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Resturant review: The City Rendezvous

Known better as the Chung Ku, Fat Git goes for a Russian with lurve

Published on February 18th 2010.

Resturant review: The City Rendezvous

I have only ever proposed to one woman. I wasn't on bended knees - but she was.

I was sitting in the back of the cab. It was Valentine's day, more than a decade ago. She was a regular fare, on the account, who worked at a Chinese takeaway called Jumbo Super Stir Fry in Clubmoor. She regularly stirred something in me all right, all the way back to Storrington Avenue fire station - and by then it was usually me who needed hosing down.

The price tag is big. But as Nadia reminds me, surveying my ample girth: "Fat Git, you are generous man, I would like to see below that." So would I, I thought, having not even glimpsed my feet, let alone anything else, from a standing position, in my adult life.

Love is like that. A fickle beast, but I have never forgotten her. And every February 14th the memory comes back to haunt me, and every time someone gets in the Fairway with an egg foo yong, I am reminded of the delicate fragrance of her hair; transported back to those nights of passion as surely as I transported her.

Last Sunday was Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year. The real one and not the one that's this week in Liverpool.

But that's OK because Cousin Tony is part of a Chinese dragon this weekend, him and his mates from some community probation self-help group. He says 12 of them will be going around restaurants in Warrington, whether the restaurants like it or not, setting firecrackers off underneath this big thing they've made out of papier mache, Sugar Puffs boxes and blankets. They will be collecting envelopes of money from the owners and the customers in return for no bad luck. Happy days .

So I went off to the Chung Ku with Nadia. I met her on the rants on Liverpool Confidential, just like that bloke Dig met a woman ranter from the Pilgrim.

Nadia is proper class. "I have lovely thick dark hairs right down my back," she told me on Skype. From her posts on this site, I already knew that she was a "passionate Russian woman who seeks mans for going out on hot date". That's me.

Today she elaborates: “I am married to university medical professor, but he is flaccid in biology of heart. Nadia need more,” she purrs, her eyes dark and pleading, as we sit down by the window of this waterfront restaurant which now calls itself "The City Rendezvous". She asks for a bottle of vodka to be brought to the table. "The best," she snaps at the waiter, but only short measures could be brought.

I like a woman who knows what she wants and who knows how to get it. Nadia had suggested this place after reading on the website: "There is seating for up to 330 customers which boasts to accommodate young trendy clientele, fashionable country folks, successful business executives and football stars alike.If you wish to mingle with the “in-crowd” or simply have a fabulously satisfying meal, you now know where to go."

"We go to only ze best," she had said, lighting her fourth Sobraine.

We begin with a dim sum platter for two (£14). It's the usual, non-frightening anglo-Chinois fare of sesame prawn toasts, spring rolls, chicken samosas, steamed beef dumplings, won ton and seaweed. It's good, it's bone dry and crisp where it should be and meaty and generous where it should be. Just like the lady. At least what what I had of it. When when my back was turned trying to get the chief's attention for some soy sauce to lash over it, the St Petersburg minx polished off the lot.

"I am hungry, let us eat whatever is delicious," she says seizing the menu in one hand and placing her red, sensuous lips around the tip of another delicious spring roll. Before I can say wonton woman she has ordered a chicken chow mein (£7.50), even more spring rolls (£3.30), fried seafood with asparagus in a birds nest (£13.50), sliced Szechuan chicken (£8.70) and deep fried duck with prawn meat stuffing in oyster sauce (£12.70). Oh and a big pile of of egg fried rice for three (£2.80 pp) and prawn crackers to keep us going (£2.50).

The price tag is big. But as Nadia reminds me, surveying my ample girth: "Fat Git, you are generous man, I would like to see below that." So would I, I thought, having not even glimpsed my feet, let alone anything else, from a standing position, in my adult life.

The dishes were also of a good size. I wouldn't say massive, but you would probably think it was loads. The chow mein noodles sat on top of a thin, bland broth and atop of that, plenty of tender sliced chicken fillet, mushrooms and aubergine. If you are used to a bucket of MSG in your Chinese food, you may get a headache wondering where they had left it.

Nadia was plying me with vodka martinis, something I had never considered with Chinese food before, and the room was starting to swim, as you can see by one or two of these pictures.

The duck was all thick meaty chunks, but the prawn stuffing that it cam encased in, was thick like a layer of fatty insulation and this particular mix did nothing to enhance it. The oyster sauce, with its delicate assortment of beautiful and minuscule chopped aromatics, was excellent.

The Szechuan chicken gave off a good blast of savoury sour and sweet heat from a the abundant red chillies. "I am getting hotter," laughed Nadia, reaching for the vodka. "I like!". So did I, although you would probably think it was too hot.

The seafood and asparagus looked beautiful but had sacrificed style for any depth of flavour either in the sauce or the vegetables. There were plenty of fresh, huge and and perfectly cooked prawns, squid, scallops, but the bitesized asparagus and thick shards of spring onion were memorable only for being as squeaky as a mouse.

Every two minutes the Happy Birthday music was going off, so a lot of people come here to celebrate, and they pay for the privilege, as I was about to pay for the privilege of this Soviet temptress.

"Come, I would like to ride on Eye now," she said, pulling to my feet. "Blimey, I thought, this one works fast," the room still going around.

Twenty minutes later we were swaying at the top of the new big wheel by the Arena. The breeze was blowing outside and suddenly I felt queasy inside. Given the wind and the chill of the dock,there would only be one thing blowing back that night..

Rating: 15/20
Breakdown: 7/10 food
4/5 service
4/5 atmosphere
Address: City Rendezvous Restaurant (Chung Ku)
Columbus Quay
Riverside Drive
L3 4DB.

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