[Manchester, city centre] Hunan

I’ve enjoyed food at this Chinatown restaurant, in the past. Unsurprisingly, there’s a good range of Hunanese dishes (the Chairman Mao braised pork is a belter), so it was probably a bit of mistake to order from the special lunch menu (two courses for nine quid). Bit of a mistake because it’s mainly dishes from their Cantonese menu which, no doubt, is much more familiar to its Anglo diners. Speaking of Anglo diners, it wasn’t busy but I was the only Anglo. Now, I am not one who says that if there’s Chinese customers, it must be a good Chinese restaurant – if ethnicity amongst customers was any indication of quality, then Harvesters would have Michelin stars. But I should have looked round and taken more note of the fact that all the Chinese customers were having something in either clay pots or hotpot dishes, the latter kept warm over burners. Lesson learned there!

As it was, spring rolls were fine – crisp and nicely filled with veg and pork and served with a pleasant sweetish dipping sauce. Just about the only main course that didn’t sound Cantonese was Hunan style pork belly, so that was an easy order. It comes as very long braised, quite gelatinous, cubes of piggy, along with peppers and aubergines, with a scattering of still crisp spring onions thrown in at the last minute. There’s an indeterminate, savoury sauce and big chunks of garlic. Lots of chunks of garlic – there may be no snogging going on for a while. Everything is OK but nothing is really great – decent enough lunch though.

Also worthy of mention is that they have clean, hygienic bogs – not always a given in Chinatown. You’d like to think that indicated a commitment to good practice – but the “scores on the doors” national environmental health website current gives them a zero. Had I known that in advance, I might have gone elsewhere.

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