Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Apr 20, 2008 05:15 AM

"Ethnic" restaurants in the UK - the end is nigh? [Moved from U.K./Ireland board]

In the Manchester area, the local Indian restaurant owners association has been raising the issue that the country's current immigration rules are making it all but impossible for chefs from the sub-continent to come and work here. A few have even been saying that the growth of the problem may mean that they will be unable to continue in business.

The problem is country wide, and affecting Chinese and Turkish restaurants as well - see this link to a BBC news item.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Yes - heard this on the news, too, last night. Are we to believe that no one born in the UK of Chinese, sub-continent or Turkish parents doesn't want to ever be a chef? And does this also mean that no Caucasian can cook restaurant standard Chinese or sub-continent food? Do the restaurant owners pay the hefty visa fees of the people they bring over here? It's about £500 a pop (I'm about to get my third!).

    9 Replies
    1. re: zuriga1

      most (=99%) 'indian' chefs here are bangla deshi, so the restaurants aren't missing chefs who know the real deal, just missing friends/family/cheap labour. i'd actually be happy to see these curry house shrink and give actual indians from india a chance - think of a garden which is 99% weeds and you'll see where i'm coming from.

      also, most indians in the uk are here via africa, so the uk link to genuwine indian regional cuisine is tenuous at best.

      and zuriga - aren't you married to a brit? why on earth are you paying these silly visa fees - its ok to be a dual national; i'm a triple: indian, us and brit.

      1. re: howler

        The visa fees are required by the Home Office, Howler. I needed a 'fiancee' one first, then a marriage one and now a permanent resident visa. If you know another way around all this, I'd love to hear it. :-) It has nothing to do with being a national but about the ability to reside in the UK. One just can't move here and stay indefinitely... believe me, I would have happily done that.

        I see your point about the chefs.

        1. re: zuriga1

          wow so bangladeshis = weeds in this example?

            1. re: t_g

              "chefs" ?? ha. "food" ?? ha.

              most so called 'indian' restaurants serve rancid oil bolied cr@p to drunken idiots. for every decent curry i can think of 100 rubbish plates of slop.

              'chinese' food is as bad or worse, generic fried MSG loaded battered everything. close them all down (red chilli on portland street excepted)

              and dont get me started on so called kebab shops. maybe if these emporiums of filth closed down it would be a step towards controlling the obesity epidemic.

              there are of course notable exceptions serving fine ethnic food. in the manchester area for example we have in no particular order - turkish delight, aladdins, dilli, gurkha grill (just gets in) and i am sure many others. (red chilli of course).

              99% are awful and our lives would be enriched by their absence, they cater to a demand and this serves to demonstrates just how far we need to climb out of the gastronomic gutter.

              P.S some of the best food i have ever eaten was during a 3 month tour of india (all vegetarian). what a country, what cuisine.

              1. re: pecandanish

                "P.S some of the best food i have ever eaten was during a 3 month tour of india (all vegetarian). what a country, what cuisine."

                that is exactly right.

        2. re: zuriga1


          I don't know about the national situation (and there aren't many Turkish restaurants in our area). But the issue, as outlined by the local Rusholme Business Association, is two-fold. Rusholme, BTW, is the Manchester suburb with the area's greatest concentration of "curry restaurants" (about 40 in a few hundred yards of one road).

          Firstly, cheffing is not a career of choice for many youngsters of Bangladeshi background. And when it is, they look for a more generic career path rather than going into the low paid end of the industry, such as the "Indian" restaurant. Also, local catering colleges do not specifically teach "ethnic" cooking, so there is a bit of chicken and egg situation here.

          Secondly, the Association says that it has tried to recruit locally - both for kitchen and serving staff, from all communities, without any real success.

          Of course, I agree that most Indian restaurants trot out the same Anglicised menu, in much the same way that most Chinese restaurants trot out an Anglicised version of Cantonese food. Would I be sorry to see them all go? Well, yes, I would be sorry. They fulfill a need and people enjoy going to them. Our "village" has three Indian restaurants and one Chinese . They do good business and I'm a regular customer of two of them.

          Would I like to see better quality and diversity? Of course, I would. There's a definate market for it. Chinese & Indian restaurants are no longer places just to visit after the pubs close - as evidenced by how busy the new more upmarket places in the area are (and how quiet are some of the old Rusholme ones). It would be great if restaurateurs would open Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani or Sri Lankan restaurants serving authentic regional food. Why aren't they?


          1. re: Harters


            I feel out of my league discussing this topic since I've been here such a relatively short time. You're luckier than we are in the choice of local Indian and Chinese. We have only one (very good) Indian and NO Chinese except for a carry-out place. But, we have two Italian places and one Mediterranean, none of which I find very good at all.

            An aside... have written about my Amsterdam experiences if you want to have a look. (Sorry to change the topic, thread police.)

            1. re: zuriga1

              the curry mile is a joke.

              to the best of my knowledge there isnt a single decent curry available in rushholme, its a sight to drive through because it has a piontless plastic vegas cruddiness about it. the food is appaling and all form the same slop bucket.

              it is fun to wander through during ede as there is a boisterousness and levity permeating the atmosphere but dont eat there unless you want your bowels working over.

              there arent many true ethnic restaurants because the demand doesnt really exist, certainly not outside london. take the example of the patak family owned place with the delhi oberoi hilton chef which opened in hale and promptly sank without a trace. with all the money sloshing round hale. its name eludes me because it was only open for the blink of an eye.

              we get what we deserve and we obviously deserve cr@p.