sweet sticky rice balls

      Things on sticks

      Grilled scorpions

      Pig bones and bits

      And much more.
      To be honest, it wasn’t the best luosifen I’ve ever eaten, but it was wasn’t the worst. Especially when you consider the number they were catering for. But it was a lot of fun. Which was the point.
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