[All Saints, Manchester] Azuma

I’m always excited when we go to a restaurant for the first time. And this was a restaurant that had been recommended to us by a chef. He’d taken his staff there as he’d heard it was the best Sichuan food in the area. And he agreed it was. It’s fair to say that Azuma has a bit of an issue with identity. Its main menu is broadly Sichuan. But there’s Cantonese dishes on there as well. And, separately, there are menus for hotpots and Korean BBQ. We stuck with the Sichuan as it also seemed everyone else was doing – and everyone else was East Asian.

We ordered three dishes for the two of us and asked for them to be brought as & when they were ready as we were going to share. Cucumber salad is a classic starter, although it works well as a cooling influence if eaten alongside spicier dishes. That’s not to say that it isn’t spicy in itself. Here, it’s just in thick slices, rather than the lightly smashed version you usually see. But there’s still garlic, sesame oil, vinegar and, most importantly, Sichuan peppercorns. There was another cold dish in the form of green beans in a ginger sauce. We’d not appreciated that it was going to be cold and had ordered it as a change from the classic green beans with pork. Again, pleasant enough with flavour of ginger coming through but a bit of a disppointment. Our final dish was gong bao chicken. That’s something we’d always order in a new Sichuan place as I suppose it’s our “benchmark dish”. We’ve eaten good ones and bad ones. This was somewhere in between. Perfectly OK but just missing the poky spice level of, say, Red Chilli.

Service was fine and staff seemed interested to know that we were enjoying the food. And if we needed knives and forks instead of the chopsticks (we didn’t). The restaurant is in university land, so I reckon a couple of Anglo pensioners were fairly unusual customers and that might have singled us out for special attention. It was a nice touch whatever.

So, in summary, we had a nice dinner. But we really only need one Sichuan place on our list of places we visit regularly. And there was nothing to convince us this was better than our current regular place.


And it’s got a Japanese name. :joy:

Exactly! Before I clicked the thread, I was thinking of reading a Japanese restaurant, somehow the disorientation started there…

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