IT’S amazing how restaurants in a highly competitive environment latch on to trends. Veganuary was the biggest recent example. We reluctant flexitarians can all relax a bit now it’s over all… and there are lasting benefits for those who want to eat out vegba. Plant-based dishes are staying on the menu all over he shop. Why, The Botanist chain have even launched a new Vegan Menu just in time for February.
Which brings us to the Chinese New Year. Once upon a day it was just Chinatown celebrating whatever year it was – Monkey, Rooster, Rat, Ox, whatever – plus any offshoots in the suburbs. Now, once Valentine’s Day, is out of the way several non-Chinese eateries are getting in on the act. Inscrutable, eh? Here are five of these New Year celebrations that are the real fortune cookie:
OK, we’re cheating a bit here since this glamorous Spinningfields restaurant/bar figures in our Taste Top 10 Chinese chart. A mite groundbreaking because it is owned by English brothers Adam and Drew Jones, whose interior design inspiration is tattoo art, and the cuisine is Hakkasan-inspited ‘modern’ Chinese. This is evident in their Valentine’s offering, inspired by three romantic tales from Chinese folklore. A decadent three-course sharing menu is available all day on Wednesday, February 14, featuring dishes such as chicken Xiao Long Bao filled with red Thai curry, shallots and coconut, a honey-soy ribeye with sesame and truffle mushroom and sweet mango chicken served with pineapple and yellow bean. £50 a head, including a ‘Love Potion’ sharing cocktail for two. £10 deposit required per person. Call 0161 819 2060 to book.
THIS smart Modern English restaurant, nestled between Chapel Walks and King Street, seems an unlikely celebrant of the Year of the Dog… and they really are going the whole Dog! with a Chinese New Year gift and prize offer for diners until the end of February. Prizes include a luxury overnight spa break, gin tastings, free cocktails, tasting menu experiences, discounts and lunch from the new Small Plate menu. Star prize is undoubtedly that spa break at Losehill House Hotel & Spa in Derbyshire, which is also owned by Grafene’s Paul and Kathryn Roden.
Guests paying for lunch or dinner at Grafene from February 8-28 will receive a red prize envelope – red symbolising good fortune and joy in Chinese culture, of course. Inside each envelope, a card explaining the prize diners have won, and every card is a winner. One prize per booking, full details and t/cs here.
THE Chinese love their fish and Manchester’s premier fish restaurant is returning the favour on Saturday, February 17 with a special menu offering six rock oysters Shanghai style (£14), crispy duck salad with hoisin dressing and brown shrimps (£12.50) and Singapore chilli crab with watercress, cashew and watermelon salad (£23.50). Enterprising as ever, they’v even printed their entire menu in Chinese on their website. Book here.
IT’S the Year of the Black Dog, well just the weekend actually (Thu Feb 15- Sun Feb 18) when, in conjunction with Meat Lust, they are running a Chinese feast menu across all their sites – including Black Dog Ballroom NQ and New Wakefield Street and Dog Bowl, Whitworth Street West. It follows the success of last year’s ‘Sauce and the City' tour of Manchester with TV culinary star Adam Richman.
All four dishes on the New Year menu use Meat Lust brand sauces to fuse Asian flavours. – hot dog shitake and ginger stir fry, topped off with coriander and Meat Lust BBQ Mop, accompanied with an Asian coleslaw and Green Chilli Mayo; marinated glazed pork char siu burger with fried crispy onion and beansprouts, served with a choice of sauces; fiery blast shrimp bomb Ghost Chilli Mayo; and finally, the veggie option, crispy salt and pepper tofu salad, tossed in Chinese BBQ flavour and sesame dressing.
IT’s not just the Chinese, who celebrate the Lunar New Year around this time; the Vietnamese too. And that delicious cuisine’s Manchester outpost, Pho, in the Corn Exchange, is joining the big party. On the first day of the Vietnamese New Year, Friday February 16, Pho are giving out special red envelopes at random with gifts inside including complimentary meals, free bowls of pho (noodle broth) for next time, and the luckiest will get their hands on Pho VIP cards, giving 50% off food all year. And what food! For those who can survive without dumplings and dim sum the menu makes a perfect alternative New Year feast with the likes of crispy spring rolls, baby squid, spicy chicken wings and noodle soups accompanied by some decidedly exotic cocktails.