I don’t know about you, but when I am trying to concentrate on work, I have to listen or watch something easy. I religiously watch reruns of Friends or Sex and the City, or Food Network. I swear, I am addicted to cooking shows despite them making me feel incredibly hungry all the time! The Food Network is where I was first introduced to British Chinese chef Ching He Huang. Her passion for making Chinese food easier to cook at home was infectious and it was Ching’s tips that I use every time to make perfect egg fried rice. Can you imagine my excitement when I was invited to a special evening at Yu in Alderley Edge with Ching behind the pass? You can’t. I was positively giddy.
Whilst Chinese would always be my first choice of cuisine for takeaway, I don’t often visit Chinese restaurants when eating out. I’m not sure why but I was curious to see if Yu would change my mind. Our appetites were whetted with these Seaweed Nori Charcoal Tempura canapes. The seaweed coating was crispy, housing soft yet sticky rice that was perfectly seasoned, preventing it being bland.
The majority of the dishes on the evening were sharing plates, something I love as it means you get to try more. The first was Sweet and Sour Baby Squid with Chilli and Kumquats. Ching described it as ‘a taste of Taiwan’ and it was certainly a way to get me longing for a trip there! The soft and flavourful squid was paired with crunchy beansprouts in a light and fragrant sauce. The kumquats added a sweet yet slightly sour element that was really unique, I wanted more.
More Taiwan inspiration followed with these Taiwanese Beef Balls. They were incredibly fragrant with lemongrass, coriander and mint throughout. They were rich but lightened up with the lettuce wrap, rather than something heavier.
It is really difficult to choose favourites from this menu, but I think the Golden Macanese Black Cod was mine. The cod was fresh and soft, melting in the mouth. The addition of chilli cut through the light yet creamy sauce beautifully that reminded me of the fragrant curries I have enjoyed in Thailand.
Next was a dish from head chef Victor Yu and his Roasted Char Sui Pork. The meat was soft and tender, dressed with a sticky sauce that I would have welcomed more of. I loved the simplicity of the dish and it is something I would order as a main with a portion of rice.
I also loved the Spicy Honey Garlic Prawns with Water Chestnuts. They certainly had a heat but it was a light build up rather than ‘punch you around the face’ heat. The water chestnuts added a light crunch to cool things down too, a lovely dish.
Since becoming obsessed with Pad Thai, I have taken a real liking to tofu so I was excited to try the Kung Pao Tofu. The flavours were intense with layers that developed, the more I ate. First a hit of spice, followed by a subtle sweetness and then all the umami. The tofu was soft but had taken on the gorgeous kung pao flavours so well.
The Satay Chicken Stir Fry was the sort of thing I wish my stir fries tasted like at home. Rich and flavourful with lots of chicken, lots of sauce. Perfect to be mopped up with a bowl of jasmine rice.
The last of the main course dishes was the Steamed Gai Lan with Oyster Sauce. There was real hit of ginger from the sauce and the greens had been cooked through but to the point where they still had bite. Obviously all dishes should have some vegetables and usually they get left unloved. These were eaten and enjoyed just as much as the other dishes on the menu.
To end the evening we were presented with a dessert of Lychee Vanilla Ice Cream, Frozen Mango, Passionfruit and Gingerbread Crumb. It was totally tropical with juicy fruit flavours and great texture from the ginger crumb. I particularly loved the honeyed florentine and would welcome a box or 2 under the tree this Christmas.
The combination of Ching and Victor’s cooking was incredible and they complimented each other perfectly. You would think that 2 different chefs with their own individual style and technique would clash, but not here. The menu was executed well and designed so well. I hope Ching comes back to the North to wow us with more of her cooking, and Yu Alderley Edge have a new regular. The restaurant is plush and upmarket, as you would expect from a venue in Alderley Edge. That said the staff are welcoming and friendly, chatty and warm. I can’t wait to go back, you really need to try it.
I was invited to dine as a guest of Yu Alderley Edge and was not asked to pay for my food.