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Manchester is home to the second biggest Chinatown in the UK, and the third largest in Europe, though some of the best restaurants can also be found the grid centred on Faulkner Street. From humble rice dishes to fiery banquets, here are The Culture Trip's top picks in the city.

Happy Seasons

A restaurant that well and truly proves that you should never judge a book by its cover. Happy Seasons has garnered a reputation as being the place to go for great value, high quality, and authentic Cantonese food. There are ducks hanging in the window and the décor is very much the red and gold of Chinatown of yore, but this only adds to its charm. Star dishes include the trio of roast meats with rice, crispy duck, and the har gow, and there is also a generous vegetarian menu. With the majority of dishes giving you change from £10, wholesome Cantonese cooking, and uncharacteristically friendly staff, it isn’t difficult to see why this is a not-so-hidden gem in Manchester’s dining scene. More info.

Hunan

With the majority of 20th century Chinese immigration stemming from Hong Kong, for many years ‘Chinese cuisine’ was synonymous with ‘Cantonese cuisine’, but this is no longer the case. Variety is the spice of life, as indeed is spice, and those with a fiery palate can rejoice that Hunanese cuisine has now come to the rainy city. Hunan’s speciality is its hotpot, which comes in a choice of dry, Hunan style, or luxury, and all spice tolerances are catered for. A bold, colourful restaurant which serves up equally bold and colourful flavours. More info.

Red Chilli

Out of the frying pan and into the fire; this time we leap from Hunan to Beijing and Szechuan and Red Chilli, another choice for those who like some heat in their Chinese dishes. This subterranean restaurant is surprisingly plush on the inside, and likewise the menu proves to be a treasure trove of adventure. The seafood dishes are among their specialities – those with an asphalt tongue should try the ‘super spicy hot poached sea bass with dried chilli oil’ – and daring diners are spoiled for choice with dishes such as fried pig’s kidney and ox heart. A paradise for foodies that is as far from bland as you could possibly imagine. More info.

The Rice Bowl

For non-Chinatown Chinese food that offers up day-round dim sum and a friendly, family-centric atmosphere, The Rice Bowl is your port of call. This Cross Street restaurant first opened its doors in 1960, and it stands as one of the oldest in the city, and the oldest that is family-owned and run – currently by Jenny, niece of founder Wing Lau. The a la carte menu covers the classics of Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine, while taking some influences from Shanghai, where the Lau family hail from. Its set menus are also incredibly popular, and it has long proved itself as being one of the city’s most frequented lunch spots. Family, friends and food in an attractive, modern setting that is still true to its Chinese roots. More info.

Yang Sing

Since opening in 1977, this family-run (now in its third generation) Princess Street stalwart has gained itself international renown as one of the country’s finest purveyors of Chinese cuisine. Yang Sing hosts a rather comprehensive dim sum menu; dim sum is really the litmus test for Cantonese cuisine, and on tasting the selection – from the cheung fan to the perfect fluffy clouds of chair siu pork buns – its sustained reputation really is no wonder. The a la carte menu is equally satisfying, and they also offer a charming afternoon tea ‘the Cantonese way’. For those who want to fully ingratiate themselves in the Chinese dining tradition, the restaurant also offers regular Cantonese cookery classes with Harry Yeung and his team. More info.

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