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Yang Sing Reviewed

Gordo thinks the Yang Sing is beginning to find form again

Written by . Published on January 17th 2013.


Yang Sing Reviewed

GORDO has been eating Harry Yeung's food at the Yang Sing for an astonishing thirty years. In three different locations too. 

What Harry does is the traditional stir-fry with a lightness of touch that jiggles great flavour with bringing the best out of the ingredients.

A lot of dim sum has passed under the bridge since the seventies including a break up with Harry’s brother, Gerry - arguably the finest front of house in Manchester. Gordo was not alone in thinking that the restaurant would probably suffer with the two brothers not operating together, and that proved to be the case. 

But, after half a decade in the doldrums, is there good news on the horizon? 

Roast Suckling Pig And JellyfishRoast Suckling Pig And Jellyfish

Thirty years ago, Harry was a great innovator with Chinese food; he brought real dim sum to Manchester, along with something that blew a young Gordo’s mind; spring rolls the size of half a fat cigar, tiny in comparison to those he got in the Chinese chippies in Salford. The latter were the size of toilet rolls and not much tastier, whilst Harry’s had duck and exotic mushrooms. Little flavour bombs, as crisp as a starched collar. 

Oh, and soy sauce on the table. How cool was that? Lobster, whole Dover sole and wild sea bass were steamed with ginger and spring onion, a revelation, whilst in addition to fried rice that sang arias, noodles had fire in them. Singapore vermicelli. Oh God, how good were they? 

We ate crispy belly pork and duck, which hung in the window, all mahogany skin and divine meat that had been basted in the process by its own fat, finishing up as lean and tasty as Jessica Ennis’s thighs. You could cut that duck with a blunt spoon. 

Over the decades, the rest of the Chinese community cottoned on to the fact that the Gai Jin (us ‘foreign devils’) would pay a lot more for authentic dishes. Restaurants started to spring up around Faulkner Street and Chinatown began to take shape. 

The reality is that Manchester’s Chinese community have a lot to thank Harry and Gerry Yeung for. 

Roast Pork BunRoast Pork Bun

But what about today, food-wise? 

Harry’s challenge is that he is in danger of being outsmarted by the new generation of Chinese restaurateurs, opening the likes of Red’n’Hot and the Red Chilli. Meanwhile Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese restaurants are giving all the Chinese restaurants, be they Cantonese, Szechuan or Hunan, a good run for their money. 

Having had four separate dinners and lunches at Harry’s gaff over the past six months Gordo has come to a conclusion. As well as being able to do a little forward thinking. 

Let’s talk about the ambience first. This is a restaurant, not a café. The only Chinese competitor in town that beats the place on comfort and feel is Wings. The Yang Sing is still a restaurant Gordo would use on special occasions; walking down those steps into the main room always gives the Fat One a buzz; it was no different this afternoon on a test walk-in. Big occasions, yes. Yet you can sit in there on a table for one and worry a few dim sum round the table in perfect peace and comfort, reading the paper. Or the iPad. 

GreensGreens

Service is only let down when dealing with the staff who are still learning English - as in mental Italian restaurants with the same problem and added Italian mentalism stoked up by too much testosterone and strong coffee. So do yourself a favour and understand, compensate and show a little humour. Spot the other four or five girls and guys who are ‘middle management’ on the floor and ask them for any help you need. They are brilliant. 

The food. 

At first glance you are looking at a pretty traditional Cantonese menu; Gordo is happy with that. Harry won’t do crispy duck with pancakes though. Just so you know. Get over it. 

Crispy Wrapped PrawnsCrispy Wrapped Prawns

What Harry does is the traditional stir-fry with a lightness of touch that jiggles great flavour with bringing the best out of the ingredients. Gordo apologises in advance for moving away from his traditional listing of dish by dish and their pricing; he has eaten in excess of thirty dishes, so he is going to be a little different here. He also lost most of his notes along with his little black book on the piss last week. 

