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Green Tea Restaurant

Kate Cooper thinks the Green Tea Restaurant needs more than afortune cookie to save it

Published on August 7th 2008.

Green Tea Restaurant

A derelict shop is like discovering a flea on your pet. You may have a singular flea today but tomorrow it will be plural and by next week we have what’s known in veterinary terms as an infestation.

The Green Tea Restaurant follows a different itinerary, bar the indigestion which sadly arrives prematurely with the starters. Startling good looks and a head full of ideas hold little weight in an eatery when sadly the food just isn’t up to much.

West Didsbury is feeling the itch due to recently being infested by independent establishments closing down. Hub, The Newsagents and Vanilla have all fallen victim. The video shop on the corner of Cavendish Road and Burton Road still protests to its wisened punters that it’s ‘closed due to refurbishment’ even though its most recent film release was 2005's Memoirs of a Geisha.

Then there’s the Kwong Ming, something of ‘dormant shop’ royalty in these parts. If ever you were looking for inspiration on how to close a business elegantly and sustain public intrigue, the Kwong Ming ought to have been your mentor. The Kwong Ming never closed. It just never opened. For ten years to be precise.

The Kwong Ming was where Miss Saigon met the film Wish You Were Here. There was something fanciful about it, from the painted ‘fish, chips and peas’ sign to the Vietnam-style 1960s aqua blue porcelain fish and sea horses. God it was glorious. Sometimes, you’d see a shuffle of tired slippers and feel a flush of excitement as to whether the slippers would crank up the deep fat fryer. They never did.

A month or so ago the unthinkable happened. There was newspaper up at the window, the same stash used to wrap up the fish and chips when Right Said Fred were making headlines for being deeply dippy. Then the newspaper came down to reveal the Green Tea Restaurant. I think I can speak for West Didsbury in saying this was a commemorative moment for Burton Road. Gone is the deep fat fryer and trinkets. Farewell old friends. Replaced by slick black tables and chairs set against a backdrop of fabulous Oriental wallpaper with a few antique pieces of furniture to enhance the eclectic look, straight out of the pages of Living Etc.

It’s quirky and kitsch, from the shocking pink menus to the juke box playing anything from Crazy Frog to Coldplay and the endearingly enthusiastic yet clearly inexperienced waitresses. They also have a heavenly selection of floral and fruit teas (£2), not the dried stuff in the bag – genuine fruit and flowers. The Green Tea Restaurant is bloody good...in concept, but we’ll address that point later. I’m not normally a great frequenter of ersatz traditional Chinese restaurants, I find the culture of it all a little too predictable – the pipe music, fortune cookies, hot towels, finger bowls, the mandatory mint with your bill followed by the prescriptive indigestion at two in the morning.

The Green Tea Restaurant follows a different itinerary, bar the indigestion which sadly arrives prematurely with the starters. Startling good looks and a head full of ideas hold little weight in an eatery when sadly the food just isn’t up to much.

Let’s start with the dim sum appetiser for one person (£6.50) – I felt deflated even before my first bite. The seaweed lacked crunch, the spare rib was sparse, the chicken satay (oh, was that what it was?), the prawn toast was like biting into a mattress, and so my taste buds went into shock when the spring roll was delightfully flavoursome, crisp on the outside with steaming, succulent filling.

My husband’s quarter of a crispy duck with pancakes (£7) was pretty average. Lashings of rich and decadent plum sauce just about managed to camouflage the fact that every last drop of moisture had been wrung out of the overcooked duck. The roast pork in cashew nuts (£6.80) disappointed. The crunch of the cashew nuts and hints of aniseed barely succeeded in cutting through the gloop and we were fearful to enquire after exactly which part of the pig we were eating.

But it was the roast duck in pineapple and ginger (£7.20) that failed on all accounts. It was the worst thing to pass my lips since eating antelope poo on safari in South Africa (an initiation procedure I was told at the time). Considering the usual acute flavour of pineapple and ginger, neither could be detected and the skin of the duck lay floating on a film of grease. I’m not entirely sure that there was any duck in there.

I was actually relieved when I discovered they don’t do desserts, although I was told, “We have a portion left of Swiss roll.” It was only 8pm. I couldn’t help but wonder if the same said Swiss roll was that found in the bargain bucket section of Somerfield opposite for half price.

I don’t enjoy going for the jugular of an independent, especially a recent arrival, but I also get very little pleasure from paying over £50 for food which is poor. It’s a shame as this restaurant would be a cunning little ideas factory, if they could cook.

Would I go again? Not for all the tea in the China.

Rating: 9.5/20
Breakdown: 3/10 Food
3/5 Service
3.5/5 Ambience
Address: Green Tea Restaurant
222 Burton Road
West Didsbury
Tel no: (no number available yet)
Opening hours: (nothing official yet) but 11.30-11.00 Mon-Sun)

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

alAugust 7th 2008.

