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Sep 17, 2012 02:19 PM

[Manchester, city centre] Wings

The original Wings was in Cheadle Hulme and I remember good Cantonese food there. But, in spite of it moving to the city centre some years ago, this is the first time we’ve been to the new place. They didn’t get off to the best of starts with me – the website describes them as being “one of the very few 5 star restaurants in Manchester”. Without any attribution, this can only be their own bit of meaningless puffery. However, once you get yourself past that, you find that you’ve got a very elegant restaurant, with excellent staff and a good looking menu that, unlike the identikit places in Chinatown, manages to keep the offerings down to only few pages. Oh, yes, and the food’s bloody good.

There’s prawn crackers to nibble on with an aperitif and a couple of nice things to dip them into – one a sweet soy mix and the other a very poky thick chilli affair.

We kicked off with a couple of mixed dim sum platters. One offering steamed items – the more obvious har kau and sui mai along with a lovely scallop dumpling and chei chow fun kor ( I had to look that one up afterwards to find it’s a meat and nut dumpling). The other plate was more suited to my partner’s vegetarian leanings whenever she’s in an east asian place – and was the better of the two. There was a mix of steamed dumplings with a couple of fried items so texture was more interesting.

Unusually, she chose a meat main course – crispy chilli shredded fillet steak. A lovely dish with thin strips of steak and a touch of a sweetish, chilli sauce clinging to the meat, much as a toffee apple gets its crispness from the sweet coating.

I was intrigued by the Hakka yam and belly pork hotpot, apparently a well known traditional dish of the Hakka people in Guangdong. Truth be told, I wasn’t that keen on it. Certainly the pork was good and the sauce was good. But it was the yam that let it down for – somewhat bland and a very soft texture that easily fell off the chop sticks and ended up dissolving into the sauce, turning it into something of a sludge,. Maybe that’s what’s supposed to happen.

We took a side order of vegetables in garlic sauce. Nice crisp pak choy but insufficient garlic sauce to make it zing. Needless to say, rice was good.

Unlike many of the places in Chinatown, there were no Chinese folk eating. I guess ethnic diners are not what Wings is about. Doesnt mean that there isn’t good food there. Doesn’t mean that at all. I reckon this is probably the best Cantonese in the city centre – in my opinion, of course.

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  1. Great and useful review as always, Harters.

    1. I'm in Manchester in a couple of weeks on a Saturday night and had been thinking of going for chinese rather than any of the central fine dining options. Would this be your pick, or would you go for something non-cantonese? I'm pretty Chinese omnivorous...

      2 Replies
      1. re: lacemaker

        If you can lean in a Korean direction, I've had a couple of good meals at Ban di Bul...

        1. re: lacemaker

          Would certainly be my new pick for Cantonese (replacing Glamorous on Oldham Road).

          Although my overall pick would be the Sichuan/Hunan "Middle Kingdom" just on the edge of the city centre on Princess Street. Good food. I see they have a new website which, irritatingly, also makes claims to be "5 star". WTF?
          . We felt almost unique whenh we were there. Not only were we the only Anglos but we were old enough to be everyone's grandparents.

          I'm also a fan of Red & Hot in Chinatown which, for me, just sneaks it over the more popular Red Chilli - although that is not to diss Red Chilli.
          (Post #26 -

        2. I *love* Hakka belly-pork & yam hotpot. And no - the yam is NOT supposed to be that mushy: the chef obviously overcooked it. The correct texture should be similar to potatoes in gratin Dauphinois.

          4 Replies
          1. re: klyeoh

            Thanks for the reassurance - it was way softer than a Dauphinois. No bite to it at all. I'm not going to diss it as it all tasted bloody good.

            1. re: Harters

              Still, no excuse for the chef offering you an overcooked dish which could turn sludgy. Over here in Singapore, this will get sent back to the kitchen. A good Hakka pork belly and yam dish should maintain its shape, whilst still having a melt-in-the-mouth-tender texture. I want to make sure you don't get short-changed the next time.

              1. re: Harters

                Did the belly pork and yam (taro) dish at least look something like one of these?

                1. re: huiray

                  Yes, in so far as the pork and yam were interleaved. But there was a lot more sauce, which was quite soupy - not that I'm criticising the sauce as such - it tasted great.