Wednesday, 29 May 2013

I Am Pho - Chinatown, Manchester, England.

There has not been much new as far as east Asian food is concerned in the restaurants of Manchester over the last few years. However, here is one… I am Pho is the name of the first ever Pho (Vietnamese Beef Soup Noodles) restaurant in Manchester. There has always been a large Vietnamese community in Manchester, and I have always wondered why a place like this has not sprung up sooner.

Anyway, I have decided to give this place a try last month. It was located in Chinatown, next to the strip club, so if you go in the evenings, don’t let the sight of the burly bouncers put you off.

One word of warning … do not park your car outside the strip club. The bouncers will lean and sit on it. Because they look big and mean, they know no one will tell them off and they don’t care that they annoy the car owners.

Once in the restaurant you will notice that the layout was more like a café than a restaurant, but that is fine, because it felt clean and comfortable. However, the prices were not café prices. You could go to most Chinatown restaurants and order most noodle dishes at around the same price… about the £7.50 mark.

On the table is a range of good quality sauces and dips.

Of course, I ordered the signature dish, beef pho -  with the beef rare, so that it is cooked in the soup. There were other dishes on the menu but 80% of them were a variation of the pho soup noodles, with a few rice dishes and the customary Vietnamese summer / spring rolls as sides.

The verdict:
The soup was light … very light. It tasted refreshing but lacked flavour, as if it was a little bit too diluted or not enough beef was used in the stock.
The noodles were fresh as opposed to the dry / reconstituted type, which is better than the only other Pho in tried in Manchester, in a café in Ancoats.
The beef were sliced thicker than I would have liked it, making it slightly tough. They (the beef) somehow tasted rather detached from the soup .. hard to explain, but you know the taste you get when you feel that the ingredients do not belong to the dish because the taste is too different? Maybe this is because of the lack of beefy taste in the soup.

The portion was generous and adequate for most hungry diners. I would return if I needed another pho fix, but not too often as I do not think this is good value. I think under £5 would have been a fair price for this dish which does not consist of any expensive ingredients. 

Monday, 8 August 2011

FOOD PORN: A visual delight!

About time for another trip to Malaysia! My blogs have been sporadic over the last couple of years mainly due to lifestyle changes and also laziness! During that time, I have never stopped taking pictures of food wherever I went and I will take this opportunity to post a mixture of images from previous trips to Malaysia dating back to 2009.

If you are an experienced blogger, perhaps you can advise on how I can make the process easier and quicker so that I can update more frequently. At the moment, I find the process quite laborious.... What I do now is:
1. I load each photo into photoshop to resize it (otherwise, 5mb per image will take too long to load!)
2. Then I upload them to
3. Then I write my blog
4. Then I click on each thumbnail of the photo I uploaded into imageshack and copy the url tag and paste it into the html code of the blog I am writing. I can only do this one at a time as imageshack does not display ALL the html tags on one page. If I can find a way of displaying all the tags on one page, it will make life a lot easier!
5. Once done, I save it and publish the blog.

So, if anyone can make this process easier, I will be able to upload more updates in the future.

Below is an Esquire Kitchen special - Kung Po Chicken. A "must have" whenever I eat there.
1-Utama branch.
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A steamed pomfret at Oversea Restaurant @ Asiajaya, PJ. Fresh but quite bland as it lacked seasoning.
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A Yook Woo Hin (Petaling Street - Chinatown KL) speciality - Char Siu. You won't find much better in the city.
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Another Yook Woo Hin dish - Beef ho fun. Absolutely delicious! Super tender slices of beef in a rich egg sauce over a bed of smooth flat rice noodles.
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The two pics below are the display shelves at Jin Xuan Hong Kong Dim Sum @ Damansara Jaya.
See my full review here.
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This lovely Sang Har Meen was taken at Paramount cafe at Sungei Wang Plaza. I found out about this place from Lyrical Lemongrass' blog here.
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The two pics below were taken @ Uncle Duck restaurant @ Berjaya Times Square in KL. Considering the name, the duck was decidedly average and the black bean beef ho fun was one of the worst I ever tasted!
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4 dishes from Sri Suria cafe in Amcorp Mall in PJ. All looked lovely, but tasted worse than most hawker vendors. Worst of all, two out of the five of us who ate there had diarrhea the next day! Not a busy restaurant even on s Sunday, so the food must have been not too fresh.
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Nasi Lemak - probably their best dish.
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Fried Rice - bland but looked nice!
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Chow Kuey Teow - terrible! No wok-hei .. must've been fried in a skillet!
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Wonton Noodle soup - again, bland!
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This was my half eaten lunch at Lumut bus station. Beef Rendang and water spinach. Cost a lot less than in KL and tasted very nice!
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Friday, 5 August 2011

Sapporo Teppanyaki, Manchester

This was the first time I had ever been to a Teppanyaki restaurant in the UK. Its only my second time in a UK Japanese restaurant. The first was an awful experience 10 years ago and it had put me off them.

