[Manchester, city centre] Glamorous

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Glamorous so busy in an evening. As usual, most customers were Chinese, with a scattering of Anglos. Now, of course, a high percentage of customers from an ethnic background doesn’t guarantee quality. If it did, Harvesters would have Michelin stars. But it’s not a bad starting point. And Glamorous is the only Cantonese restaurant that we visit with any regularity (and, even then, not that often).

There were king prawns to start. Eight of them, coated in a light but crisp batter. There’s a smear of a Chinese “satay” sauce. This isn’t the peanutty sauce that you’d find in, say, an Indonesian restaurant. But it is very savoury. And very hot from chilli. I followed that with dish of duck and plum sauce that I’ve had before. It’s good. A generous serving of a duck breast, coated in batter and deepfried before being sliced thickly. The sauce wasn’t as good as I recalled from a couple of years back. Less fruity and a bit of a feeling that a jar had been opened, rather than any real cooking going on. I still managed to hoover everything up, along with fried rice.

Meanwhile, Veggie Vera had started with spring rolls – crisp and flavoursome from shitake mushroom with a nice vinegary dipping sauce. That was followed with a vegetarian version of the Hong Kong classic of Singapore noodles. It may not have been the best dining decision of the month. It was mainly noodles, more than you might have thought there would be. And only a small amount of veg in it – bean sprouts, green pepper and spring onion. It was just boring and quite a bit of it was left (to be boxed up as a doggy bag).

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It’s always disappointing when a place advertises a vegetarian option which turns out to be just the meat version with the meat taken out.

I find Persian restaurants are often very guilty of this. My local one is great if you eat meat (which I do), but I’ve learned never to order vegetarian — a grilled vegetable kebab main course arrived as a huge portion of rice with two or three pieces each of aubergine and courgette, along with loads of grilled onion and a spoonful of tomato sauce, while vegetarian fesenjan was literally just the sauce and some rice.

Have you tried the crabs? Those standard whole crab prep, if they use decent sized and quality crabs, seem to be a great bargain. 14 gbp?!

What crabs do they use over there in Northern Europe?

The roasties and the seafood dishes seem to be much more Cantonese and interesting than the meat side of the house. The meat side seems to be stir fried everything. The crab/ fish chef seems to be more classically Cantonese trained versus the stirfry chef seems to be cooking simpler dishes.

I’m not sure what type crabs we get here in England, but I know they never taste as good to me as the ones from back home in the States. Maybe it’s just me…

June. The crabs we get in the UK is predominantly the brown crab. The ones from Cromer on the Norfolk coast are supposed to be the best and they are very tasty but I think it’s mainly clever marketing.

It’s funny you mentioning crab not being as good over here compared to the States. I think there"s nothing sweeter than our brown crab ( I’d choose it over lobster). I suppose it’s what you’re used to.

I’m with Chris on a UK - USA crab comparision (and also find our brown crab to be much more flavoursome to lobster).

We’re having a week in North Norfolk in the early summer and hope to indulge heavily in crab. I’ve been doing restaurant research and it looks like places do stress the local nature of the catch - so, even though Cromer is the nationally known stuff, the place I like the look of in the village of Wells-Next-The-Sea notes that it’s crab landed there. In fact, that restaurant does a dish of dressed crab and half lobster, so I may be able to affirm my preference.

I think you and John are probably right that the brown crab might be superior to what we get in America. I guess it’s just a matter of my taste buds and what I was used to. That said, I would never turn down a nice crab cocktail here. I’ve been wanting to get up to Cromer for ages to see what the crab there is like. Maybe one of these days…

I’m sure you’ll let us know where the good spots were in North Norfolk. I suppose you won’t be as far south as Norwich or a bit north of it. We were there quite awhile ago and had a terrific meal at a gastropub.

Of course. I’ve already dug out the Good Food Guide and done some Googling, so I’ve got a decent idea of where we want to eat. There’s a couple of Michelin starred places as well as some good looking pubs.

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Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
Credit: Juan Antonio Segal, Flickr