Chinese taster menus have been a bit like buses recently, you wait for ages then two come along at once. Plus, they were good value for money, local and you end up sitting with strangers and making small talk. But that’s where the similarities end.
The first was at Roots Restaurant, the new restaurant connected to Accrington and Rossendale college. Ric and I doubled dated with our friends Gareth and Becca (collectively known as The Breakfast Club FYI). This was a venture by level 3 learner Charlotte Benbow, a former pupil who was head chef for the night. She planned, prepped and produced an amazing 5 course taster menu for her qualification which was up to the standard of any fancy restaurant.
First up was the duck / veggie Spring rolls which went down a storm with all of us, washed down with lychee martinis. The veggie starter was a super tasty Vietnamese sweet and sour salad while the meat eaters dived into scallops and kale (I failed to mention I ate seafood and was slightly jealous of their dish but my salad more than made up for that.)
The palate cleanser of dragon fruit and lychee sorbet was just the tonic midway through the meal. The veggie main course came in the form of smoked tofu and shiitake stir fry which was so good I think I spied the meat eaters eyeing it up while they wolfed down their (equally yummy I’ve been told) char Sui pork.
We were all in agreement that the dessert was one of the standout dishes; lemongrass and chilli infused mousse with fruit sushi.
The whole night was a huge success and Charlotte’s passion for cooking shone through as she came and chatted to all the tables at the end. Service was very professional, the decor in the restaurant was modern and stylish and the presentation, not to mention the taste, was amazing.
The college have more speciality nights coming up including Greek, Spanish and French so get yourself booked in! Hopefully see you there 😊
Fast forward a week later and I was lucky enough to find myself at Chinese taster night number 2. This came courtesy of Jenny Phung at Jade Garden in Accrington, where she’s hosting 6 weeks of supper clubs every Thursday. Jenny’s vision is to show that there’s more to Chinese food than your bog standard takeaway (although there is definitely a time and a place for these, they saw me through many a hangover / fear-filled Sunday during the Oakenshaw party years™). She uses fresh ingredients and caters for veggies, vegans and the health conscious without compromising on taste.
We were seated in traditional Chinese restaurant style, all grouped together (Wagamama style) and all dishes were served to share between us all. First up was the yummy Sichuan cucumbers and pickled mooli.
My friend Lianne and I were sandwiched between two couples with whom we soon bonded over the first course of garlicky green gyozas. I have not been able to stop thinking of these since that night, they were one of the tastiest things I’ve eaten in ages. My photography skills do not do them justice.
It’s a good job she did as the equally delicious tofu baos were up next. Luckily I got dibs on these as my newly found friends (Lianne not included under that title) opted for the chicken version first.
Next up were big tasty sharing dishes of chilli and ginger pak choi, ginger spring onion noodles and marinated bean sprouts.
The night was topped off by an amazing vegan chocolate and mango silk pie that Deliciously Ella would’ve been proud of. Some of my comrades fell at the wayside here and we’re unable to finish this from being too full but I dug deep and got the job done, it was far too tasty not to.