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Dish Of The Week: Cuttlefish Bees

Jonathan Schofield and breadcrumbed delights with a local link

Written by . Published on November 3rd 2011.

Dish Of The Week: Cuttlefish Bees

What? Cuttlefish Bees

Where and how much? The Yang Sing (34 Princess Street, City, 0161 236 2200). £3.80 for four. 

Why? Because they're good to look at and to taste and, I confess, having them recently was a trip down memory lane.

Before the memories what do they taste like? They are meaty, breadcrumbed delights, with seaweed stripes and almond wings. They are fun and tasty. They are surprisingly filling, there is nothing subtle or delicate about them. They are fish gobstoppers that defeat chopsticks and require a fork. Their sheer solidity is their virtue. This comes from the fleshy body of the squid-like cuttlefish. Dipped in the sweet chilli relish they gain extra life, the moisture lifting the flesh, but I could eat them with enjoyment without the relish. I could easily eat them on the move from a paper bag, as a filling snack. They make a pretty picture too.


And the memories? I encountered these again last week while seeing if Yang Sing's dim sum were holding up. There have been a lot of adverse comments recently, which is more about people thinking things have moved on in cooking rather than any fault necessarily with the dishes. I found the skill level in preparation and presentation as high as ever.

The only doubt lay over the 'turnip cake' which was like eating mouse mats made out of washing machine residue. "That's not really for Western taste," said the helpful waiter after I'd made a face, "it's for our Chinese guests." Not sure about that sentiment, but he could have told me when I'm ordered them. Probably would have made me order them more.

And the memory thing? Ah yes, the bees took me back to 2003. I was the editor of the City Life Food and Drink Guidebook and we'd decided to put the Yang Sing on the cover because the brothers who owned it Gerry and Harry Yeung had won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival. We asked them to create a dish to go on the cover of the book, and they came up with these little creatures. The cuttlefish bee represented Manchester's heraldic beast, the worker bee. This adorns the coat of arms of the city and street furniture everywhere and was a nineteenth century symbol underlining the city's energy and industry. It was cute and it was good to see them still on the menu eight years later. And still tasting good.

Food And Drink 003

Any problems? With the food, no. But we needed pictures so Rahki from Confidential went along and ordered this one dim sum dish one Wednesday lunchtime. It cost £3.80 but they slapped on a 40p service charge. It was a funny occasion apparently as that's all she ordered apart from a glass of tap water. Odd glances at her throughout her small lunch.

So let's get this right. She went in and asked for a plate of bees and some water? That's it.

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

pollolocoNovember 3rd 2011.

very hit and miss...I don't visit regularly like I used to, maybe once or twice a year. Dim sum quality varies a lot, sometimes dishes are fresh, others they are old and re-heated and a lot worse for it. I remember when this place was open on 2-3 floors at the weekend and packed with an eclectic mix of customers including a lot of Chinese (usually a good sign). Those days are sadly gone, and now when I go in at weekends the basement is usually barely a third full.

AnonymousNovember 5th 2011.

So is Lounge Ten closed for a 'refurb' for the umpteenth time? Or has it closed for good this time?

Jonathan SchofieldNovember 5th 2011.

For refurb at present we think.

AnonymousNovember 5th 2011.

Not so sure Jonathan. Phone dead, web site redirected to a holding page - not good in the run up to Christmas if you want to book a table. I would expect there to be a voice message and something on the (ex) web site if it were just a temporary closure; they're going to lose a lot of business, at the peak time of the year, in the midst of a recession if it is just a refurb.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldNovember 6th 2011.

We'll take another look

Carolyn BowersNovember 5th 2011.

I think the Yang Sing is vastly overrated, and much prefer The New Emperor or The Golden Rice Bowl. The Rice Bowl's lunch time menu is by far the best value lunch menu in Manchester. For something special Wings is good, but still probably not worth the money compared the my faves.

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