The Best Of Newcastle's Chinatown (2006)
Never mind waiting for the Chinese New Year to experience the rich taste of the Orient. Chinese food is rich, tasty, fast and nutritious and on Newcastle's Stowell Street - right next to the Great Wall (or at least old city wall) - you have plenty of choice. Appropriately named and located near to the newly built Chinese Arch is Landmark, which like the arch was established in 2005. This unorthodox name for a Chinese restaurant is also echoed in the styling of the place -- thoroughly modern. It looks chic, sophisticated and just a little expensive, just the sort of place you might want to spend some time having a drink in at the bar or sitting in the large, full length window seat area. With its discreetly placed large plasma screens for sports, it is welcoming to those who just want a drink as much as to those who want to dig into something exotic in an intimate and stylish restaurant. Some of the tables are skirted with draped net curtains in a semi-circular fashion around fixed circular seats. The dining area just a few steps down is more traditional in its flexible arrangement, which is ideal for hiring out or as a function room. A popular item on the menu here is the Pagoda Banquet - an £18pp set meal for two or three people, comprising of chicken and sweetcorn soup, aromatic crispy duck (served with steamed pancake, spring onion and cucumber salad), stir fried fillet steak with black pepper sauce, quick fried king prawns in black bean sauce, and special fried rice. Another recommended and popular dish on the menu is a seafood speciality - the stir fried whole fresh lobster in sea spiced chilli sauce (£28).
One restaurant that comes tripping off the tongue with hardly a moment's hesitation is Treasure, (pictured above), probably the most popular Chinese in town, and certainly well known within the Chinese community. What is so appealing about Treasure is their willingness to stay open late -- very late, until 2am in fact. The styling is modern but with traditional features, and has a nice light and easy feel to it. Certainly the laughing Buddha installed here seems quite content. It has a comfortable capacity of 90 on the ground floor, while the upper function room seats 60, with windows that look out onto the Stowell Street below. The service is fast but not rushed, just professional. They do Dim Sum and serve up cuisine from all over China. A highlight is steamed carp with spicy sauce, chilli and seasoning (£8.50). A generous selection of around 30 wines to choose from and a manager who keeps his eye on the ball.
King Neptune appeared in the Egon Ronay guides for 1993, 1995 and 1997. It's one of the more comfortable restaurants on Stowell Street, decked out in a modern blue decor upstairs serving up to 50, and warm reds with comfortable seating downstairs, where it serves up to 60 covers. Specialising in Peking-style seafood, it also does a handsome vegetarian platter. Aromatic crispy duck is one of their more popular dishes here. They're particularly proud of their Great Wall wine. Family friendly, perhaps due in part to the fact its family run too, and those with small children will testify they'll happily warm up baby meals.
Mangos is worth a visit. Nice light modern restaurant which is ideal if you want a fresh approach to your Chinese dining experience. Light wood abounds, but the tables are sumptuously laid with thick white and mango/peach tablecloths, the whole effect being a pleasing one. Clean lines and a good range of wines behind a decent bar. Authentic Chinese food, and certainly a good sign is the fact you'll find many Chinese people eat here.
For sheer value for money, combined with a good reputation, Lau's Buffet King is one of the newer, unfussy, modern and larger restaurants on Stowell Street. With a capacity for 200, it's not one of the quietest venues here. But they do offer value for money as this is a buffet restaurant with over 60 dishes to choose from, and you can eat for between £4.99 and £7.99 depending on what time of the day you visit (it opens ay 11.45am). And as for children, as long as they're under 4ft 11 inches in height, they get to eat for only £2.99. Good for families, and all their dishes are clearly labelled.
Looking beyond Chinatown, the highly acclaimed Waterside Palace is situated by the River Tyne and looks every inch the genuine article in all its traditional finery -- pagoda roof, gilding, the lot. With its comfortable and stylish interior, this is many people's favourite Chinese. An interesting location too, just on the south bank by the Tyne Bridge.
On the north side of town in Jesmond, Kevin Liu's Mandalay deserves a mention. Situated just off the Osborne Road, this smart and modern venue prides itself on quality all round. This is very much a western/oriental fusion restaurant. Their Blue Plate is recommended and they also do a Chinese-style tapas and have a private function room for hire that accommodates up to 30 people.
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