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Bo Wa review

Jonathan Schofield goes to Heaton Moor and finds its true sole

Written by . Published on January 12th 2011.

Bo Wa review

Bo Wa wasn’t our first choice. Our intention was to eat in La Casona. This was because, a) we fancied tapas and, b) Confidential has never reviewed this well-known south Manchester restaurant.

Eaten with the slabs of ginger, cooled with mange tout, it was bloody lovely. The asparagus was a real presence but upstaged by the flesh and the ginger. Subtle and strong, this was dish which you could take your time over, luxuriate in. Top marks.

We were out of luck through lack of preparation. It was early evening Saturday, we hadn’t booked, and according to a passing local, La Casona is more popular in these parts than Justin Bieber at a T4 Convention.

Hungry and vaguely desperate, the Schofield family strolled the road. The likeliest looking place was a Chinese restaurant called Bo Wa.

Bo Wa is next to a takeaway called Bo Ho - apparently not a reference to the nature of Heaton Moor life.

Bo Wa and Bo Ho are related, making almost a mini-empire on Shaw Road. They could go further we reckoned as we crossed the road. Maybe open a kids clothing shop called Bo Peep, a nightclub called Bo Jangles, a lapdancing bar called Bo Derek and a personal hygiene shop just called BO.

Once inside we wished we’d brought sunglasses. The walls in Bo Wa are harsh white, decorated with perfunctory flower photos in pound shop clipframes. Since white is the colour of death in China this didn’t feel an auspicious start. On the plus side the place was filling steadily with clearly appreciative Heatonmoorians.

The menu was eminently predictable at first glance. But less so on the re-read. One dish leapt out as interesting. Admittedly this was because it was so much more expensive than others. It was called stir fried Dover sole fillet with asparagus and came at the princely sum of £18.90. Every other main was a tenner or less.

But the sole music had to wait. A Belinda Carlisle sound-a-like coming through the speakers was more of an ever-present.

We started with a blast of dim sum – all £2.99. The pick were the dumplings, the shui mai steamed pork dumplings and the ginger and spring onion beef dumplings. The pork were elegant if a little bland – this can be a problem with pork dumplings – and needed a pick-me-up of soy, then they shone.

The ginger and spring onion dumplings showed there was real talent in the kitchen, harmonious little darlings, full of vip and vim with the ginger combining beautifully with good solid beef.

The youngest son delighted in the meat spring rolls. If food development can be measured by the acceptance of certain foods at certain ages then at ten he’s in his spring roll phase. He’ll hopefully get a mayonnaise phase sometime in his late-nineties if he’s lucky, a cottage cheese phase after he receives the Queen’s telegram.

The spring rolls with a big dish of soft noodles with bean sprouts for £3.50 sorted him out for the whole meal. Very good the noodles were too, in a classic takeaway style.


For the rest it was a Nasigoreng Indonesian fried rice (£6.90) and the sole.

The Nasigoreng was poor, dry beyond the call of duty, uninspired, flat, plain dull. But in a deeply suburban Chinese restaurant in deepest suburbia, the sole was a revelation.

The fish had been filleted. Then the skin and some of the flesh with the bone structure intact, deep fried, to form a dish into which the strips of lovingly cooked sole had been placed. The flesh of the fillet was yielding, moist, oily with a sweet suggestion of sesame. Eaten with the slabs of ginger, cooled with mange tout, it was bloody lovely. The asparagus was a real presence but upstaged by the flesh and the ginger. Subtle and strong, this was dish which you could take your time over, luxuriate in. Top marks.

Pleasant surprises such as this are a food critic and epicure’s delight.

We drank Sun Lik beer during the meal which was thin and lacking in character like almost all Chinese beers we get over here. Maybe Sun Lik to a real Chinese beer drinker is like Fosters or Carling to a Brit man over the age of 22 - pointless.

Bo Wa is a decent option in Heaton Moor, something to stray into after sampling the far more famous Damson and La Casona. It won’t excite people and it’s not worth crossing the conurbation for, but that sole is worth a minor detour.

The waiter was a good lad as well, clever, with a good sense of humour and honest enough to suggest the sole dish be combined with the Nasigoreng rice to avoid the need to buy an extra side of rice or noodles. It was in the end an enjoyable, understated little visit.

Breakdown:7/10 food (mainly for the sole)
3.5/5 service
2/5 ambience
Address:Bo Wa
3 Shaw Road
Heaton Moor
Greater Manchester
0161 442 0230

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AtalantaJanuary 11th 2011.

"They could go further we reckoned as we crossed the road. Maybe open a kid´s clothing shop called Bo Peep, a nightclub called Bo Jangles..."

That's hysterical. Just made my morning. Superb.

Eddy TarbuckJanuary 11th 2011.

A bed shop called Bo Bo's? A shop selling nothing called Bo Diddley? A shop selling Star Wars memorabilia called Bo Ba Fet's?
A record shop called Bo Selecta? Sorry - what were we talking about again?

floradoraJanuary 11th 2011.

my sister slipped in here last summer and i still laugh quite often remembering it!!

Spelling CopJanuary 11th 2011.

"spring roles", really ManCon, make an effort and proof read articles.

Editorial heads rollJanuary 11th 2011.

There was a rushed change to the text that resulted in madness - the earlier rolls in the story were true to their roles while the later one suffered a role reversal. Apologies dear Spelling Office.

Peter HarrisJanuary 11th 2011.

Glad to hear La Casona still popular. My favourite Spanish Tapas (Northern Spanish - Owner from Asturias) restaurant. We have been a couple of times a year for the past 6 years and found it consistently good quality. As you found out Ed - you definitely need to book!

NortherngeezerJanuary 11th 2011.

Ed - By not getting in La Casona at least we were spared the wunnerfull piccys ;-)

Liuzhou LaowaiNovember 15th 2012.

Sun Lik isn't Chinese. It's British.

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