Well I hope you feel bad about yourself now Kate!

TofuturkeyAugust 7th 2008.

Gutted. This place looks great and was really looking forward to a visit. Burton Road really lacks an eat-in Chinese restaurant, although Lotus takeaway is great.Actually, come to think of it, Burton Rd is lacking more and more these days, unless you're looking for a bar

Ho chi minhAugust 7th 2008.

Ho...you sound like a real tool!

TekkenAugust 7th 2008.

'It was the worst thing to pass my lips since eating antelope poo on safari in South Africa.'It sounds very distgusting!! I would run away immeditately if I were you. Why did you still stay and asking for desserts??

Morri312August 7th 2008.

Ho Chi Minh. Where in my post did I say I adore traditional chinese cooking?It's just nice to have a choice, Prawn Toast is popular with Westerner's and independant restaurants like this cannot afford to take risks so they try to provide a menu that will appeal to the widest possible audience.Pigs Liver? Ducks tounge? My advice is don't knock it till youve tried it. I like chicken feet, hated them but at least I gave it a go. Variety is the spice of life and all that...

mAugust 7th 2008.

veracity74, you're spot on. West Didsbury has foods from across the world but the one we seem to be missing is a good old fashioned chippy. I'd take a re-opened Kwong Ming over this anyday. Plus the name makes it sound like a Tea house, not a restaurant.

KatherineAugust 7th 2008.

I have been working in China for 2years, I love the real chinese food. Almost the chinese food we have in England are deep fry , very greasy and salty. I got supprized when I had dinner in Green Tea. It tastes like proper chinese food much nicer than the takeaway food. I love the pink menu and the ginger tea. Don't know why did Kate Cooper so mean to this restaurant, did you have a bad day? Green Tea Restaurant, what a good idea to name the restaurant, very chinese and very special. I will certainly go back again.

Morri312August 7th 2008.

I went here for a meal last Saturday and was pleasantly surprised. Having been to China a couple of times before I know that traditional Chinese dishes may not be always suitable for the Western pallete. A lot of the dishes from this restaurant were cooked in the traditional Chinese style and may take some getting used to. This is not something to be criticised by over zealous wannabe food critics but rather applauded as there are not too many restaurants like this in Manchester. The service was prompt and the staff were friendly. I have no complaints and will be paying green tea another visit soon.Morri

east lancsAugust 7th 2008.

Been here a couple of times. The dubious decor aside, I really rate this place at this price point. I can only disagree entirely with this review.

TerrifiedAugust 7th 2008.

That duck dish looks like regurgitated knuckles and beaks on a small slice of Mighty White. Very worrying.

DenAugust 7th 2008.

Well if the pictures of the food haven't put you off then nothing will. It looks distgusting! I'm certainly going to give it a miss!

AnonymousAugust 7th 2008.

The Green Tea could not be worse than Polar Bar in Chorlton, where we recently had an appalling lunch. The tables, floor and toilets needed attention too.

EmilyAugust 7th 2008.

How disappointing! It looks so nice from the outside, I was really looking forward to going there! Will stick with Lotus takeaway further up Burton Road I think. Thanks for the warning!

FraserAugust 7th 2008.

Hello, is that kate Cooper from Abu Dhabi+ If so, Kate send me an email, Tess me and our daughter would love to here form you.Fraser

AnonymousAugust 7th 2008.

Never been here but always skeptical about these reviews.. If you have a tied in 2for1 offer ir advertising space on Manchester Confidential it acts as a guarantee for a glowing report.. I'll still give this restaurant a go, it's important, especially in support local businesses and make your own mind up.

AnonymousAugust 7th 2008.

whats the latest about Sams being sold ?

LamboAugust 7th 2008.

Am a bit annoyed. I go to this restaurant every couple of weeks (have eaten inside a couple of times but mainly takeaway) since it opened. Really pleasant staff and interesting but pleasant decor (although glad they ditched the jukebox!). On only one occasion have I not enjoyed the food (i ordered the chilli chicken which was obscenely hot) hugely. I'd heard this website was a bit hooky and this review proves it for me. Jenny if you dont agree an advertising deal with this website you dont get a favourable review....simples!This restaurant was shut tonight for some reason (11/7/09).. so I went to Lotus... Id be interested in anybody elses thoughts as I couldnt believe the drop in standard (gutted) - i came on here to comment on the lotus and saw this review... WTFDoubt you will print this..but lets see.

Ho Chi MinhAugust 7th 2008.

