During my amateur career as woman who eats food, I have frequented many an establishment in Manchester’s rather wonderful Chinatown.
Confession time – these visits have more often than not been towards the end of an evening rather than the start, meaning that this conversation between myself and my plus 1 in all life matters, occurs on a frequent basis:
“Let’s have Chinese.”
“Where was that lovely restaurant we went to last week?”
“I can’t remember!”
“Well what was it called?”
“I have no notion. But it was near the arch!”
Narrowed down splendidly.
A little like the time I asked a taxi driver to take me to ‘that Irish pub near a church called St Mary’s’. This was in Dublin… he eventually stopped laughing to take the time to pronounce me an eejit.
There was one occasion in London’s Chinatown when we found ourselves dining at the end of an evening, and proceeded to watch with great incredulity as the majority of the staff tucked into a KFC family bucket at the next table. We won’t be going there again (no doubt we will as have no idea what it was called or where it was).
In summary my memory recall is bad but my love for Chinese food is immense.
And so I was excited to hear that the fabulously named WowYauChow is the latest eatery to hit the Altrincham high street, promising a ‘diverse menu of British Chinese favourites and Chinese street food’.
The first thing that strikes is how ‘fun’ the aesthetics are, from their use of bold, beautiful colours, to the logo depicting the shade-wearing Maneki-neko (thank you Google) aka the fortune cat, and the art-laden walls featuring prints from Manchester’s own Stanley Chow.
Evidently taken very seriously, however, is the food. A perfectly sized menu offers Small Plates such as a quartet of furies (oh yes) – wings, tenders, ribs and prawns all treated to a salt and pepper chilli dressing, and the excellently named terracotta soldiers (prawn toast). In addition to British Chinese mains including favourites such as crispy chilli beef, sweet and sour chicken and prawn szechuan, street food favourites such as Bao enjoy their own section. I can think of no finer description of this food type than that used on the menu – steamed, soft, pillowy buns.
What I enjoy about a Chinese takeaway vs a sit down dinner in a restaurant is the banquet-esque nature of having a bit of everything rather than the formality of eating one’s prawn toast before receiving one’s chow mein.
At WowYauChow everything comes freshly prepared and served as it’s cooked, tapas style. And so to our bounty…
Arriving at our table whilst we perused the menu was the finest prawn crackers known to humanity. No exaggeration. Served with a sweet and sour sauce or chilli soya dip, they were crunchy, flavoursome and did swiftly disappear. From the Small Plates we ordered the beef rolls and wings of fury. The rolls were crispy on the outside, and filled with minced beef and pickled vegetables – incredibly moreish. The chicken wings were of the salt and pepper chilli nature and gave off heat whilst keeping their flavour, succulent and tasty.
From the British Chinese section, I ordered the prawns in black bean sauce with a side of soft noodles and beansprouts. From the Rice Bowls selection, my plus 1 chose the beef rice bowl. The prawns juicy and the vegetables, which included carrot, pepper, corn and mange tout, were fresh and cooked al dente, providing a pleasing range of textures and flavours. The rice bowl came with the beef, shredded ginger, spring onions and pickled vegetables served on top of the chosen egg fried rice, meaning that all the flavours perfectly permeated what can often be a dry accompaniment, leaving the dish flavoursome throughout.
With all dishes served together, the experience felt sociable and relaxed, removing the formality that can sometimes come with Chinese restaurants, at odds with food that is perfectly set up for sharing.
Another pleasing touch was the drinks menu, the highlights of which were the Asian inspired cocktails and craft beers. It’s amazing how well a Gin Fizz and a pint of Goose Island pairs with a right royal spread of noodles and rice.
All in all, WowYauChow gave great dining experience. With downstairs offering a relaxed café-style order at the bar system, and upstairs providing a more restaurant waiter-style affair, WowYauChow is able to meet all dining moods.
This is one Chinese restaurant whose name I definitely won’t be forgetting in a hurry…
WowYauChow, 59 Stamford New Rd, Altrincham WA14 1DS. For bookings, call 0161 928 9931 or email firstname.lastname@example.org