Excellent word of mouth led us to have lunch at the Shanghai Manor right in Sunderland's city centre. The place was empty (we had expected it to be packed as it was a Bank Holiday) save for a table of Chinese students who stared at us from the moment we opened the door to the moment we sat down at a table. Very off putting, but, hey, that's mainlanders for you...
Anyway, the menu was nicely presented with both familiar and unfamiliar dishes available with a number of drinks you don't often see elsewhere.
One of our party asked the waiter about one of the dishes (it helps if you have a Mandarin speaker with you) and all he could do was shrug his shoulders saying that he "didn't know". There was no offer to go into the kitchen to find out or to ask his manager, very unprofessional, but we let it slide.
We eventually ordered, with the help from a supervisor/manager, who recommended dishes and even told us which dishes not to order as they "weren't very good". Unexpected, but helpful, hopefully the chef won't be reading this review, as his/her feelings could be hurt by that comment.
Anyway, the food came and it was actually very, very nice. It didn't match the hype that friends built up but it was good food. The steamed rice with pork in bamboo was especially good, though more pork wouldn't have gone amiss, but there was plenty of steamed rice. The spicy chicken dishes we ordered were also good, but no different to say "Red Diner" or "Happiness Inn" in Newcastle upon Tyne. What was a HUGE disappointment was the drink I ordered, lemon honey with jelly juice drink, which translated as "four slices of lemon with hot water and a slither of jelly for £2.20 (if I remember correctly)". I suppose it was my fault for expecting something more exotic than Lemsip...
Still, it's worth going if you live in Sunderland or very nearby, it certainly isn't worth a trip out if you live further afield.
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