Time for Society

I was up in Manchester for some meetings. After a long morning meeting I headed out into Manchester city centre for something to eat. On previous visits to Manchester I had seen Society before, I had even gone in there to see what it was like, but I had never actually eaten there. So, on this walk around the centre, and having looked around a few places, I ended up at Society.

A fresh addition to the city’s vibrant cultural space, Society is a hub of street food, craft beer, wine and cocktails and boasts an impressive line-up of talented independent traders. Society features four independently-owned kitchens, from the towering burgers of Slap & Pickle, pan-Asian specialists Manzoku Street Food, flavoursome Indian street food from Chaat Cart and experts in Korean street food, Yoki Social Table. Society also houses a cocktail bar and specialist taproom by craft brewery Vocation.    

The process is quite simple, take a seat, note your table number, scan in the QR code, place your order on your phone and wait for your food. With some of the traders you can order at the counter if you want to.

I did first peruse the different (phyiscal) menus and noted that Manzoku had a January special of bao buns. Now I quite like a good bao bun, so this was quite tempting.

I sat down at a table with a glass of water from the bar and looked over the menu. I decided to have the crispy chicken bao buns with a portion of crispy squid.

The January Special Bao Chicken was two fluffy bao buns filled with ginger and garlic chicken thigh in a crispy coating, with Japanese pickled slaw.

They looked great. The chicken was a little dry and overcooked for me, but did have a nice flavour. The rest of the dish was great, fresh and flavoursome.

Alongside I had the Spicy Salt & Pepper Squid. This was deep fried marinated crispy salt & pepper squid with a kick, chilli mayo, and togarashi spice.

When eating this I was reminded of the chilli squid I have eaten at Wagamama. It was crispy on the outside, tender squid on the inside. Nice spicing and I enjoyed the chilli mayo.

Overall I did like both dishes and really enjoyed them. It was a little more than I would normally pay for lunch, but I do think it was value for money. I would certainly have a night out at Society, having a beer and a few dishes from the different street food traders.

Eating at the Cranside Kitchen

Cranside Kitchen

I was staying in a hotel in Glasgow close to the SECC where I was attending a conference. I had planned to just eat in the hotel restaurant, but found that the restaurant wasn’t open. Well that wasn’t helpful. I had a look around the area on Google Maps and found that, apart from other hotel restaurants there wasn’t much choice close by. I could have walked up to Argyle Street, but it was dark and cold, and to be honest I didn’t fancy walking back.

I did though went for a walk and looked at the Cranside Kitchen, from the outside it looked like it was now an Italian place called Romano’s. I wasn’t sure if I wanted Italian, so walked around the area a bit more, but didn’t find anywhere else apart from some hotel restaurants.

In the end I went to Cranside Kitchen. I found out then it was a little more than an Italian place. You scanned the QR code on the table and placed your order online. As well as the Italian menu, there was also Chinese, Thai and Japanese. So I discovered I had a wider choice of what I could eat.

Cranside Kitchen menu

I actually prefer proper restaurant service, but I can see the advantages of this kind of system. You can order from different places so if you were in a group you could order what everyone wants. It makes splitting the bill simpler, as people can order and pay for their own food and drinks. It is also easy to add stuff to the order as well. I spent some time looking over the menu before choosing what I wanted to eat. It was quite a challenge as there were quite a few choices that I liked the sound of.

In the end I went with the Seafood Cha Han, this was Japanese style wok fried rice topped with mayo and mix sesame.

Seafood Cha Han

I really liked this dish, it was fresh, full of flavour,  and really delicious. 

I also ordered some Bao Bun Box. You had to order a minimum of two buns, I decided to order three. I went with the chicken karaage, aromatic duck and enoki mushroom.

When the bamboo box arrived I was a little surprised by the size of the buns, they were bigger than I expected (and have had at other places). I think I could have got away with just two buns.

Bao Bun Box

The aromatic duck was my least favourite of the three, it was cooked duck in hoisin sauce. The chicken karaage was deep fried battered marinated chicken in a spicy sauce. The enoki mushroom was surprising, it was also battered and deep fried. The mushroom bao bun was my favourite.

As I had paid when I ordered, I could leave the restaurant when I had finished and wanted to. 

Mushroom Bao Buns

I was at my local M&S Food Hall getting a few things, when I decided I wanted to get something for lunch. I was planning to get some bread and cheese when I saw a box of M&S Plant Kitchen 6 Hoisin Bao Buns, from their Plant Kitchen range, which had been reduced. 

Juicy and savoury shredded shiitake mushrooms in a hoisin sauce with fluffy bao buns.

So I thought to myself I like bao buns, and decided to give it a try.