On this occassion, it was a works do and I thought it was a good time to try again. The fact that this restaurant was rated the number 1 restaurant on Manchester on Tripadvisor gave me some optimism!

Unlike most city centre oriental restaurants, this one was not located in or around Chinatown, indicating to me immediately that they cater mainly for western diners. When I saw the menu, my thoughts were confirmed. I was a bit disappointed that there was no squid in the menu, but understandable as it is not a popular ingredient among Brits.

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However, as the evening progressed, the whole dining experience was rather interesting. It was not like anything I had ever experienced before. But before that our starters arrived. I had a rather large portion of bbq spare ribs. Unlike your typical Chinese restaurant ribs, these were really tender and succulent. I suspect they have been twice cooked .... steamed and then baked. Great start so far.

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Before the chefs began cooking our meals they went throught a few unusual rituals, which were very entertaining and engaging for the diners. However, I am certain there was nothing traditional about them and certainly does not appear to have anything to do with Japanese dining rituals, but please do correct me if I am wrong.

Firstly, the chef heated some scalloped potato slices and tossed them in the air, to each of the diners to catch with their mouth. He will keep trying until you catch it, leading to food all over the floor!

Next, he juggled some of the cooking utensils, like the bartenders in Cocktail juggled bottles. Then, just for show, he lit up the flat pan with some alcohol.

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When it comes to cooking the food, we could see exactly everything they put into it. I kept waiting to see if there was going to be a secret ingredient but there was nothing obvious.

And here is my portion. This alone was £17. To their credit, all the ingredients were super fresh and you could have extra portions of rice if you wanted for free. It may not look much, but I assure you it was more than I could eat.

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I must say however, that the food tasted very home-cooked, and not difficult to reproduce yourself. The flat pan meant that there was no "wok hei" taste in the food. However, I ended the night satisfied enough, as the price we paid was for the entertainment as well as the food. It was definitely worth experiencing, but I dont think it is something you can do on a weekly basis without wearing out the novelty value.

Sapporo Teppanyaki
91 Liverpool Rd
Manchester M3 4JN

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Gordon Ramsay in Malaysia - C4 UK

Last night I watched a fascinating episode of Gordon's Great Escape. In this series, he travels around south east asia to sample the food and learn how to cook some of it from the locals. Along the way, he will feature some bizzarre foods that most people do not consume, at least not in the west.

The episode on Malaysia was perhaps a little bit tame compared to the last couple of episodes due to the lack of unusual food. The only "weird" food featured was a bulls penis curry soup. We did see the harvesting of birds nest, but this was mainly for the export market and its not something commonly found in roadside cafes.

However one amazing revealation I noticed was that Gordon does not appear to know how to cook rice! He had no idea how to use a conventional rice cooker and made a mess of his coconut rice. Who would have thought!!

Gordon pictured struggling with nasi lemak

If you are in the UK, you will be able to watch this online here.

At around the 40 minute mark, you will see him struggle with his rice!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Prawn fried rice

Its been awhile since I blogged but been so busy recently. Here's a quick and simple dish I cooked tonight. Thought that the tiger prawns looked nice in the rice, hence I uploaded this picture. Personally, I think having too many prawns spoil the taste a dish. In future I won't use more than 4 or 5 large ones, and add other ingredients instead to enhance the taste of the rice.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Gong Xi Fa Cai - Happy Chinese New Year 2011

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Have a prosperous and stomach filling new year!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

House Special Chow Mein - Wong Wong Bakery, Manchester

At last I have managed to find a cheap compact mobile phone with a camera AND a battery that lasts up to 2 weeks between charging. Now I can take pictures anywhere I eat and do not have to plan ahead to take my camera with me.

One such occassion was when we were passing a branch of Wong Wong Bakery near Openshaw in Manchester. It was actually a little cafe attached to a Chinese warehouse and serve a limited amount of dishes to a mainly Chinese clientele. Hence their dishes are authentic and near restaurant quality but a bit cheaper.

This is the most expensive dish on their menu coming in at £7 for a large single portion. A stir fired mixture of fish balls, fish cake sliced pork, char siu, siew yook, roask duck, prawns, squid and straw mushroom over a bed of crispy noodles. Taste great and better than some more upmarket restaurtant in Chinatown.

Highly Recommended!