One of the perks of my job is that I work weekends, meaning I have two glorious days off in the week to make the most of cheap business lunches in the city. (Yes, unfortunately food blogging isn't my job- maybe one day!) Today I fancied being a tourist in my own city and visiting the museum, so decided to look for a cheapo deal in the vicinity. After walking through the foodie nuclear apocalypse that is Queen Square- the disgusting chav bolthole that is Tso's, the Yummy Mummy soulless chain that is Ask, the frozen meal tapas gone to Iceland La Tasca and the swearword of good food that is N*ndo's (I still can't bear to write it)- I backtracked to the old classic Shangri-La, where I spotted a business lunch offer.
Shangri-La has been around for decades and is your typical English Chinese albeit not in Chinatown. In recent years, the quality had declined and had became one of those places to you only go at 2am and have the tastebud equivalent of beer goggles firmly on. It also got a bad hygiene rating on Scores on the Doors but thanks to getting its 5 stars back and good reports from my workmates, I gave the new, improved Shangri another whirl. I had not been since 2008 where I feasted on a deep fried spongelike spring roll and a tasteless load of water chestnuts fried in rancid soy sauce, so needless to say I was dubious.
I got great vibes when I went in. The staff were now friendly and welcoming and gave me and my dining partner a great table down the back where we could have a reasonably private conversation. The deal consisted of 3 courses and a drink for £7.50- not bad!
My first course was this deliciously potent Vegetarian Hot and Sour soup- portion size generous, the right balance of hot and sour and yummy chunks of tofu padding it out.
Delicious- I feared I'd be too full by the time the main course came! Second course was veggie spring rolls with a seaweed garnish.
The spring rolls were huge and filled with a curry and glass noodle filling. Delish! The seaweed was a nice touch too, better than the inedible carrot or turnip carved into a flower. What is the point of those and more importantly, do they get re-used? Oh dear, I was definitely not going to manage the main event, beancurd fried with kung po sauce with egg fried rice.
The sauce had a right chili kick without being too salty, the egg fried rice fresh, fluffy and a generous portion. My only complaint was my beancurd was a little too fried and made it lack the spongy, bouncy taste that I prefer. Nonetheless, it was a delicious meal and the portion size left no room for complaint (or dessert for that matter!)
Shangri La is definitely on top form again and on course to re-establish its good rep it had back in the 1990s. An oldie but a goodie, it is staring all these young. glitzy pretenders in the face. Trendy restaurants have came and gone again during the time the Shangri La has been around, that's got to stand for something. Great food, pleasant atmosphere and an even better price.
The good: portion size, great atmosphere and lots of choice for veggies
The bad: tofu was a little greasy