Morri312 and Katherine; you both advise that you have travelled to China and totally adore the authentic Chinese cooking which you have sampled out there and which you claim is also accurately reflected in the cooking at The Green Tea Restaurant. I do not profess to have the culinary knowledge of Gordo, merely on the basis that when leading the Viet Cong I ensured they survived only on a basic diet of chow (watery rice) whilst fighting the US war machine. However in my humble left wing opinion, I do not think dishes such as spare ribs, chicken satay, prawn on toast or crispy duck with pancakes feature on the menu of any roadside vendor or home in China.If you are interested in trying authentic Szechuan dishes, I would recommend digging a Cu Chi tunnel to Red N Hot in Chinatown whose unctuous edible delights encompass dishes featuring pigs liver, ducks tongue and 1000 year old egg! Now then, would and of you Mancs like to sample that?!?!

JennyAugust 7th 2008.

Hi, this is Jenny from Green Tea restaurant. I understand everyone wants a chippy on burton road, we all miss mr Ng's Chips. That is also what I am trying to arrange with my landlord Mr Ng(previous owner of Kwok Ming)at the moment. We may do a fish and chips day for Friday lunch and Tea time. I will let you know soon.Green Tea Restaurant is a very new business (only 4 weeks) and myself is fairly new to the restaurant business. During these weeks, Everyone works very hard to satisfy our customers. I just read this review and it is very heart breaking. I work in the restaurant everyday and always check with my customers about what they like and what they do not like. I know people have different views on food, and there will never be a single dish can satisfy everyone. However,All the customers I have served that are all very happy about the food and service. I never noticed anyone as unhappy as this lady writer. I am sorry for your bad experience, but instead of taking pictures and writing articles about the place, you should at least let me know. I will refund you the money and if you want to have another go with us, I will be very happy to provide you with another meal.Thanks very much for all the supporters and welcome you all to come to my restaurant!

StuartAugust 7th 2008.

Has this Kate been paid by other restaurant? She seems really professional at criticizing...who will take a pricture of the food in the restaurant? It seems like well organized, very snaky.

east lancsAugust 7th 2008.

Went again on Saturday. In the absence of a functioning brain between us, we ordered the set menus. Great stuff, excellent dim sum, duck was good, really loved the "hot and sour" soup too. Good sizzling beef dish (dunno the actual name). The only let down were the scallops - bit rubbery really. Washed down with beers and vino, still came in about £60. Staff were genuinely great, and joy of joys, they've turned the music down a few notches. Easily 7/10, easily.

AnonymousAugust 7th 2008.

This review is completely wrong, this is a great place to eat proper Chinese food. Lovely setting, fab service and we will be going back.Would recommend to anybody - also very good wine list supplied from Reserve a few doors down.

Morri312August 7th 2008.

I meant to say I "tried" chicken feet..

AnonymousAugust 7th 2008.

Sams chop house is going down , I had lunch on Tuesday , not good . Food warm , service indifferent . I am not surprised that Steve has sold it .What about Mr Toms ?

Ho Chi MinhAugust 7th 2008.

Call me a cynic here but has anyone noticed that the more recent positive rants about this place are written in the same style, have similar spelling mistakes and grammatical errors as the post made by Jenny of the Green Tea Rooms. It's as if they've all been penned by the same author!

veracity74August 7th 2008.

I'm really surprised at this review - had a great meal at Green Tea last week. The service was very good and we were also presented with a complimentary pot of fruity tea afterwards.As one who does actually remember when the Kwong Ming was a working chippy (showing my age here) I still miss it and think that's what the area's really missing.

scoteeeAugust 7th 2008.

lmao @ Ho Chi Minh!!!

ShonaAugust 7th 2008.

I like it!! I had dinner with my sister on Monday. Food was nice, service was good, the restaurant is very clean. People's test are different, if someone doesn't like one or two dishes, it doesn't mean the restaurant is bad. Rumors,rumors..... Lets supportting local business.

lovemyfoodAugust 7th 2008.

I live moments away from Green Tea and honestly it has to be one of my favourite Chines restaurants, admittedly I have only ever taken food away and not eaten in! I tell everyone how lovely it is. The staff are so friendly and helpful too. How funny people think it's awful? I think the food tastes really 'clean' it's not greasy like many Chinese places, the rice is gorgeous and the dishes I choose (duck in plum sauce, crispy shredded beef and special in oyster sauce with seasonal veg) are always gorgeous. Ah well..... Horses for courses and all that (oh, that sounds wrong??...). No horses involved!

Classically British NameAugust 7th 2008.

Ho Chi Minh, I not know what you talking about. All comments here seem velly, I mean very real. Green Tea Restaurant is fantastic place with rots and rots, I mean lots and lots of customers happy. Enjoy or be quiet as we say in China, I mean Didsbury.

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