After a very strange old year, it is great to see things start to open up, and I’m sure we are not the only ones with a long list of places to go and things to do!
One of those that’s been on my list since it’s opening in August 2020 is The Orchard Vegan Chinese on George Hudson Street. As a vegetarian I always want to try and support local restaurants, although it did take a while to find someone who was willing to join me. However whilst this might have been my first visit it certainly won’t be my last.
The smell as you walk in was lovely and instantly set my taste buds tingling. It was a small restaurant but we had booked so were shown to our table straight away. For a Monday night it was pleasantly busy but not overcrowded.
First thing first as always was to peruse the wine menu. Clearly there are not many Asian red wines so we went for a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon before settling in to look at the menu. One problem I find with a fully vegetarian menu is that I always get a bit overwhelmed. Having been a vegetarian for over 30 years I’ve perfected the art of skimming through menus looking for the little green v’s therefore having 2 sides of A4 to select from is tricky but a real treat too. There is a wide selection of dishes, from the more usual vegetable spring rolls, and stir fried mixed vegetables, to the more adventurous vegan scallop balls and vegan shredded beef with OK sauce.
The starter turned out to be an easy choice, my meat eating companion for the evening instantly spotted a vegan take on her favourite Peking duck pancakes which said it was perfect for sharing so I couldn’t deny her the chance for them. For the mains we decided to go for a mix and match selection. My first choice was the sweet and sour king prawn, something I have never tried before, the chick’n in black bean sauce was our second main, with a side of broccoli in garlic and a portion of shiitake fried rice.
The starter came out with a very large chunk of duck made from soya protein which was the basis of our sharing dish. We rolled this into the delicate pancakes alongside some sliced spring onions and cucumber. Each little pancake was then topped with a lovely silky duck sauce that was slightly spicy but sweet at the same time. This was a real pleasure to eat and was definitely a dish to share if you want to leave space for the mains.
Once we’d finally stopped picking at the left over bits of duck and cucumber the plate was swiftly removed and replaced with our mains. The smell was absolutely wonderful and we had to dive straight in. The ‘prawns’ were delicate bits of soya (I assume) battered and then served with a wonderful bright orange sweet and sticky sauce, that was absolutely morish. The chick’n in black bean sauce was a great contrast to this with the sauce being sharp and salty. The rice was another triumph, the mushrooms were deep and earthy and the scrambled ‘tofu’ egg gave it a lovely soft texture. It was a great way to soak up the sauces of the two mains. The broccoli was as simple a dish as it sounds, but was a perfect fresh accompaniment to all the saucy goodness of the two mains.
The portions are certainly not small and despite our best efforts we didn’t quite finish but that was no reflection on the quality food. It was a shame we couldn’t fit in dessert though as they sounded great too, especially the lotus biscoff bar.
I can honestly say this was one of the best Chinese meals I’ve had in a long time and my meat eating friend was just as impressed. The service was a little slow, but the staff were still in training so that’s completely understandable and actually it made for a nice relaxed evening. I would definitely recommend giving this restaurant a go whether vegan or not!
🍛 Meal for 2 with a bottle of wine: £53.95
🎉 My Highlight: The battered ‘prawns’
⚡️ Friends highlight: The duck pancakes despite not being real duck
Overall ratings: Friend ⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️ Cand ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️