A leisurely afternoon in Chinatown, Manchester, UK

With the wet weather continuing unabated here in the UK, this afternoon we decided to head for Chinatown in Manchester, have a late lunch and a bit of a look around. This is the second biggest Chinatown in the UK (after London) and one of the biggest in Europe. We’ve been many times before but I’ve never written about it here so thought I’d take the opportunity.

Manchester was looking its usual grey and wet self but brightened a little as we reached Chinatown thanks to some remnant decorations from the Chinese New Year and the colourful archway on Faulkner Street. We opted for the Little Yang Sing for lunch – an off-shoot of Manchester’s well-established Yang Sing restaurant that has been serving Chinese food on the city’s Princess Street (just to the south) for more than 30 years.

Chinatown Little Yang Sing

Manchester’s Chinatown grew mostly with Chinese restaurants back in the 1950s but, come the 1970s, other Chinese businesses began to spring up – bakeries, supermarkets, medicinal shops, legal services, financial centres and more. The Bank of East Asia even opened up a branch there just a few months ago – its first branch in the city.

We chose a range of dishes to share – spare ribs in a BBQ sauce, spring rolls, seaweed, chicken in a Cantonese sauce, special fried rice, chicken chow mein, etc. In all honesty, I didn’t feel the meal was anything that special but we still had an enjoyable and relaxing time.

Chinatown Chinese food

After lunch, we headed for one of the supermarkets to stock up on a few provisions that we can’t get as easily at home or that we can buy much cheaper and in larger quantities in Chinatown (for example, a 10kg bag of Jasmine rice for less than £15, which should last us at least until our next visit, whenever that may be!). You can get pretty much anything you want at the stores in Chinatown, including some fairly obscure-looking items that you won’t find in traditional UK supermarkets.

Chinatown supermarket

Finally, we called in at a shop selling a vast range of miscellaenous Chinese items and picked up a couple of pairs of child-friendly chopsticks to help our boys master an art they were struggling with an hour earlier!

If you’re ever faced with a rainy day and are not sure what to do, I’d recommend a visit to your nearest Chinatown for a bit of a change. We certainly enjoyed our afternoon out. Perhaps next time we should pay a visit when it’s actually Chinese New Year to witness the celebrations.

Chinatown

When was the last time you visited a city’s Chinatown, which one was it, and what did you think?

Comments (11)

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  1. I’ve yet to visit Manchester but I’m regularly in London and really must make the time to explore China Town properly, which would, of course, have to include a meal (or two) there. You say the meal you had in Manchester was nothing special but boy does it look good! Right up my street.

  2. Paul Johnson says:

    Perhaps it’s also due to my tastes changing, Kat… I used to really enjoy Chinese food but I think I feel a bit more indifferent towards it now. I’m much more a fan of Thai food, or at least the no doubt Anglicised version we get here in the UK (I have yet to visit Thailand but would love to do so for the food alone).

    As for visiting Chinatown, you have a substantial one in London, close to Leicester Square. I’ve not been to it, but am sure it must be well worth a visit.

  3. I am in the “I love Chinese Food” camp! The photo made me crave a hit… I am not that familiar with Manchester but went there a few times for work many years ago and always headed to China Town for dinner and it was always pretty awesome. It was a feature I had totally forgotten about and thanks for the reminder. The Chinese restaurants here in London are much more “hardcore” in that they really cater for traditional Chinese and always have the very off putting ducks hanging and seemingly “festering”….

  4. Paul Johnson says:

    Ah yes… I can see how that might be a little bit off-putting, Gary! I’m sure the EU must have something to say about that these days – I know they tried to clamp down on the various meats the Spanish like to hang in their shops and bars…

  5. Mike says:

    I absolutely love Asian food of any kind and have been attracted to its myriad of flavors since my first trip to SE Asia in 1973. (I know you are thinking, my he is an old man)!

    Hate to admit this, but I have been all over Asia and parts of Latin America but have never stepped foot in Europe. Our oldest son and my wife and I are trying to make in the fall this year.

    In addition I cook Asian food all the time and have a Asian market that I purchase my rice, Miso paste, Udon & Soba noodles, tofu and other items on a weekly basis. We have a large contingent of Asians in the Austin market. Now you have made me want Peking Duck Paul which is my favorite Asian dish!
    Mike

  6. Paul Johnson says:

    Peking Duck is hard to beat, I have to admit!

    We had a stir fry of just noodles, beansprouts and sesame oil for lunch today, as a result of our shopping in one of the supermarkets. The beansprouts you can buy by the bucket-load for not very much, but unfortunately they don’t keep for long so you have to eat them fairly quickly… you can get them in our local supermarket, but they are three times the cost here.

    Where in Europe are you planning on visiting?

  7. Mike says:

    Paul,
    My son has been to parts (Spain, England, France and Italy)of western Europe and wants to other areas of Europe. He is talking Milan-Zurich-Munich-Prague-Berlin. We will see.
    Mike

  8. Lee Briggs says:

    I knew there was a Chinatown in London, but being from the US, I never thought about Manchester as having one. My view of Manchester, probably out of date and incorrect anyway, was as an industrial city and I never thought much more about it than that. From your description it looks like a place that is worthy of a visit on some future trip to England.
    I have walked through Chinatown in New York, but never really explored it. This post inspires me to tarry a little longer there the next time I’m in New York.

  9. It’s always nice to comment on your hometown and even though I am now living in the States, reading this makes me miss ‘home’ even more.

    Attending the University of Manchester for my undergraduate degree, I was a frequent visitor to Chinatown which despite being an avid hater of Chinese food is a little surprising. The food in many of these restaurants though is much different to what you expect in standard Chinese take-aways, almost a sense of uniqueness that you would generally expect from the home country of the cuisine (not that I have visited China but you can see where I am coming from!)

    Manchester is a great city for anyone visiting England and I would always encourage folks to head to Chinatown and nearby Deansgate Locks to sample the cuisines on offer there.

  10. Paul Johnson says:

    Your view of Manchester isn’t so far off the mark, Lee… however, it’s become much more lively and vibrant in the last decade or so, shaking off much of the gloom that’s associated with its industrial past.

    It’s actually well worth visiting as a tourist, with a number of good museums and art galleries, some great restaurants (I recommend the Chaophrya Thai restaurant) and events venues, not to mention the football… :)

  11. Paul Johnson says:

    I’m from Manchester too, Chris… I was born there and lived in the Hale/Altrincham area until I was about 15. I’m only an hour and a half away now… don’t go all that often, but I imagine I get to visit with a little more frequency than you now that you’ve crossed the pond… I do go back to watch the football from time to time. Of course, I support THE team in Manchester (Altrincham FC ;) )

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