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Little Yang Sing Reviewed

Little Yang Sing Reviewed - Sarah Thompson does something extraordinary and gives us a vegetarian review on Manchester Confidential

Published on June 21st 2012.


Little Yang Sing Reviewed

UPON my arrival in Manchester from the USA, I asked the question that I always ask when I visit a new city: “Are there any good vegetarian restaurants around?”

These little guys had realistic details down to the point at their bottoms where the imaginary tail was meant to have been removed in some magical land of mock meats.

Shockingly, for such a hip, forward-thinking city, the strictly meat-free restaurants were discounted as lacking original ideas and even “giving vegetarianism a bad name”. After all, there is nothing particularly innovative about a fried goat’s cheese salad or a butternut squash risotto. Apparently very few places in town are doing much with the ever-versatile soybean.

The one restaurant that was repeatedly suggested, by vegetarians and omnivores alike, funnily enough, was not meat-free, but still managed to provide a aried number of options that intrigued and delighted this seasoned, perhaps even a little jaded, vegetarian.

I’m talking the Little Yang Sing.

This is a fairly standard-looking Chinatown restaurant from the outside, but its basement location is given a spacious feel by the strategic placement of mirrors. The low ceilings make the place seem cozy, rather than cramped, and the requisite dark red dragons and red and white tablecloths are comfortingly familiar touches. The staff, while all clearly Chinese, bear nametags that label them with English names, such as ‘Vanessa’ and my favorite, the bespectacled and shy ‘Kelvin’, the trainee waiter.

I was joined in my meal by my soy-curious partner, Matthew Frost, and Manchester Confidential’s own soy-dubious Jonathan Schofield. We started with Mock Prawns (£4.95), described on the menu as a  ‘soya product on skewer served with satay and peanut sauce’.

Having dabbled in faux seafood before, I can say that these were some of the most convincing I’ve ever had. These little guys had realistic details down to the point at their bottoms where the imaginary tail was meant to have been removed in some magical land of mock meats. The consistency of the first bite was firm and somehow managed to capture the slightly sinewy quality of the real crustacean. Schofield, in a voice filled with shock, awe and wine, exclaimed "That actually tastes a bit like prawns... I could eat that…”

Frost, ever willing to order vegetarian so that we can share, helped me select our mains. The first was the Vegetarian Spicy Rice-Vermicelli in Singapore Style (£8.95) from the list of ‘Chef’s Vegetarian Main Courses’, a list ELEVEN items long and taking up an entire page.

LysLysMy fellow veggies will understand that this amount of choice is unheard-of. And those eleven dishes are just the beginning. Throughout the menu, there are sections like ‘Vegetarian Dim Sum’, and ‘Vegetarian Appetizers’. And almost all of the other dishes on the menu are available with mixed vegetables, tofu, mock prawns, or soya chunks. Deciding on just two dishes was almost painful, since I’m used to only ever having to choose between two or three items on a menu.

But back to the Vermicelli. To be honest, there wasn’t really enough to this dish to make it a particularly interesting or satisfying main course on its own. The vermicelli itself was light, if a bit greasy, but I found myself wanting more of something to fill it out, be that more vegetables or some protein. A hilarious aspect of the noodles was how difficult they were to get from the dish to your plate, so I would advise foregoing it as a sharing course if you’re trying to impress someone with your elegance on a first date or a business dinner.

VermicelliVermicelli

The star of the show, without a doubt, was the Ginger and Spring Onion Tofu (£8.95). Perfectly-textured tofu triangles came smothered in a garlic and rice wine sauce. One word of warning: when they say ginger, they mean ginger. Huge slices of the stuff. Frost, the ginger-lover, reveled in the excess root, but after my ill-fated chomp into a piece, thinking it was a bamboo shoot, I avoided them. The sauce, onions, and tofu, however, were exactly my kind of thing. Absolutely delicious. Schofield enjoyed it too. After several minutes, I had to intervene with my chopsticks to keep him from eating all of my tofu.

TofuliciousTofulicious

The rice both boiled (£2.80) and egg fried (£3.20) was just right. As was the Black Bean Sliced Duck (£10.50), that the traitors I was with sneaked onto the table. So I’m told anyway.

So, there you have it: a vegetarian meal in Manchester that delighted and surprised people on the whole spectrum of ‘soy’ appreciation. So feel confident taking herbivore and omnivore friends to the Little Yang Sing. You might even bear witness to a new tofu lover being born…

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE. 

Little Yang Sing, George Street, City. 7 George Street, Manchester, M1 4HE.     

Rating: 14.5/20
Food: 7.5/10
Service: 3.5/5
Ambience: 3.5/5

PLEASE NOTE: 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, we get carried away.

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

SmittyJune 21st 2012.

Their crispy beef is amazing.

Jonathan SchofieldJune 21st 2012.

Yes Smitty got in there first with a wholly apt veggie comment eh?

1 Response: Reply To This...
SmittyJune 21st 2012.

But of course. They're terribly, terribly easy to rile (see comments below). Bless them.

AnonymousJune 21st 2012.

At last veggie options are explored and actually reviewed in ManCon!. I'm not a veggie myself, but always look for the alternative and non meat options when I eat out. This type of review was LONG over due, so thank you. And may they continue or at least be explored. Banging on about meat all the time gets a bit boring...

Doctor QJune 21st 2012.

I think also Akbars on Liverpool Road offer quite a large vegetarian selection. I remember taking a business colleague there a few years back and they were veggie- but they were more than impressed.
akbars.co.uk/manchester/akbars-manchester-menu…

AnonymousJune 21st 2012.

Totally agree, Anon. So much of the cooking that ManCon reviews and rates well appears to be 'modern British', which relies on high-quality cuts of meat - of no interest at all to us vegetarians. In fact, once I've heard a ManCon reviewer raving about the quality of beef in a place, I generally avoid it, as it's my disappointing experience that most meat-focussed fine dining has no respect for vegetarian food at all.

More veggie-centred reviews, please!

AnonJune 21st 2012.

You lot will find anything to whinge about. They provide a Veggie review - so lets all whine about the lack of veggie reviews. Cheer up!

AnonymousJune 21st 2012.

There are loads of restaurants that do decent veggie options in and around Greater Manchester and there are lots of different ideas about what makes a good veggie meal. Personally, the idea of eating a 'mock' anything doesn't appeal in the slightest. I'd much rather eat an actual vegetable! So my plea wouldn't be for more veggie specific reviews but rather a mention of veggie and vegan provision in EVERY review... and actually I think ManCon usually do this fairly well!

AnonymousJune 21st 2012.

Kelvin has been a trainee waiter there for years!! I think they must just pass the name badges around...

JohnthebriefJune 21st 2012.

I have bored Mancon to death with my rants about the original Yang Sing, so I will limit myself to saying that YSL is my favourite restaurant in chinatown apart from Red Chilli

NorthernGeezerJune 29th 2012.

Do they cook the veggie food with extra MSG tho to give it added flavour?

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