After a couple of pints spicy chinese food always makes a nice change from a curry. Having already been to Red Chilli twice since Christmas I didn't really fancy Sichuan. Still can't make my mind up whether I love or loathe sichuan peppercorns. A home cooking disaster resulting in a mouth-feel something similar to a trip to the dentists for root canal surgery may explain my ambivalence (Tip: when cooking with sichuan peppercorns don't measure them out in tablespoons). A quick search suggested Hunan in Chinatown. A review on Manchester Confidential was generally positive except on the matter of desserts. Having never ever chosen a chinese restaurant on account of pudding we decided to give it a try.
We loved it. The following dishes were ordered:
Countryside style green chilli stir-fried pork
Tender lamb belly hotpot
Stir-fried chinese leaves with chopped salted chillies
Pork and chinese leaf dumplings
Being ravenous we opted for the 'as it comes' method, rather than starter/main. First up the green chilli pork. Searingly hot, salty, meaty, delicious. The lamb or beef version would probably be equally good. The chinese leaves followed swiftly and were also great. The salted chillies were obviously fermented to some extent, lending a slightly funky edge to the dish that worked well with the crisp leaves. The lamb hotpot was splendid, a rich meaty broth with the belly strips and various veggies floating around in it. Some of the belly fat must have been strained off as it wasn't overly fatty.
The dumplings arrived last but not least. Of the sturdy, chewy skinned variety rather than the delicate sort (like the Beijing dumplings at Red Chilli) they were spot on with the accompanying dipping sauce. I usually expect vinegar with this sort of dumpling, which is fine but never adheres to the dumpling. This was thicker and darker (roasted chilli paste, dark soy, vinegar?), giving the skins a fantastic tangy glaze with every dunk.
With boiled rice, 2 beers apiece, chinese tea and a generous tip the total was £50 for two. Service was a bit surly at first but lightened up and was almost chatty by the end. The room is quite smart looking and was fairly busy on a Thursday night.
1st Floor, 19-21 George Street
p.s. photos to follow on future posts