Sunday, 1 July 2012

BBQ Handmade Noodles King, Faulkner St, Manchester

I know what you're thinking. What a bizarre, nonsensical name for a restaurant. I'm sure it has another name in Mandarin or even Korean, the signage outside is written in another language I cannot decipher, but the English name is really BBQ Handmade Noodles King. (For the rest of this blog, I shall refer to it simply as BBQ as it's too much of a tongue twister). Inside the restaurant, it is sparsely decorated, the obligatory fish tank the only indicator that we were in a Chinese eaterie. Bizarrely, there was a Christmas decoration in the window, one of those stars made of fairy lights what you get from Poundstretcher. I glanced up and a few Christmas tree baubles hung forlornly from the ceiling. Curiouser and curiouser.

Now, don't let the name of this restaurant deceive you. You're not going to get burgers on this barbecue, nor are you going to be offered copious amounts of noodles. This eaterie is an interesting mix of Korean, 'real' Chinese and anglicised Chinese, offering dishes from the safe (chicken and sweetcorn soup) to the authentic, I'm a Celebrity Bushtucker Trial kind of dishes (lamb's ovaries and barbecued quail anyone?). The barbecue in question refers to Korean specialities that are flame and charcoal grilled, the handmade noodles are on the menu but not mandatory (EFR and boiled rice are still order of the day); there is also the usual options of set banquets, a dim sum list as long as a piece of string, and the increasingly popular Chinese Hot Pot. However, as the name of the blog is Bargain Cuisine, I plumped for the £6.90 three course business lunch.

The business lunch isn't the usual layout of starter, main and dessert but two starters and a main. The list of starters is immense; a far cry from the business lunch staple of soup of the day, a cold spring roll or a glass of orange juice. BBQ means serious foodie business- sure, spring rolls are on the menu, but so are charcoal bananas, grilled quail and flame grilled aubergine. I opted for a Vegetarian Sweetcorn Soup and my goodness was it a huge portion. Roasting hot, dense and evidently freshly made, the quality was excellent.

In addition, I ordered a barbecued eggplant (aubergine) whilst my dining partner ordered vegetarian wontons. These came with a seaweed garnish, which in the absence of soy sauce, I sprinkled liberally on my soup±

The wontons weren't the usual type, but rather like small pasties with a curried samosa-type filling. Nonetheless, they were delicious. My eggplant was out of this world. Flame grilled slices of skewered aubergine in a piquant chili marinade, this was an imaginative alternative to bog standard spring rolls. Definitely a demonstration of BBQ's USP. These two starters left us feeling full, unsure as to whether we would finish the main course!

The veg in black bean sauce was plentiful, the sauce of a superior quality compared to other business lunches I have experienced. Mange tout, water chestnuts and a variety of Chinese mushrooms made it a colourful, eclectic experience and the EFR was of the same high quality. The icing on the cake was the spring onion garnish on the rice:

As you can see, this generous portion easily fed two and there was plenty left over! Sadly, there was no room for dessert, but this bountiful businessman's kept me full until way past teatime. BBQ definitely knocks spots off the bog standard 3 course offers in Chinatown and those bland all you can eat buffets that litter Manchester. (I don't know about you, but I can never see more than two dishes I want to eat at these so-called all you can eats). Potent spices, eclectic menu options and the luxury of two starters, BBQ offers a lunchtime bargain without compromising size and quality.

BBQ Handmade Noodles King on Urbanspoon