Authentic Chinese food can be difficult to come across. Although regrettably, for me the Chinese take-away chip does tick the box from time to time, you still can’t sway me on the MSG-ridden sweet and sour sauce.
Mans Market is a ‘new age, hip, Chinese restaurant/bar’ slap bang in the middle of Leeds city centre on Wellington Street. The restaurant is next to the cocktail bar Lazy Lounge, which would make a great post-meal night-cap destination.
Mans Market opened in November 2016 – its quirky, vibrant and ‘hip’ (as the restaurant describes it) concept definitely fills a void in my opinion. I can’t think of anywhere else in Leeds city centre where you can get cheap, decent Chinese fast-food, and enjoy a Hong Kong Island Ice Tea with it.
Throughout January Mans Market is offering 2-4-1 main courses, so a perfect time to pay a visit. Before I go on, I apologise for the lack of imagery in this post – my phone died half way through the meal.
A good way to compare the atmosphere in Mans Market is a slightly more sophisticated Zaap Thai. There’s the brilliant clutter and up-cycled Chinese tat littered everywhere, which adds to the authenticity.
When you order your food in Mans Market, you write your selection on a card and peg it to a washing line above your head. The waiter/waitress then collects your card. Really fun (but also a bit of a wasted gimmick as the waiter still reads out your order and writes it down).
On our ‘drink me’ card, my friend asked for a sparkling water with some fruit in (a great illusion for those doing dry January) and I had half a beer.
To start we shared the crispy aromatic duck rolls (£6.50)(I can’t ever say that without thinking of Homer Simpson), and the pork and prawn dim sum (£4.50).
The duck rolls were to die for. Shredded duck wrapped in a super-light rice paper. They were a decent size, and came with a gorgeous sweet and sticky hoisin sauce and spring onions. The dim sum were perfect too, not clammy in any way.
For mains, we both went for the roast duck, pork and greens. One side of steamed rice (£2.00) was enough to share, and we also got the broccoli chili and garlic side (£3.50).
There’s a good variety of noodle, rice and meat dishes on the menu, which are pretty much all available as a vegetarian dish too.
I was hoping the greens with my main meant pak-choi, and it did. Lovely and crunchy, topped with pretty much a full sliced duck breast with that crispy skin. For me the star of the show was the pork. Softer and slightly more flavoursome than the duck. The side of the wok-fried broccoli was an excellent idea – again the broccoli was nice and crunchy, covered in a sweet dark sauce.
To say the meal only cost £15 in total, and although the hanging up of the order cards on a washing line seemed to be a bit of an unnecessary gimmick that delayed service slightly, I would definitely return to Mans Market. It’s healthy, simple Chinese food, in a pretty cool environment.
I mean, there’s Chinese waving cats everywhere – what more could you want?