[Manchester, city centre] Little Yang Sing

I have a prejudice against restaurants in basements. They just never seem quite as good as you hope they’ll be (or as good as they think of themselves). Irrational, yes – but based on some experience. The Little Yang Sing is my exception that proves the rule. There’s good service, generally delivered with a smile (not a given in Chinatown), a decent menu that covers most of our bases and, for sure, nice food. Oh, and crockery comes properly warmed through, so your food isn’t going to go cold as soon as you look at it. Currently, probably the best place in Chinatown.

Starters came from the dim sum section of the menu. We’ve had the har kau before and rate it quite highly – the prawn filling nicely steamed through without any detriment to the texture of the wrapper. A new one for us was war tip – another dumpling, this time shaped like a small pasty and filled with pork. It’s very lightly fried, so the wrapper goes crispy in parts. They serve a very simple dipping sauce – just Chinese black vinegar enhanced with a few shreds of ginger.

We generally don’t care if something may not be “authentic” but we do care that it’s tasty. And Kung Po vegetables are very tasty. Good mix of veg including carrot, pak choi, Chinese lettuce, water chestnuts and peanuts. And a hot, slightly sweet, sauce that wouldn’t have been out of place in a very authentic Gong Bao dish in our favourite Sichuan restaurant. The other main was OK, but only OK. Described as “chicken in a satay and peanut sauce”, the dish was only on nodding terms with peanuts but the sauce was pleasantly savoury and had quite a chilli hit to it. There’s sliced chicken, onion and green pepper. We shared an order of steamed rice which was nice and fluffy.

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Wor tip is this part-pan-fried/part-steamed dumpling of Shanghainese origin - which was probably why you’d never had seen it before, as dim sum are generally of Cantonese origin, with a different food culture.

Geographically, the two regions are pretty far apart - the distance from Canton/Guangzhou to Shanghai is about 1,434 km. Comparatively, the distance from London to Marseille is 1,246 km.

Thanks for the explanation, Peter.

I know what I’m trying as a main course next time. There was a guy on the next table eating something that looked fab. It’d come in a metal casserole dish. I asked the server what it was and she pointedto the “specials” menu where it was listed as “pork in a slightly spicy sauce”. As we were leaving, I asked the guy if it tasted as good as it looked - all dark gnarly bits of piggy. It did.

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Now you’ve gotten me all curious about which dish it could possibly be. :joy:

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Unfortunately, they don’t have their specials menu online (although I think the specials of the day are the specials of every day). Can’t recall if that menu is also writen in Chinese characters. I’ll try and remember to take a photo if it is and see if that makes any sense to you.

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Yes, the Chinese restaurants in the West have this habit of having a Chinese menu, with more authentic dishes which are not available in the menu given to Western/non-Chinese diners. I remembered a time I was in Cologne where, after 2 weeks of Teutonic fare, 3 Singaporean colleagues and I walked into Tchang, Cologne’s oldest Chinese restaurant for lunch. We wanted something Oriental for a change.

The restaurant was packed. The proprietress, who’s Taiwanese, came over and chatted with us in Mandarin, and offered to cook for us dishes “off the menu” as she said “we won’t eat the things on the menu, which are really meant for locals”. I remembered we waited & waited for our food whilst other tables had their food served pretty promptly - obviously, the chef had to cook dishes which are out of his usual repertoire for our order.

The funny thing that will always stick in my mind was - the moment our orders came (after about 45 minutes) to our table - a hush fell over the restaurant and we could distinctively “feel” 60 pairs of eyes from the other tables looking at our food. Methink the Germans were curious as to what we ordered. :joy:

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