Back home I opened the box and I was a little disappointed. The box contained a pack of bao buns and a sachet containing the shredded shiitake mushrooms in the hoisin sauce. Not quite what I was expecting, and certainly, containing none of the garnishes that were on the box. There was no crispy onions, coriander, peanuts or fresh chilli.

It was easy to prepare, just requiring use of the microwave. I garnished my bao buns with some peashoots.

The sauce was rather too rich and savoury for me and there wasn’t enough mushroom. I think I would have bought some shiitake mushrooms, cooked them in a frying pan and used them with the sauce.

Would I get the box again? Well I got them for £3.18 reduced from the normal price which was £5. Even though they were reduced, I still thought they were overpriced. At £5 for the box I think they are well overpriced. So, no I won’t be buying it again. I have bought (plain) bao buns from M&S before and I like those.

I think I will get some plain bao buns, and then cook my own shiitake mushrooms in a sauce. I would then garnish with fresh coriander, peanuts and some chilli. For £5 I could probably buy all the fresh ingredients alongside the bao buns from M&S.

Grilled Chicken Bao Bun

I was up in Manchester looking for somewhere for lunch and Banh Mi Co Ba on the Oxford Road has been somewhere I have been meaning to try for a while. They have a wide ranging menu, but I ordered the Grilled Chicken Bao Bun.

The Bao was filled with salad, chicken dressed with sauce.

I will say I wasn’t impressed, I’ve had better and even made better myself. The Bao was a little cold, the chicken was reheated and I wouldn’t have said it was grilled. The salad was probably too much and I would have served it with less. The sauce was nice though.

Well I wasn’t impressed

At the Finzels Reach Market I decided to add a pork belly bao bun from the Ah-Ma’s Dumplings stall to my lunch.

I have had their dumplings before and had enjoyed them. So I had quite high expectations about the bao bun.

However it was awful, dry and little or no flavour. I’ve had much better bao buns from other places, this was a real disappointment. Also the accompaniments were not very nice either, the cabbage was not very pleasant and the cucumber was just okay.

I won’t be repeating the experience.

Chicken Bao Buns

Bao Buns

I made myself some chicken bao buns for my lunch.

I took some cooked chicken I had in the fridge. I heated up the chicken by pan frying and adding some miso sauce.

I used some bao buns from M&S, I microwaved the bao buns to heat them through. 

Once the chicken was hot, I added it to the bao buns, I added some shredded romaine lettuce and then added some Yo! Japanese Creamy Mayonnaise.

I then folded the bao buns and ate them.

More Bao Buns Please

I really do enjoy a good bao bun and my first encounter with the Master Bao eatery at Westfield was back in December 2019 and  a return visit in January 2020. Restrictions have meant that January was my last visit to the Westfield shopping centre. However a recent return visit and needing lunch, meant I could revisit Master Bao once more.

I went with the meal deal of two bao buns and a side. I ordered the Prawn Bao and the Shiitake Mushroom Bao. The side I chose was fried chicken.

The Prawn Bao contained marinated king prawns, fried, pickled mooli, spiced spring onions.

Prawn Bao contained marinated king prawns, fried, pickled mooli, spiced spring onions

This was something I had not had before at Master Bao and it was rather good. The prawns tasted of prawn and the picked mooli added sharpness and bite to the softness of the bao bun and prawns. Really delicious.

Whilst the Shiitake Mushroom Bao had teriyaki shiitake mushrooms, pickled onions, miso.

Shiitake Mushroom Bao had teriyaki shiitake mushrooms, pickled onions, miso

I have had this a few times now, and it was nice, not as much mushroom as I have had on previous visits, but still delicious.

The fried chicken was nice.

fried chicken

Simple and served with some sliced spring onions.

I really enjoyed the food and it was nice to have it again.

Tasty Bao Buns

I quite like Bao Buns. I don’t actually recall when I had my first Bao Bun, a filled steam bun, but I think it was from the SheSellsSushi stall at one of the Bristol Street Food markets. I’ve had some really nice ones, and some which were rather disappointing.

Having enjoyed the buns from Master Bao the last time I was there, and needing lunch I decided to visit Master Bao again. As this is a shopping centre, there are a range of outlets all with a common eating area. You order at the counter, take a electronic gizmo and when it buzzes you collect your food. Not the best way I think of having a nice lunch, a bit too fast food for me, but it works. I ordered the lunch deal of two bao buns and a side dish

I had this before, but did enjoy it, the Shiitake Mushroom Bao – teriyaki shiitake mushrooms, pickled onions and miso.

