When F’s Auntie Ruth offered to babysit last week, we jumped at the chance for a date night, and some much needed quality time together. We decided to go into the city centre for some dinner and drinks, and were keen to go somewhere we hadn’t been before. After a little googling and Instagram searching, we decided to check out Mans Market, a Chinese restaurant that describes itself as an ‘accessible, new age, hip restaurant and bar concept’ – what a claim!
Entering into a small little door, with a huge neon sign above it, and leading down a stair case with the wall adorned with golden waving cats, it looks like it might be a traditional Chinese restaurant, but then Mans Market opens out into a large space with an industrial warehouse type look, with clean, simple furniture, exposed brick work, and vaguely humorous posters saying ‘Man with one chopstick go hungry’!
We were seated straightaway, and the waiter explained the ordering system, as we glanced over the menu. Man’s Market have adapted the usual speak to the waiter, and they deliver your food thing, and have gone for a bit of fun gimmick instead, where you scribble down your order on signs that say ‘feed me’, or ‘I’m thirsty’, and pop them on a huge peg hanging above the table. These are then collected and checked by the staff, and the orders put through to the kitchen. I quite like this idea, it is a total gimmick, and not very practical, but I like writing lists, and trying out new things, so it was a fun little quirk. Ali, however, loves chatting to waiting staff, usually trying to chat them up, or get free food from them, so it takes away some of that pleasure. (Saying that, we still managed a lot of chat with the staff as they checked the order, and when they brought the food out!).
We started with prawn crackers, or actually two huge prawn crackers, I’ve never seen a bigger prawn cracker – served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. They tasted pretty much like most other prawn crackers I’ve had, but nevertheless, a nice start to the meal. We ordered a cocktail each, to get out evening going, I had the Man’s Market version of a pornstar martini, the Kobe Tai, a vodka based cocktail with jasmine, lychee, pineapple and lime, with a shot of prosecco on the side – it was yum! Ali had a number called The Way of the Daiquiri, which was also really tasty and refreshing – pineapple and passionfruit shaken with rum, lime and sugar.
For our starters we shared three different dishes, I was pretty hungry and indecisive! We chose crispy duck spring rolls, siu may (pork and prawn dim sum), and mushroom, bamboo and corn dumplings. My favourite were the dim sum, a lovely soft salty dumpling, filled to the brim with succulent meat and fish. Ali really liked the duck spring rolls, they were beautifully crisp, and so full of filling they were bursting open. They were served with a sweet plum sauce, spring onion and cucumber, which complimented the salty duck. The mushroom dumplings were also really tasty, with a strong mushroom flavour and yummy batter.
We ordered a glass of wine, and a beer to keep us hydrated as our mains arrived, especially with all this salty Chinese food. Ali opted for the yellowbean and cashews, with chicken, which had a sweet soy sauce, plenty of succulent chicken, big chunks of carrot, and loads of cashews for added crunch. It went down very well!
I decided on the roast duck, char sui and greens. The pork was delightful, lovely and tender, with huge chunks of the stuff! The greens were served in a flavourful soy based sauce, and were well cooked, with that little crunch left. The duck, however, was really chewy! The flavour was nice, and there was, again, loads of it, but it was so chewy it became hard to eat. Overall, it was a great dish, the chef just needs to check the duck!
We shared some accompaniments to supplement our mains, some fried noodles, egg fried rice, and broccoli with chilli and garlic. I loved the vegetables! Broccoli is my favourite vegetable anyway, and it was totally jazzed up with the chilli and garlic, so tasty! The noodles and rice were simply noodles and rice, and were tasty just as they were!
We weren’t going to have dessert, just go to another bar for an after dinner drink, but the waitress told us that if we check in on Facebook we’d get a scoop of Northern Bloc ice cream for free! I can’t resist ice cream, especially Northern Bloc – it is the one of the best ice creams ever! I had chocolate and sea salt, and Ali had strawberry and black pepper, both of which were delicious and a lovely end to an enjoyable meal.
I enjoyed our dinner date at Mans Market, I found most of the food very good, apart from the duck, I enjoyed the atmosphere, and the little gimmicks made the experience a bit more fun! It’s definitely on my list as my go-to Chinese place in town!