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Is this a Chinese (possibly Sichuan) or Korean place in Liverpool - or a mixture? Need help from the experts!

The other day I noticed a basic cafe which I've not seen before in Liverpool, by the university (Myrtle Parade, for any Liverpool people who may be reading this), and it looks intriguing. At first I thought it was Chinese, but the menu is far from being the usual stuff.

There's no name in English above the door, nor on the menu I took away with me. The menu looks interesting, but I can't tell where the chef/s is/are from, as it seems a bit mixed.

There are quite a few very hot dishes (well, they have three chillis next to them), such as "sliced pork tripe in chilli and garlic sauce", "spicy fried rice cake" and "fish in chopped pepper sauce". Are these likely to be Sichuan dishes? I don't recognise them from the relatively basic knowledge I have of Sichuan food. There is a "tan tan noodle" dish - is that a bad translation or spelling mistake for Dan Dan noodles?

Then there are dishes which look like they may be Korean or even Japanese - "Bibimbap" and some stew and rice dishes, as well as a miso soup.

Some of the more unusual dishes include:

- Cold piled bean curd skin salad
- Diced beef with potato in soy sauce over rice
- Stewed pork with taro over rice
- Handmade patch in casserole
- deep fried pork hock with soaked pancake
- hot and spicey mudsnail

There are also some dim sum and a list of congee dishes.

What is this place?!

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  1. Oh, yes, I'm really gagging for the mudsnail, Theresa.

    Sounds to me the sort of queer gear you'd see on a Sichuan or Hunan menu. But, hey, my knowledge of astrophysics is probably greater than my knowledge of Sichuan/Hunan food. And, no, I wasnt an astrophysicist before I retired.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Harters

      Yeah - gagging being the operative word ... While I am very tempted to try this place, I think that mudsnails have some work to do in the marketing department. I think that "cold piled bean curd skin salad" also sounds like it could do with a rebrand :o)

    2. I would assume it is very poor translation of the dishes into English so impossible to tell without eating them. If it is Sichuan the Korean ones may simply be what thy think the names should be in English. Can you scan the non-English name - it is easy to see what language it is written in.

      8 Replies
      1. re: PhilD

        I'll give it try later on - but I think our scanner is caput.

        I'm pretty sure that it is Chinese rather than Korean though - it was only the bibimbap dish that threw me - but that's the only one which sounds definitely Korean.

        I've done a bit more research on some of the dishes - there are a couple of "stewed spine" dishes, and that seems to come from Xi'an in the Shaanxi province of China. It shares one of its borders with Sichuan, and is in the central/eastern part of the country - still a long way from Korea, but not a million miles - so maybe they are from that region?

        1. re: PhilD

          OK - strangely, I googled one of their dishes, and only one option came up - and it's a link to the cafe's page on Eatmeal. It's called Lao Wei Dao - this is the link with the full menu in English and its name in (probably) Chinese.


          1. re: Theresa

            Don't suppose the reference to "Lao" in the name, suggests it's Laotian (sp?)

            1. re: Harters

              I wondered about that, but I think (courtesy of Google) that Lao Wei Dao means "a taste of nostalgia" in Chinese ... and it seems to particularly refer to food. So, following my research, I reckon they are from the Shaanxi province, and are aiming to provide traditional foods from there and perhaps the neighbouring province of Sichuan, along with one or two Japanese and/or Korean dishes ...

              We need that true ferret of the unusual - JFores!

              1. re: Theresa

                JFores - WHERE ARE YOU?!!!

                BTW, Theresa, why don't you just go in and ask the restaurant folks? I'm sure they'll be more than happy to explain.

                Once, I was in Heidelberg, Germany, and my local colleagues told me they couldn't figure out if a popular eatery on the town's Hauptstrasse called "Mr Whang" (don't laugh) was Chinese, Japanese or Korean - because it offered dishes from all 3 countries, all done pretty well, too - to suit Teutonic tastes. All those years of patronage, and none of them deigned to ask. Anyway, I walked in there one evening, and old Mr Whang himself came up to me and spoke in Korean! I couldn't speak any Korean (except to name food items, and basic phrases) whereas Mr Whang couldn't speak any English/Chinese/Japanese, so we ended up conversing in German.

