Harley Young tries kosher Chinese cuisine and sushi in North Manchester
I’ve only ever been to Prestwich once very briefly to look at a house when my partner and I first moved to Manchester. It seemed a bit too far out from the city centre for my lack of driving skills (and terrible sense of direction) to cope with.
We ended up settling on a terraced house in Newton Heath for six months, before being broken into and realising we probably should have just gone with Prestwich.
Pagoda definitely has some potential, given the care and presentation of the restaurant
Fast-forward two and a bit years to last Monday - my 25th birthday. Let’s be honest, Mondays are a pretty crap day by anyone's standard. But a birthday on a Monday? You might as well not even bother.
My plan for the day had already been thwarted. Manchester Museum is shut on a Monday; of course, even tour guides and curators hate Mondays.
Perhaps it served me right for being so boring in my mid-20s. Maybe I should have been nursing a throbbing head from a weekend bender instead of getting excited over a day off work. That and the prospect of eyeing up some animal bones and mummified carcasses to help make me feel a bit younger (I’ve heard the new refurb is pretty good).
Determined to not let my annual leave go to waste, I decided to try something a bit different - a kosher Chinese grill and sushi bar that I’d overheard my editor mention he’d spotted the week before.
My partner and I arrived shortly after the restaurant opened for the evening. It was quiet, but the slow pace was admittedly something I’d expected for a Monday, so we didn’t let this deter us.
The server greeted us with a friendly smile and led us to our table, placing a menu either side of the lovingly pressed, crease-free tablecloth. He left us to soak up the atmosphere for a few minutes.
A piano rendition of Evanescence’s ‘My Immortal’ played softly over the restaurant speakers - certainly beautiful, but perhaps a bit too emotional a song for a Monday tea time. Luckily we quickly realised that it was a playlist of instrumental covers and an Ed Sheeran track was soon on its way to pick the mood back up.
We opted for a bottle of house white from the three options available on the menu; house white, house red and house rosé. Our server came back with a bottle of Chateau Les Riganes 2020.
As we sipped and reminisced on our recent time in Bordeaux we looked out onto Bury Old Road road. Of course, it wasn’t quite the same experience, but the wine was pleasant nonetheless.
We decided to share a quarter of duck with pancakes as a starter whilst mulling over the rest of the menu on offer. Intrigued by the concept of chicken ‘sushi poppers’, we ordered a portion of those as well.
The duck arrived first, heaped with cucumber, spring onions and enough pancakes to feed a seven nation army (unfortunately, we didn’t get to hear a piano cover of that one). We assembled our first duck pancake, drizzled with hoisin sauce, and took a bite.
The cucumber and spring onions were fresh and the flavours were there, but the duck was dry and needed a lot of encouragement from the hoisin sauce. So much, in fact that we ran out of sauce quite early on and had to abandon the duck.
Thankfully, by now, our sushi chicken poppers were ready (pictured above in the header image). The dish was brought over to us from the sushi bar at the front, where the chef had been carefully crafting whilst setting up for the evening ahead. The ‘poppers’ were well presented, garnished with various sauces and a sprig of herbs precariously balanced on top.
The texture was unusual; it reminded me of a mixture between dumplings in a stew and a ball of stuffing on a Sunday roast. These balls of doughy sushi ingredients were pretty tasty as a sharing portion, but would probably be too much stodge for one person to manage on their own. Even we struggled to polish off the last ball on the plate.
Feeling defeated by the hefty portion of chicken sushi poppers, we decided to share a main so that there was still space for dessert - logical, of course.
We paired some egg fried rice with a portion of salmon in teriyaki sauce. The rice was fluffy, light and came in a decent-sized portion. However, the teriyaki salmon was unfortunately lacking. We expected a piece of salmon drizzled in teriyaki, but instead the dish consisted of salmon bites drenched in sauce and we weren’t overly fond of the onions and peppers that looked to be added raw.
We then had a quick glance at the dessert section of the menu before ordering the ‘No.1 praline ice cream’. A beautifully presented dessert but not made in house. Whether in transit or in storage, the dish had unfortunately suffered some freezer burns and didn’t have all that much flavour when we managed to crack into the soft interior after a few hearty whacks with the spoon.
The restaurant is well looked after appearance-wise, but I was disappointed by the food this time. Especially given that the bill was already at triple figures and we’d only had one main and one dessert to share.
As we were settling up, two families walked in ready to start their dining experience. Whilst dining, a handful of customers popped in, placing and collecting take-out orders, which showed promise that it’s popular within the community.
The staff are friendly and helpful, on the ball and constantly working, whether it be serving, prepping food or dressing tables.
Pagoda definitely has some potential, given the care and presentation of the restaurant building itself. But unfortunately, having had the time to digest, I realised I'd had takeaway Chinese meals of the same calibre for a fraction of the price and enjoyed them much more.
Perhaps we arrived before the chefs had got into their flow for the evening, but, considering we were the only table in at the time, we expected a bit more love from the dishes presented.
1 Park Hill, Bury Old Rd, Prestwich, Manchester M25 0FX
Follow Harley Young on Twitter @Harley__Young
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidentials and completely independent of any commercial relationship. They are a first-person account of one visit by one, knowledgeable restaurant reviewer and don't represent the company as a whole.
Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
¼ duck & pancakes 4, chicken sushi ‘poppers’ 4, salmon in teriyaki sauce 3, egg fried rice 6, no.1 praline ice cream 4.
Our server was polite and helpful.
Calming music in a well-dressed venue, but it was empty when I visited.