Restaurant Review: Yu and You, Blackburn

Yu and You Restaurant – Tso Tso Chinese

Blackburn’s curiously named Yu and You restaurant was intriguingly Gordon Ramsay’s best UK Chinese Restaurant in 2010. Perhaps I fell prey to overly high expectations, but this accolade now seems outlandish.

Despite a rural Blackburn location, a bouncer worryingly patrolled Yu and You’s door. Guests are invited to have a drink prepared by a ‘cocktail mixologist’, begging the question – what other kinds of mixologists exist? The Yu and You Cocktail Menu was apparently a product of six years of creativity; concerning, as the vast majority were long-established classics. The only ‘Oriental’ element of ‘Yu and You Oriental Old Fashioned’ was the barman.

Moving passed the stylish, polished black bar, the restaurant atmosphere became non-existent with a sterile, silent dining room. Harsh, stark lighting shined directly on our faces rather than the table. Chairs awkwardly cramped back against each other, while swathes of space to the side remained unused.

Yu & You started promisingly with the Hot & Sour Soup – the benchmark of any Chinese restaurant. It was certainly hot, but also comforting and complex. The sound of the sizzling dipped prawn cracker greatly lifted my spirits. The Char Siu pork element was eye-wateringly sweet, but certainly enjoyable.

Charlie Yu’s Chicken Curry followed, being indistinguishable from chip shop curry sauce. Considering this was the house speciality, it was genuinely shocking. My partner’s ‘Tai Po Crispy Chicken’ was the kind of fatty, salty dish my partner was trying to avoid.

Dessert at Yu and You produced the novel Strawberry Samosas. Presumably not particularly Chinese, but intriguing against an otherwise barren list. This delightful dish had a pleasing contrast of temperatures, with light, golden, crispy pastry – it provided a fun, novel talking point, while delivering on flavour.

Service by Yu & You’s manager Victoria was warm and welcoming. After my partner spilt a drink, she graciously cleaned it up, generously providing a replacement. The rest of the young team were polite but often distracted and unintuitive: although Victoria graciously commanded the dining room, it was otherwise difficult to attract attention.

Yu and You beat Mayfair’s Kai Restaurant, winning Gordon Ramsay’s approval, with ‘Wok seared 8oz Wagyu beef with sweet soya, lime, garlic and ginger’ at £65. Similarly, I can only assume Yu and You’s rave TripAdvisor reviews followed their premium duck, seafood and beef dishes – around £27 each (inc the required sides). They could well be stunning but seems expensive given the location and environment.

Yu and You
Review Summary

Atmosphere 3/10    Cost 3/10    Quality 5/10   Service 6/10

Yu and You Restaurant Blackburn Review
Excellent hot & sour soup

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Yu and You

Restaurant Review: China City Restaurant (Jin Li), Leicester Square

China City Restaurant – Don’t Canton Them

The imaginatively named China City Restaurant benefited from a great central location, and with a recent Groupon Voucher offered excellent value for money given the expensive area.

Unfortunately, the atmosphere was rather stern. Despite being busy, the restaurant was almost silent, with fellow diners choosing to read each other’s minds rather than engage in traditional forms conversation. The servers echoed this stoicism, which exaggerated the unnecessarily serious environment.

We were warned before being allowed to sit that we had to pay the optional service charge – as though I had a badge warning “I don’t tip!”. Why I needed to pay someone £1.80 to open a screw top bottle of wine was never explained. London after all never misses an opportunity to take every penny possible.

Regarding the food, the portions were generous and satisfying. The food arrived quickly and was served pleasingly hot. However, this was the typical too: salty, sweet, gloopy Chinese food you get everywhere except probably China. Everything for some reason was shiny. Unfortunately, the obligatory sculpted carrot didn’t do enough to refine any of the dishes. For anyone stumbling out of Soho seeking stodgy sustenance, China City Restaurant is an option. For anyone else, the abundance of other Chinese restaurants in the vicinity will probably prove more fruitful.

China City Review Summary

Atmosphere 2  Cost 8  Quality 4  Service 4

*Since this review was first published, China City Restaurant is unfortunately no longer with us –   hence the lack of link*

Restaurant Review: Tang KTV, Preston

Tang Restaurant- Never Left Wanton More

I want to like Chinese food, I really do. However, I can’t be cheaply seduced by salt, sugar and bright colours forever. Mercifully, Tang Preston fought against stereotypically luminous Chinese cuisine, with authentic dishes that thankfully did without fortune cookies.

Tang Preston’s vivacious manager Rob brought the restaurant to life: his omnipresence ensured diners were kept happy and his polite team organised. Rob happily elaborated on what was a potentially intimidating menu, covering Dim Sum, Cantonese and Sichuan cuisines. Perhaps the Chicken Feet or Fish Heads won’t tempt, but take his advice and break free from self-imposed Sweet N Sour Chicken prison. Tang Preston had a broader ingredient list than any local Chinese restaurant – don’t waste the opportunity for exploration

Regarding atmosphere, Tang Preston had a sparse philosophy to interior design. The PowerPoint menu presentation seemed unnecessary. Call me old fashioned, but I can do without rotating images of stomach and intestines – a humble Specials Board would suffice. More importantly, Tang Preston was spotlessly clean and populated by the local Chinese contingent, suggesting an authentic kitchen.

The Hot & Sour Soup was rich and thick, a little gloopy, but I found that strangely comforting. Is dipping prawn crackers into soup poor etiquette? Regardless, I was a Pavlovian dog to the sound of them sensually sizzling. It was packed with vinegary, peppery flavours that did me good. However, the vegetables were flaccid, not crunchy; thus, the dish lacked texture.

The Deep Fried Aubergines with their fluffy centres and crispy skins were so moreish they should be criminalised. The salty, chilli crumby bits were fiercely fought over and the best thing in the restaurant. They made a great alternative to chips, although weren’t any healthier.

The oddly named Char Siu Honey Roast were porky clouds, without an equivalent in British cuisine. They had a spongecake-like texture, punctuated by bits of bacon. The aubergines I could’ve eaten until my heart stopped or the restaurant closed. However, the Char Siu were deceptively filling, and prohibitively sweet to stop me from wanting more than a couple.

As with everything at Tang Preston, the Duck Chow Mein was very generously proportioned. I would have liked to have traded a bit more duck for loads fewer noodles, as there was a daunting amount. The duck itself was well cooked, while the Chow Mein had a good selection of lightly cooked vegetables Peking peeking out. Like a Thai Massage, I found the dish oily, but certainly enjoyable. It provided 3,000% of my RDA of MSG, but hey, it was the weekend. A Chicken Curry dish didn’t fare quite so well, offering more salt than chicken.

If anyone eats: Soup, Dim Sum, the main course and then asks for the dessert menu, lock them up as a menace to society. Tang Preston can’t sell more than two hundred desserts a year – there just aren’t enough morbidly obese people in waddling distance. Tang Preston is a small, industrious restaurant, providing warm welcomes, generous portions, an interesting menu in a casual atmosphere – try it out.

Tang Restaurant
Review Summary

Atmosphere 5    Cost 9    Quality 7    Service 8

Tang Preston Restaurant Review
Hot & Sour Soup – tastes better than it looks
Tang Preston Restaurant Review
Char Siu Honey Roast
Tang Preston Restaurant Review
Deep Fried Chilli Aubergines
Tang Preston Restaurant Review
An XXL Chow Mein

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