                Anyway, from your initial description of the food at Lao Wei Dao - it's North-Eastern Chinese cuisine. 'Dan dan' noodles (noodles are called 'mien' in Mandarin) is pronounced 'tan tan mien', so they used the old spelling - the way it should be pronounced phonetically, rather than the confusing 'hanyu pinyin'-style of spelling which is confusing to Westerners/non-Mandarin speakers who're unfamiliar with the script.

                1. re: klyeoh

                  Thanks for your input! NE China would certainly take it nearer Korea ... and Shaanxi Province is Eastern/central, so maybe a mix of food from several neighbouring areas.

                  I did try to ask them more about the food when I went in and picked up the menu - but the bloke I spoke to could barely speak any English. I'm thinking I'll get a takeaway soon and see if someone else there can tell me more.

                  1. re: Theresa

                    The characters are Chinese in the name not Korean. It is also worth remembering most restaurants in China don't have narrow regional menus, they may have a strong regional slant but they will still feature popular dishes from other regions. I was at a HK/Cantonese specialist place in Beijing recently, and the team ordered Sichuan and Shanghainese dishes amongst all the Cantonese food. So no surprise a UK place has a mixed menu.

              2. re: Harters

                From Theresa's link, the restaurant's name, "Lao Wei Dao" is 老味道 (look at the 'icon' at the top left just under the "em eatmeal") [Yale Cantonese: lou5 mei6 dou6] which basically means "old/traditional taste", what your friend essentially said. It does not mean Laotian, sorry. :-) ["Lao" is 老, which is "old"]

          2. A good e-friend from the Home Cooking board tells me "The name is "The Way of Old Taste", subtitled "Home village flavors". I'd venture to say it's Liaoning food, the province that abuts North Korea (or that neck of the woods).The dishes cited sound very northeastern to me, with some Sichuan thrown in for good measure..."

            Sounds well worth a punt, although maybe not for the mudsnail.

            1. It could be Korean Chinese from the Korean autonomous region or Dongbei. New York has a lot of those places now.

              2 Replies
              1. re: JFores

                Have you had a look at the menu? I'd be interested to know what you think, as you seem to have a good handle on obscure regional Chinese cooking!


                It's only a very basic cafe, so doesn't have a website, but it's recently signed up to this new delivery business, so the menu is up there.

                Thanks to all for your ideas and research - I'm hoping to try it out tonight. I'll report back.

                1. re: Theresa

                  Yeah. Bibimbap and spicy fried rice cake on a menu with Northern stuff like tofu skin screams Korean Chinese.

              2. Well, we got a takeaway last night, but I wasn't sure.

                We ordered spine stew with pickled cabbage, honey roast pork with rice and hot and spicy Chinese greens.

                I gave my husband a hard time for ordering what I thought was, basically, char sui pork, but he went ahead anyway... Both main dishes were a bit disappointing though. They were a bit bland, and the spine stew was very watery. The pork was belly, and the meat was very tasty, but the sauce which coated the rice was also very bland.

                Nothing was actively bad, but I was disappointed with the overall lack of flavour. The Chinese greens dish was quite good - nice sesame oil flavour and a slight chilli kick, but - for a 3 chilli symbol - was not spicy at all. It was less bland/watery than the other dishes though. When I compare it to the Sichuan place we often go to in China Town, the dishes just don't have the same depth of flavour.

                I maybe missing something though - are these dishes supposed to be like this? The meat on the spine was very tender and had a decent flavour, but the "sauce" was very watery. I want to go back and try a few other dishes, as I think it's worth another go.

                1. It looks like the owners may be from Manchuria (Northeastern China) but have a smattering of other regional dishes on their menu. Sort of all things to all visitors - so no one goes away disappointed. The Tan Tan Noodles look to be their version of Sichuan Dan Dan Noodles (擔擔麵dàn dàn miàn) and the Honey Pork appears to be the Cantonese version of Roast BBQ Pork. A feature of Manchurian cuisine is having lots of pickled vegetables (which they have) but none of the popular dumplings.

