The Chinese restaurant above the Wing Yip cash and carry? It’s a bit of an adventure

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The M.E.N’s Ben Arnold dines at Glamorous Restaurant, Oldham Ro

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“Could do with a spittoon,” my dining companion says, as we both pick out the small, fiddly bones from the chicken feet.

To my shame, I’ve never tried this well-trodden Chinese delicacy before, but it seemed like the right time and the right place.

They’re floppier than I expected – I was hoping to be holding them with sticky fingers and gnawing morsels of meat off the bones.

But in essence, it’s just a braised flap of chicken skin, which is delicious when stretched flat and fried to a crisp shard, but slightly less enticing here, faced as we are with about six or seven chicken’s worth of them, spitting out the tiny bones onto our plates as we go.

On the plus side, the sauce is delicious.

It’s not my first rodeo at Glamorous, the assertively named dim sum restaurant above the Wing Yip supermarket on Oldham Road. The one crowned with the giant pagoda.

This is a nose to tail type place. On the menu there are pig intestines with black pepper sauce to contemplate, not to mention beef tendons.

Last time we came, in a fit of misguided bravado, we ordered the agricultural-sounding ‘various beef offal’, which, for better or worse, now appears to have disappeared from the menu. It was very much what it claimed to be, and the beef tendons came as part of a steaming, gelatinous tableau of other assorted innards.

It was quite intimidating, I’ll be honest, but the tendons themselves were actually pretty good, unctuous and lip-sticking. Perhaps what you might politely describe as the ‘best of a bad bunch’.

The day we return is a Wednesday lunchtime, and it is packed. The clientele is easily 90% Chinese – a good sign – and there are surely more than 100 people sat down, stretching far into the distance of the huge dining room.

These are numbers any city centre restaurant would gladly trade their own offal for. In fact, we luckily got the last table.

We decide against a bowl of tendons this time, and couple the chicken feet with the honeycomb tripe, served in a chilli and black pepper sauce.

While I might have to give the chicken feet another go in order to fully immerse myself in their acquired cult status, the tripe is genuinely delicious; giving, yet still just the tiniest bit chewy, and braised in a lightly spiced sauce with the back heat of black pepper.

As we’re stuffing down slices of cow’s stomach, another little basket arrives, filled with baby squid. While it’s not quite the same level of guilt associated with eating, say, suckling pig (which is also on the menu) these tiny little guys do have an unmistakable and regrettable cutesiness.

This is soon forgotten, as we mop up the tangy, garlicky sauce with a square of tofu, having eaten every last one of them.

The three roast meats – belly pork, roast duck and char sui – have a lot of competition in Manchester. Happy Seasons on Faulkner Street does among the best I’ve ever encountered. Glamorous’s effort is excellent, but it’s a high bar to get over. It performs valiantly, nonetheless.

When the mixed seafood – a hugely generous heap of abalone, scallops, prawns, firm pieces of monkfish – arrives, served with flat noodles, we exchange the silent admission that ‘we’ve over-ordered’, but continue along doggedly.

Having heard about the fried buns with custard, I ask for some to take away. I end up eating two in the car on the way home, and I don’t regret it for a moment.

On previous visits, the waiting staff would push rectangular metal trolleys between the tables, each filled with steamer baskets full of joy – from your standard pork and prawn har gau to the slippery beef dumplings, slick with ginger sauce – allowing you to take a good look at your next indulgence.

Sadly, covid has put paid to such inter-table theatre, and they’d actually stopped this quaintly antiquated practice slightly before the pandemic and its restrictions.

But the staff here often come under fire from the keyboard warriors of Trip Advisor, who most likely smile and nod at the time, and only later build up the courage to unleash their vitriol from a safe distance.

They’re rude, apparently.

A recent review detailed how one of the waitresses brought soy sauce instead of the tea they’d asked for, and laughed when the mistake was pointed out.

While this might sound like – heaven forfend – they might have a sense of humour, this was noted to be ‘unacceptable behaviour, and appalling to see’.

Another noted the ‘absurd chair height’ (too low).

OK, the service is best described as functional. It’s not warm, by any stretch of the imagination. It’s barely even tepid. This, to my mind, is a huge part of the charm.

They are busy. It’s a busy restaurant. If you’re so needy that you require an insincere smile every time something gets put down on your table, then it sounds like Glamorous very much isn’t for you.

And yes, the lady who takes your money at the end of the meal – just under £60 for a huge amount of food – is a tad severe, barely looking up as she staples bills and receipts together, and poking the card machine in your general direction.

But Glamorous is not for those seeking hushed Michelin-star fawning, or reverent, faux-casual verbal essays on foraging delivered to you table-side when all you want to do is get stuck in.

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