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Red Chilli Chinese restaurant


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Bertie,

I'm now worried that you might not be cut out for our proposed lunch at Red Chilli.

Go on, live a little - I think we should be the first egulleteers to try the Hot Wok Trotter.

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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Lunch today at the Red Chilli with a commis in tow.

The waiting staff have a tenuous grasp of English, but to be fair, it's better than the Cantonese skills of the commis and I.

We were given three menus - the fairly generous set lunch menu, the 'anglicised chinese' menu and the 'traditional chinese' menu. We quickly disposed of the first two and set about choosing from the traditional chinese. After failing to spot the husband and wife lung slices, we settled on three mains - the Hot Wok Trotter, the Crispy Smoked Sichuan Duck and the Hot Chilli Clay Pot Assorted Meats. We ordered soft noodles and egg fried rice in memory of Gary Marshall, and tucked in.

The smoked duck was, as Jay said, very similar to a standard crispy duck with pancakes, though the smokiness was definitely there. The clay pot arrived as a vast seething cauldron of meat (and fish) in a deeply flavoured chilli broth. Chicken, deep-fried tofu, tripe, mushrooms, fish balls, scallops, and pork, in a very generous portion.

The Hot Wok Trotter had been braised, boned, pressed, lightly battered, deep-fried, and came sliced on a platter. A good mix of crunch, yielding fattiness and lip-sticking gelatinous bits, and like all of the food, deftly seasoned.

Neither the commis nor I are particularly light eaters, and we admitted defeat about four-fifths of the way through the mountain of food. James's fisrt taste of tripe too, which is worrying considering he's from Oldham.

Together with two Tiger beers and two Tsingtaos, the bill came to a ridiculously cheap 41 quid.

You need to go. Everyone does.

Edited by culinary bear (log)

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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The clay pot sound like a good bet for a solo diner, always problematic with chinese restaurants - I doubt I'll be able to persuade any of my family members to go.

I could probably pack away a few appetisers too!

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Unless you're a fatter bastard than I, I sincerely doubt it. :) You'd need to be a very very hungry bunny indeed to put away a whole clay pot plus rice, never mind appetisers.

To give you some idea, the pot held about three or four pints, and was more than 3/4 full (for a tenner!).

Edited by culinary bear (log)

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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Unless you're a fatter bastard than I, I sincerely doubt it. :)  You'd need to be a very very hungry bunny indeed to put away a whole clay pot plus rice, never mind appetisers.

To give you some idea, the pot held about three or four pints, and was more than 3/4 full (for a tenner!).

I'd give it a good go. Maybe some fairly light appetisers and go easy on the rice!

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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another quick note - had lunch at the Leeds branch on Sat - v good food, excellent value and I left v v v full!

the ma por tofu (aka Mrs sichuan spotty beancurd oojamacallit) - excellent - full of spice and fire - but could still taste tofu and pork - and a ginourmous portion

spring onion cakes - v good also - and reheated well at home, in a frying pan so that I could disgrace myself with stove side scoffing

The lap cheong rolls weren't bad either ..

Right - once work calms down intend to recruit some stomachs for a proper assault on the restaurant ...

Yin

X

Edited by YKL (log)
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Oooohhhh.... another fine lunch (Manchester branch).

Did the lone dining thing today, with only a Manchester Evening News for company. Bliss.

I went for my old fave the stir-fried eel with chilli. Out of stock this week; must have had a run on it. Next choice, was the spicy lamb casserole, which is fantastic, if a little overfacing for one.

Seated with a mineral water and a green tea, the manager wandered over to say hello (he had remembered me from prior visits) and asked what I was eating. 'You don't fancy something different?' he said, on hearing my play-safe option.

Spicy I said, something suitable for a cold and rainy day (in Manchester? No...?). He pointed me towards some chilli pork dish, with a dryer thicker sauce, and a claypot dish with 'assorted meats and fish'. I went for the latter, remaining adamant I wanted a Chinese rather than an Western selection of meat, and it was outstanding.

As per the lamb casserole I had eaten previously this was a thinnish but intense soup, topped with chopped coriander, crushed garlic and chillis, and brimming with mushrooms, bamboo, lettuce and 'assorted meats and fish'. The sauce broth seemed slightly thicker than the lamb dish, but was even better for it.

Delving about, I found fat juicy scallops, finely scored tubes of squid, sliced fish cakes, fish balls, chicken, bean curd and (I needed a prompt on this one) pig skin. The latter is apparently dried and then salted, and then soaked in water before using in a dish. It was flavoursome and remarkably tender.

The amount of food was stupid, necessitating about 10 return trips between my rice bowl and the clay pot. Even then there was a third of the pot still full (though with the choicest morsels missing). I ate till I felt sick with pleasure, and along with a mineral water, huge pot of green tea and boiled rice it cost £10.20.

This could easily (EASILY) have fed two for lunch, meaning all in you'd be spending £5-6 each. Considering this is ordering off the full menu rather than any lunchtime special I just find that brilliant.

Whilst in there (it wasn't too busy today) two English businessmen, who had being tucking into an extensive but rather vanilla selection declared it 'bloody lovely', and told the manager they had seen some 'great reviews lately'. Both your readers in one place Jay.

