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A Little Bit Of Everything
Tai Pan (Manchester)
Member Name: topsyturvy
Tai Pan (Manchester)
Advantages: nice selection, good service
Having moved down from Scotland to England I have a different idea of Chinese food as here. The reason being as the restaurants usually make it more to the tastes of the majority in the area and there are certain things I find hard to order down here compared to at home. The sweet & sour chicken and everything is the same but things like lemon chicken and chicken chow mein are hard to find cooked just right so I have now been trying for two years to find a really nice restaurant and the other day I think I might have just found one that is really nice. I don't mind the buffet places where you pick what you like and eat as much as you like but to just order a dish is a different story.
My sister lives quite near to a Chinese cash and carry but it wasn't until recently when one of my friends who is Chinese actually pointed out that there is a restaurant next door that my curiosity got the better of me. I went with a group of friends to try it out here but we went on the Monday-Thursday part of the menu from 2-5pm it is a discount which I am sure is half price. They are normally open before these hours but it will cost full price.
So, we waited until 2pm and then walked in. Instantly we were greeted with a warm well presented environment which was very traditional Chinese, with the fish paintings and the flowers on mahogany furniture and the red carpet with many lanterns and it was really pretty in here, a wave of culture hit me. A lot of the diners were also of Chinese descent which I always find a good thing at a Chinese restaurant as this must mean the food is good, I mean that in the best way possible. The place was very busy which is also another good sign as this means the food must be good also and so I got to my seat and we sat down and picked up our menus.
The menu is in its Chinese name and in brackets has a description of what it is in case you don't know what it means but luckily my friend explained everything to me. There were only chopsticks on the table which made me panic as I am definitely not a skilled eater with chop sticks but I felt embarrassed to ask for a fork as no one in the restaurant was using anything but chopsticks, however the waiter didn't seem to mind at all.
The menu I cannot remember the exact names but a few of the things I ordered I will state, it is called Dim Sum which is like a lunch and this is like tapas but for Chinese food when you order small dishes of everything to taste a wide range of everything rather than sticking to your usual one dish. We ordered a mixture of things from turnip pancakes, won tons, spring rolls, steamed dumplings with all kinds of fillings, pork rolls, and rice balls wrapped in leaves, a huge bowl of beef noodles, battered squid and dip.
The good thing is as soon as you order they leave the list on the table and these all roughly cost about £3.50 per dish. The waiter then starts bringing them out as soon as they are ready; first the majority of fried dim sum dishes came first. Once eaten, they were taken away and then the other dishes came and lastly the steamed dishes came. They came in a huge bamboo plate tower so that the tower of stacked dishes were laid on the table separately to then become four different plates, it was very well done. The steamed dumplings were unusual for me as I hadn't tried them before but they were very nice some having a sausage like filling whereas some were like huge noodles with king prawns inside. Some were literally a circular dumpling with prawns inside and then there were white powdery like dumplings which had a barbecue beef like filling these were my favourite.
I would say between my group of three we ordered roughly ten dishes and Chinese tea is served free of charge with the meals. I was full by the end as it doesn't seem like it will fill you up being small dishes but it really does and the noodles were extra and they still weren't finished by all. The presentation was very nice in here each dish was well presented either with a small dip or the way it was laid out but all came in 3's or 4's apart from things like squid because they have to give you more as it is small.
I really enjoyed my meal here because I tried so many different things I had never tried before, some I preferred more than others but all were cooked to perfection and even if I didn't like some it was a case of trial and error and the descriptions help you to see what is in the dish.
The bill came to roughly £22.50 on the half price menu which was for ten dishes and to serve four was great value for money. I would definitely return here at this time and even at full price it is probably worth the money but as a student a bargain is always good to be had.
The waiters were all very polite and humble, they cleared unused plates away very quickly, made sure we had all of our dishes at the end and continuously brought them out at the correct pace just as we had finished a few. They were also very smartly dressed and kept asking if we needed anything else which was just what we needed. There was no long waiting time after ordering we probably got out tea to drink within 5 minutes after ordering then our first three dishes within ten minutes after ordering which is very quick. The good thing is the first order doesn't have to be final as you can continue to order more dishes if you are still hungry at the end.
The place was full of families and groups of all ages and cultures which was nice to see. If you are in Manchester anytime soon or feel like a change and want different Chinese I highly recommend Tai Pan as you get good value for money and great tasting food. I will definitely be back with my friends as I was highly impressed.