                  1. The various suggestions of Dongbei/Manchuria/NE China sounds right to me as well; many Dongbei places also several somewhat hearty variants of Sichuan cooking, at least the ones I've encountered in the UK.

                    But it's kinda tricky to guess sometimes because the English translations are often non-standard and hard to tell which dish they really are.

                    Looking at the menu, I'm guessing that the sliced pork in garlic sauce is suan4 ni2 bai2 rou4, a Sichuan dish of sliced fatty pork with lots of garlic (suan4 ni2 = garlic mud i.e. lots of finely chopped garlic).

                    The Tripe in Chilli and Garlic Sauce might be fu1 qi1 fei4 piano aka husband and wife, also Sichuan -- sliced tripe and ox meat.

                    Don't know that much about the fried rice cake...might be dduk bok ki, a Korean dish, but it's a guess.

                    For the fish in chopped pepper sauce, do you know if it's peppercorns or chilli peppers? If the latter, it sounds a bit like a Hunanese dish.

                    The dim sum items seem rather Northen Chinese as well.

                    If you go with a few people, the hot pot might be worth trying. (Again, another sign of Northern or Northeastern leanings.)

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: limster

                      The wierd thing about the so-called hot pot dishes is that they are all between 80p and £1.20. So there's no way they can be a main meal. I asked the woman serving what they were, but she didn't really understand me, and she doesn't speak much English. The most I could get from our conversation was that they were very hot. So, because of the price, I was assuming they are a Chinese take on sambal - but then there are some which are described as sliced lamb or beef - which doesn't seem to suggest a small sambal/chilli sauce type side dish.

                      1. re: Theresa

                        Those are individual plates of items for you to put into the hotpot, Theresa. A Chinese hotpot is a communal dish of sorts, like a fondue. Normally, you'd order between 5-10 different items - small plates of meats, vegetables, tofu & other stuff.

                        A Chongqing/Sichuanese hotpot will have extremely spicy stock, and the one you described above sounded like it - I really don't think you'll like it, and the woman was probably right in cautioning you. The soup stock of a Sichuan hotpot is a potent mix of fresh chilis, dried chilis, Sichuan peppercorns & other aromatics. The last time I had a Sichuanese hotpot, I felt like my entire mouth has been anesthetized after 5 minutes - you can run a skewer thru my cheeks and tongue and I wouldn't have felt a thing!

                        A more detailed description (plus photos) of a Sichuan hotpot: how to prepare, cook & consume one here:

                        1. re: klyeoh

                          Oh, I'm already a big fan of mind blowingly hot Sichuan hotpots - and I love the sheer depth of flavour. I'll have to try the "build your own hotpot" at this cafe some time - my main worry is that, judging by the blandness of the three dishes we tried, it may not be that good.

                        2. re: Theresa


                          Next time you're in Manchester and perhaps wanting to try the hotpot as klyeoh describes, then you'll want Red & Hot in Chinatown. I've not tried it as it's clearly the sort of dish that needs a small party to be enjoying it and I'm normally solo there. Reason for recommending this place is that each table is fitted with its own built-in electric hotpalte. 'Tis very popular with the Chinese students who make most of the lunchtime diners.

                          1. re: Harters

                            I've been to the other Sichuan one in Manchester - the one that was the original favourite - I can't remember the name. But we've been to a Sichuan place in Liverpool lots of times - I've mentioned it on here before. It has a bog standard menu and a smaller Sichuan one. The hot pot is a thing of beauty. Once, it was so hot, I could feel my brains boiling, and I had to give up, but, while it is usually searingly hot, you can still get the flavours.

                            1. re: Theresa

                              That would be Red Chilli. It has a couple of good dishes - pork with green beans and a braised belly pork with preserved cabbage. There's a poached lamb dish that gets a lot of mention on local boards, but, frankly, I find it much too hot.

                              1. re: Harters

                                Yep - that lamb dish is the hot pot I love - although I prefer it with beef. I enjoyed the one in Red Chilli, but I think Chilli Chilli in Liverpool does it better. The first time I had it, it was a revelation - I'd never had Chinese food like it, and I've never looked back :o)