Back to the food. Yes. At Gordo’s Xmas lunch for his daughter, his shiney new trainee son-in-law Mike and the Sharrocks, the plan was simple. Gordo grabbed hold of Harry and told him he was prepared to spend thirty-five English each and to just bring it on. Ruth Allan, Gordo’s pal, and fellow food writer was also on hand to adjudicate. Three months pregnant, with twins, she was eating for three. 

Harry brought traditional dim sum first; what we call shredded-wheat prawns with a sharp, vinegary dipping sauce. Superb, crunchy with a firm meaty prawn filling, brimming with naughty prawny-ness. Char Sui pork buns were worth a Michelin star for the flawless execution of the dough mix and bake that rose in the oven having been brushed with something slightly sweet to glisten in the light on the table.

The shredded pork filling was what all the trendy ‘trash diners’ of the Northern Quarter and Brick Lane would shave their beards off for when trying to out-smart each other with their pulled-pork-this-that-and-the-other dishes. You, my friends, are pussies when it comes to handling pork compared with The Big H. Ultimate richness wrapped in the ultimate antidote. A truly lovely dish.

Chickens FeetChickens Feet

Chicken feet were just bleedin’ ‘orrible.

Sui Mai are incomparible, the minced pork and prawn stuffing semi wrapped in the Chinese take on pasta, and steamed. At the lunch today, fried prawn envelopes with mayonnaise dip shone, as did the spring rolls with shredded duck and bamboo shoots.

Peter, front of house boss who has got younger as the years roll on, apologised for the restricted choice in the dim sum menu. Gordo thought he was taking the mickey. He had counted eighty on the menu. A poor show apparently and will be rectified at the end of the month. Yes. Gordo was baffled as well. 

Real Chicken, No FeetjpgReal Chicken, No Feet

Double cooked paper pouch, five spice pork chops are definitely tip-top as well. 

Moving on, crispy suckling pig with jellyfish was a hit with Howard Sharrock, who took a complete liking to the jellyfish; Gordo thinks it’s pointless. The Editor, Schofield loves it as well. Gordo was left happy, mind you, with the pig again. Brilliantly seasoned and crispy, with lots of creamy white fat underneath. 

Weird Jellyfish LoverWeird Jellyfish Lover

An old fashioned dish of sweet and sour fish was a misfire; the fish over cooked, probably monkfish, simply too solid for this cooking method. The batter was, well, not right. The sweet and sour sauce was, mind you, sharp with what tastes like a good sherry vinegar cutting through the stickiness. It’s probably Chinese rice wine for all Gordo knows, but, by The Lord, it works whatever it is.  

Sweet And Sour FishSweet And Sour Fish

Crispy pork and duck with boiled rice came with broccoli, the pork a little better than the duck. It’s difficult to beat the Happy Seasons take on this great hangover cure, and unfortunately Harry’s team don’t quite make it. 

Before we close on the food, Harry brought out a dish of lamb leg steaks, which were dark and mysterious. But fit. Gordo thinks that they were the ones with lemon grass sauce and a lot of cracked black pepper. Just on a plate, take a few slices off them. A major winner.

SteakSteak

The prices are in line with all the comparable restaurants, you can count on dim sum as between £3.50 and £5.50, starters between £5 up to £11 for spare ribs and mains between £11 and £16. The set menus, by the way, are a great way of launching yourself into Harry’s collection. 

The wine list, however, is a major problem. Too little under thirty quid. The house wines are twenty, the rest are, to Gordo’s mind, expensive. Mind you there is a Boizel Brut Reserve  NV (Champagne) on at £39.50 which is a good punt if you’re celebrating or diabetic.  We drank beer and a couple of bottles or three of Riesling Grand Cru ‘Rosaker’ – Sipp Mack. At £35 quid. It stands up well to highly spiced food.

Gordo was told he was diabetic when he was forty. The Nurse told him not to drink beer any more and stick to wine, preferably dry white. Gordo hadn’t drunk a pint of beer in his life. Perversely, he came out of the clinic, went into the Carter’s Arms and got rancid on the house bitter. And, he’s loved it ever since. Stupid, eh? 