Shiitake Mushroom Bao - teriyaki shiitake mushrooms, pickled onions and miso

This was mushrooms cooked in a teriyaki sauce and served in a hot fluffy bao. The bun was warm and fluffy, and the mushrooms very tasty. It was a bit messy to eat, but I got there in the end.

My second Bao was the Mr Bao – slow braised pork with house pickles, roasted peanut and coriander.

Mr Bao - slow braised pork with house pickles, roasted peanut and coriander

The pork was very tender, and the peanut added a nice crunchy texture to the Bao. I would have liked a little more coriander, but otherwise it was delicious.

Both Bao buns were soft and fluffy and full of tasty fillings.

I had enjoyed the pork dumplings last time, but this time I went with the fried chicken.

fried chicken

This was not as good as I thought it could be, but the chicken was nice and crispy with a tasty sauce.

Overall I really did enjoy the meal,

 

 

Nice Bao Buns

I don’t actually recall when I had my first Bao Bun, a filled steam bun, but I think it was from the SheSellsSushi stall at one of the Bristol Street Food markets.

I’ve had some really nice ones, and some which were rather disappointing. I have also made them at home as well, well made is a strong word, I bought some ready prepared, steamed them, and added my own filling. That’s almost “made”, but I am keen to try and make some properly one day.

Needing lunch quickly and having parked at the Westfield Centre in West London, there was a wide choice of places to eat but in the end I did quite fancy giving Master Bao a try.

As this is a shopping centre, there are a range of outlets all with a common eating area. You order at the counter, take a electronic gizmo and when it buzzes you collect your food. Not the best way I think of having a nice lunch, a bit too fast food for me, but it works.

I ordered the lunch deal of two bao buns and a side dish. My first choice of bao was the shiitake mushroom bao.

shiitake mushroom bao

This was mushrooms cooked in a teriyaki sauce and served in a hot fluffy bao. It was rather nice, I wouldn’t say I was blown away, but I did enjoy it. The bun was warm and fluffy, and the mushrooms very tasty. It was a bit messy to eat, but I got there in the end.

My second choice of bao, was the chicken bao made with 24 hour marinated fried chicken, fried wasabi, kimchi and coriander.

chicken bao made with 24 hour marinated fried chicken, fried wasabi, kimchi and coriander

I enjoyed the crispy chicken and the accompaniments added a nice spicy extra to the dish. The combination of textures, soft vegetables, crispy chicken and soft bao, was a delight.

As I had chosen the chicken bao, I chose a side dish and went with the pork dumplings.

pork dumplings

These were nice and tasty, steamed and then finished off in the frying pan.

Overall I really did enjoy the dish and would certainly go again.

Time for some dumplings

Time for some dumplings

I did think that I might miss the Temple Quay market this week because of the rain, however it stopped so off I went.

There were fewer stalls this week, and fewer regulars, but even so there was a great choice of food. I thought the rain might have put people off, but the queues were already really long. The queue for the Thai stall was already across the square!

I did start queing at the Scoff and Relish stall as the salad and grilled chicken sounded great and looked fantastic too, being chargrilled on they tiny portable barbecues. I also liked the idea of the accompaning scoff balls, savoury scones. Alas they were struggling with the demand and the queue wasn’t moving and the food wasn’t quite ready. Maybe next time…

In the end I went with Ah Ma’s Dumplings. There was a slow moving queue here too. The stall has these huge towers of bamboo steamers laden with freshly steamed dumplings containing a choice of fillings. There was no tiger prawn, scallop and leek (probably sold out) today, so the choice was pork and ginger, beef and spinach, chicken and coriander or vegetarian.

ah-mas-dumplings

I went with the veggie shitake and cashew pan fried dumplings along with the pork belly with hoisin bao.

I was impressed and tempted with the dumpling pots complete with vegetables, noodles and broth, likewise the sides of Asian salads sounded very interesting. That day they had carrot & courgette ribbons with a tahini, honey, lemon dressing; the other choice was sweet chilli pickled cucumber with toasted black sesame seeds.

The dumplings were really impressive, beautiful steamed dough that because of the pan frying. Inside was a filling that was deep, tasty and even a little meaty, but they were vegetarian (well ‘ish they are pan fried in the same pan as the pork and chicken ones, so if you are vegetarian you might want to have them steamed instead).

The bao was delicious, the slow roasted pork belly was both sour and sweet, full of interesting deep flavours and very tender. The steamed dough made is substantive. I have seen neater and tidier bao buns before, but the flavour of the filling made up for this.

Ah Ma has a growing reputation, having been mentioned as one of the top sixteen street food stalls in the UK in both the Metro and Olive magazine. In my mind that is a well deserved reputation, delicious food, beautifully made and presented and lots of interesting choices of flavours and textures. I hope to visit them again.