Remember - this isn't an El Bulli style gastronomic reawakening. But it is just delicious, exciting, authentic, well cooked food, with good quality ingredients, good service and cheap, cheap prices. I love it here.

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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Thom, you must have hollow legs - how on earth did you manage to put all that away?

I forgot about the squid in mine - and thanks for clarifying the pig-skin, I wondered what that was.

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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Thom, you must have hollow legs - how on earth did you manage to put all that away?

I forgot about the squid in mine - and thanks for clarifying the pig-skin, I wondered what that was.

CB, I've only just reread your posts and only just twigged that you had the same dish. Must have been something subliminal. Or maybe they just have a load of pigskin which is on the turn, and are upselling it to any naive looking Westerners... Either way, it tasted good.

I was struggling towards the end, but I'm proud that all the important stuff was scoffed, apart from three or four chunks of bean curd and some smaller vegetable flotsam and jetsam.

That said, I am off out tonight with no time for eating, and so the meal above has become lunch and tea for me (efficient time manager that I am).

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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mmmm, pig skin :rolleyes:

So Thom almost managed it all - sounds like a challenge!

I reckon the trick is to leave the choice bits till last - eat the beancurd and veggies first - there is always room for a few more scallops!

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Bertie,

Thanks for trying to cover, but I realised you weren't coming at that point, I just ordered it because I am a fat git.

There again at the weekend, with gf and the fruit of my loins in tow. The latter slept all the way through (a rare and wonderful occurance) leaving us adults to mop up a fish and beancurd soup - lovely thin and flavoursome broth, with flakes of white fish, succulent beancurd and coriander - and the aformentioned hot chilli pot of assorted meats.

With it we had boiled rice, soft fried noodles (ordered in case Thom Junior woke up - he didn't, we ate them), green tea and two diet Cokes. We shared everything, and just about got through it all. The price? £15.70.

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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I'm eating there with a friend tomorrow (Wednesday) - will choose something suitably off the wall.

thom, I can't work out the pricing - the assorted meats is a tenner, rice and noodles a couple of quid each... did you get the soup and drinks for free? :)

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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I'm eating there with a friend tomorrow (Wednesday) - will choose something suitably off the wall.

thom, I can't work out the pricing - the assorted meats is a tenner, rice and noodles a couple of quid each...  did you get the soup and drinks for free? :)

CB,

Did you get the right lamb dish then? How was the rest of it?

The assorted meats was £7.50, as are (i think) all the clay pot dishes. Not sure what menu you looked at; maybe they have a more steeply priced one for people they don't like the look of?!

See you soon

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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You know, I checked up on it yesterday - the clay pot dish at the top of the list is 10.00, which is why it stuck in my head. All the other clay pot dishes are, you're right, 7.50.

After two pints in a pub just down the way, we ordered crispy sea bass with sweet vinegar, the poached lamb in spiced broth, and sichuan Mrs Spotty's beancurd. I had to quietly phone Thom to consult on the lamb dish - I thought I'd found the right one on the menu but wasn't too sure. :)

Matt and I looked at each other over the bowl of poached lamb (this sounds like a gay Mills and Boon, I know) and mouthed the following words to each other :

"Fuck me, could they have fitted any more dried chillies in this?"

Beautiful, tender lean lamb, beansprouts, spring onions, explosively fragrant herbs and spicing, and a healthy (okay, probably unhealthy) amount of chilli - we picked out at least twenty dries chillies as we went. It was hot - very hot - but multidimensional too; the heat was well balanced by acidity, saltiness, the natural juice and meaty taste of the lamb and the amazing fragrance of the fresh herbs. Both Matt and I wanted to drink all the copious broth between us, but feared for our digestive health the next day.

The beancurd had a lovely texture - not congealed and hard like you sometimes find, but slippery, just holding its shape. Slightly more subtle spicing than the lamb - mercifully - and a dry sauce of minced pork, nuts, chilli, garlic and spring onion. Really good, and a nice partner for the lamb.

We were both surprised by the seabass. Take one seabass, batter it, and deep-fry whole, head, skins, fins and all. Set it on a platter of what I can only describe as a 'proper' sweet and sour sauce, and that fairly describes what we had. The waitress filleted it with two spoons! The bass was fresh and clean-tasting; the sauce pungent yet not acrid, like so many takeaway sauces; the batter was crisp and light, and we were impressed.

We were both ravenous, and did justice to the food. With three beers each, egg-fried rice and noodles, the bill came to less than 50 quid for the pair.

If you haven't been, go. Seriously, I'd trade all the crappy mediterranean places in Manchester for this one little gem. It was absolutely heaving (we had to wait ten minutes for a table) and westerners were outnumbered by the local chinese by 3:1.

Edited by culinary bear (log)

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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That's fantastic CB, I'm really glad you enjoyed it.

I have to say, your post eloquently nailed the main point about the lamb dish which is the fact you will wolf the whole lot in spite of the crazy chilli heat.

When I last ate it the spice was intense, and to be honest I was sat there with my chopsticks not quite sure how I was going to eat another mouthful (delicious though it was).

But, you do go back, again and again and again. What I found amazing was how the immense up front heat was completely balanced by the complexity of other flavours in the broth. I don't know how it works, but the stucture of the dish just keeps the fire at arms length, even though you certainly know it's there.

Very clever, and very delicious.

The seabass dish sounds spot on. Thats one on the list for next time then.

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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