There have been some recent additions to this often overlooked part of town, so I think it's about time for a revisit...
An outstanding Chinese restaurant which has weathered many, many years in Chinatown with grace and panache. Yang Sing should always be pretty close to the top when deciding where to eat in the area. They offer up an impressive range of high-end dishes, as well as some truly unique and traditional Chinese offerings which you won’t find elsewhere. A Manchester institution.
Yang Sing, 34 Princess St, Manchester M1 4JY
The Seven Oaks
Probably the city’s worst-kept secret, everyone knows that Seven Oaks is a fantastic little boozer during the day but in the evenings, well, it’s still a great boozer but it acts as an ‘after-hours’ venue for the city’s bar and hospitality workers. Turn up at any time in the evening, show them your payslip and you’re in – free to enjoy pints into the early hours with your fellow bar workers.
The Seven Oaks, 5 Nicholas St, Manchester M1 4HL
0161 237 1233
Manchester Art Gallery
Straddling the edges of Chinatown, the Manchester Art Gallery is back open once again after a prolonged closure due to COVID-19. Their doors have been flung wide and you’re now free again to explore their collections at your leisure. There’s a wealth of artists here, from many different periods of time and through many forms of expression. You can easily go and easily spend a few hours here.
Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley St, Manchester M2 3JL
A newcomer to the area, Pho Cue not only has a brilliant name, it also serves up some of the city’s best Vietnamese food, all cooked from scratch by the mother and son team in the kitchen. They’ve taken traditional Vietnamese dishes and given them a modern, contemporary spin, or the ‘Instagram factor’ as they like to call it. What you’re left with is some truly outstanding dishes and surprisingly, the best tacos in the city.
Pho Cue, 52a Faulkner St, Manchester M1 4FH
We’ve raved about Happy Seasons for a fair few years now and this place just keeps getting better and better. What was once a small, innocuous little doorway is now much larger and there’s a bunch of neon telling you where you are. Food-wise you can’t go wrong in here – it’s always excellent, service is always great and their Roast Duck is sublime.
Happy Seasons Restaurant, 59 Faulkner St, Manchester M1 4FF
For late night eats in Chinatown, nothing beats Pearl City. Head on down at 1am on a Tuesday eveing and you’ll be looked after, fed and sent on your way by a team of very patient and very friendly staff. The food in here is excellent too – just try not to spill it all over yourself – some of those sauces don’t come out. Trust me – I’ve tried everything on them.
Pearl City, 33 George St, Manchester M1 4HQ
There’s a couple of brilliant supermarkets dotted around the streets, where you can pretty much buy ANYTHING you can think of. Frozen little crabs for example. Or Pocky’s. Or Chinese Rice Wine which will blow your bloody head off. Or Pokemon sodas. You find something new every time you pop in, for example, I found these bottles of the rather excellent South Korean lager – CASS the other day. Well worth a sup them bad boys.
Tsujiri Matcha Dessert & Tea Bar
Another newcomer to the area, Tsujiri is a Japaneses Tea and Dessert house which specialises in matcha – so if you don’t like it – don’t bother going. Everyone loves a bit of matcha though and there’s such a wealth of options on offer here that you could visit here for a full week and not have the same thing twice. Their Tsujiri Sundae is a must-try.
TSUJIRI Matcha House, Ground Floor, Upper, 50 Faulkner St, Manchester M1 4FH
Now a Manchester institution, Ho’s is the most famous bakery in Chinatown, and although there are a couple of others knocking about – you can’t beat the original. They sell an impressive range of baked products in here, including their outstanding Honey Buns and Portuguese Tarts. It’s currently still closed, but should be open pretty soon, otherwise we’ll shimmy the locks and get the ovens fired up ourselves.
Ho’s Bakery, 46 Faulkner St, Manchester M1 4FH
Sandwiched between a boozer and a Fish & Chips shop, you could be forgiven for just swiftly walking past Happy Lemon on Portland Street, especially considering that it’s in a little bit of an undesirable stretch of the road. Pop in though – you won’t regret it. They specialise in all types of tea, from green tea to bubble tea and even a salted cheese tea which I was too scared to try. They also do desserts in here including some lovely bubble waffles that are perfect for dipping.
Happy Lemon, 84 Portland St, Manchester M1 4GX
Sneaker63 Consignment Store
Descend these stairs next to Wasabi and you’ll be in sneaker heaven as they offer up a massive range of hard to find and rare trainers from all over the world. Word has it that they have some trainers in here that cost 10 grand! I don’t know which ones they are though so I can’t help you there. Owners Jack and Dominic will be on hand to show you around though.
Sneaker 63, 63a Faulkner St, Manchester M1 4FF
Yuzu Japanese Tapas
An outstanding Japanese restaurant, Yuzu specialises in ‘tapas’, small, freshly prepared dishes that have won pretty much universal acclaim. Even gruff-faced Observer critic Jay Rayner is a fan, proclaiming “Yuzu’s execution of classics is spot on. The prawn gyoza are glorious pouches made with the best slippery silken casings which have proper bite.”
Yuzu Japanese Tapas Bar, 39 Faulkner St, Manchester M1 4EE
Orchid Lounge / Vina / K2 Karaoke
One of the best things about Chinatown is the karaoke. Even if you’re a boring bastard and you say that you hate it, spend a couple of minutes in one of these places and you’ll be bopping away, flicking though that book and panicking because you chose ‘Mysterious Girl’ and there’s a rapping bit in it. K2 is generally considered to be the ‘poshest’ with Vina and Orchid Lounge being a little bit more ‘rough and ready’. All of them excellent into the early hours.
Another fantastic boozer on Portland Street, the Old Monkey is a Joey Holt number, so you can get yourself a pint of Diamond a smile and your night will be set. There’s always a decent crowd in here and it’s impossible not to get bantering some of the old fellas at the bar. There’s a bit upstairs too which is perfect for a quieter pint and a couple of packets of Quavers.
The Old Monkey, 90 Portland St, Manchester M1 4GX
0161 228 6262
The Circus Tavern
Officially the smallest boozer in the city, until Steve finishes that bar and optics set in the cupboard under my stairs, the Circus Tavern is a tony warren of pub brilliance. The walls are adorned with pictures of the pub’s famous patrons, be careful though, take a seat in here with a pint and some crisps and you’ll be there for the rest of the day, cracking on with the characters.
The Circus Tavern, 86 Portland St, Manchester M1 4GX
0161 236 5818
Rain City Tattoo Collective
Quite possibly the city’s best tattoo parlour, it’s easy to miss Rain City, tucked away up a few flights of steps just off the main Chinatown square. If you’re looking to get a tattoo though – you can’t go wrong in here – and I have it on good authority that the geezer who runs it is an absolute legend who draws better than all of those artists that you just saw in the Art Gallery.
Rain City Tattoo Collective, China Town, 16 Nicholas St, Manchester M1 4EJ
T.La At & Craft Gallery
An impressive emporium of Chinese arts and crafts, and a veritable treasure trove of Chinese gifts. They have everything in here, including those little gold waving cats, and loads of other stuff that you’d find adorning the walls of your local Chinese restaurant.The shop is tiny but you could probably spend about an hour looking around it – and end up spending a bloody fortune.
T.La Art & Craft Gallery, 16 Nicholas St, Manchester M1 4EJ
0161 236 2333