Now, the conclusion. Gordo loves Harry for many reasons, not just his cooking and encyclopaedic knowledge of Manchester United and the love of baiting the blues. But it has to be said that standards had slipped. The food over the past few months has seen huge improvements and some innovation. But it needs to be better. Simply because Harry is the best Cantonese chef in the North West. He can do it. And Gordo thinks it’s going to happen.

The reason? 

The three pains, as Harry calls them. Bonnie, Yinhen and Yinting Yeung. The second generation. 

Shredded Wheat PrawnsShredded Wheat Prawns

Bonnie has become a powerhouse of marketing and promotion for the brand, whilst the boys are charming the punters. Bonnie in particular is driving her father mad currently. I get the feeling that secretly Harry loves it. Gordo can see a second wind coming. (Is this in terms of prospects for the restaurant or because you’ve eaten too much. Ed.) 

Currently the Yang Sing is, in Harry’s terms an Arsenal of a restaurant, good, great at times, but needs an influx of the new, an innovation that drove Harry thirty years ago. Wenger, the Arsenal manager, will sort his team out. I have a feeling that Harry will as well. 

You can follow Gordo on Twitter here @GordoManchester

Yang Sing
34 Princess Street, City, 0161 236 2200 

Rating: 16/20
Food: 7.5/10
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 4.5/5

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.

 

Sui MaiSui Mai

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

pollolocoJanuary 17th 2013.

Have to agree with Gordo, went last week and things have certainly improved. Been going to Yanger for nearly the same amount of time as well as Harry's in wilmslow back in the 80's as well. Fond memories of them being in the office block off George Street after the fire too...I remember the VAT man taking up residence there for a few days...only time I've seen Gerry pissed! However over the last 5-6 years have been going to Glamorous and Tai Pan for dim sum as they were just "better". Will certainly be re-visiting....loving the new loo's as well.

Bilbo BobbinsJanuary 17th 2013.

Harry should be talked into broadening the range a bit; updating that sweet and sour, for example, would be a great hit, lightening it somehow and bringing it into the 21st Century. Good to see what is undoubtedly the best brand as a Chinese restaurant in the NW getting some TLC

AnonymousJanuary 17th 2013.

Review got my mouth watering and ready to shoot down town for a banquet until I read about the reds baiting the blues. Won't be lining a red pocket with any of my hard earned

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 17th 2013.

Grow up bertie

Blue PeterJanuary 17th 2013.

Grow a pair, get down there and bait him right back! We're champions, remember.

RobbsyJanuary 17th 2013.

Yang Sing used to be the best Chinese around - but boy did it go downhill for a while (I think they took their eye off the ball - expansion, short-lived hotel etc.)

Glad to see it's getting some form back - that suckling pig looks good enough to justify a visit on its own!

Wonder if they serve Fer Gee Pork - red cooked, marinated in Scotch, tastes surprisingly bitter ;)

Wee NellJanuary 18th 2013.

I too was a regular visitor for many years, last visit unbelievably 10 years ago at what was supposed to be a special birthday/anniversary meal but which disappointed at every level and we grinned resolutely so as not to let the rubbery fibrous scallops ruin the occasion. I've not felt the urge to return since. Still, times change and perhaps it's time to see if the food at Yang sings once more.

avoJanuary 19th 2013.

Judging from the photos, the same quality dim sum and roasted meats can be had in other places in Chinatown at a much more reasonable price. I am however drawn in by the suckling pig and jelly fish dish. Will definitely be going in soon to try that.

AnonymousApril 28th 2014.

Loved to read your blog. I would like to suggest you that traffic show most people read blogs on Mondays. So it should encourage blogger to write new write ups over the weekend primarily

AnonymousMay 2nd 2014.

The Chinese certainly do know how to prepare pork well. Unfortunately, I have not been there in a long time. Whisky bars in Singapore www.boulevard.sg/…

Raymond SmithJune 10th 2014.

I have tried roast pork buns many times before. There is always too little pork in them. Best restaurants in Singapore www.kezhan.sg/…

Tim WaddyDecember 9th 2014.

Went a couple of weeks ago, food was okay but hate being rushed. Wanted a relaxing meal but they brought starters and mains together. They were busy buy at those prices I expected better.

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