You’ll know from my best Chinese restaurants in Liverpool article that there are plenty of places to grab authentic Asian fare around my neck of the woods. I don’t have to stretch my legs too far to find fabulous fusion food and traditional recipes that keep me coming back for more and more but sometimes, it is nice to head out a little further afield and see what else is on offer. So when an invite to road test the menu at Mr Lau’s restaurant in Warrington landed in my inbox, I was more than willing to oblige.
With my dim sum loyalty firmly placed in the capable hands of one of Liverpool’s greatest unsung culinary heroes (Blind Tiger) and being the homebird I am, I arrived at Mr Lau’s with rather modest expectations. The blink-and-you’d-miss-it doorway at 2 Springfield Street didn’t do much to shift my stubborn dedication to my old favourites back home but what lay beyond the unremarkable exterior was more than enough to shake me to my senses.
Our fabulous host for the evening, Stella knew the menu like the back of her hand and went to great lengths to explain the various elements and offer some bang-on advice in terms of portion sizes and how much to order. Mr Lau’s A La Carte menu is split into everything from Beer Snacks and Soups to plates from The Sky, The Land and The Sea so the diversity and choice really is impressive. I know Asian menus are synonymous with being broad but this one has a certain sense of modern style and sophistication that isn’t always so easy to find.
From the extensive menu, which quite literally blanketed our cosy table for two in the corner, we decided to go for a selection of traditional Asian dim sum because, well, when in Rome… (or China… or Warrington…) alongside a larger plate and some side orders. As you’ll know from my love of tapas and small plates, I really enjoy a more casual way of dining and besides, sharing dishes means you get to sample and report back on way more off the menu. It’s all in a day’s work. You can thank me later.
After much deliberation and already one cocktail and a glass of wine down, we finally decided on two classic dim sum dishes and something off the gourmet dim sum list to start with. We went for some Beef Sui Mai (£3.95) and some War Tip (£3.95) off the classics and some Peking Duck Spring Rolls (£8.95) from the gourmet offering. Now, before I go into my rundown of the aforementioned morsels, let me start by justifying our rather safe and predictable selections…
Sure, we were excited by the Custard Bun (£4.25) and of course we were tempted by the Sizzling Mini Surf & Turf (£9.95) but ordering the classics always ensures the kitchen has nowhere to hide. Sampling any restaurants take on their version of tradition is a fool-proof way to get the measure of their culinary skills, attention to detail and knowledge of the ingredients they cook with. As you’re about to find out, Mr Lau’s passed my scrupulous examinations with flying colours.
The Beef Sui Mai was served as a portion of four bitesize dumplings in a traditional steamer basket and were every bit as delicious as they look. The quartet of duck spring rolls were equally tasty and refreshingly fruity but it was the War Tip that stole the show for both myself and my partner in dine. War tip are crescent-shaped dumplings which are steamed on one side then pan fried to give a crispy outer casing around an aromatic filling of meat and spices. Highly recommended. So suitably impressed by our delicious round of dim sum dishes, we contently sipped our way through another glass of chilled white and a Naughty Lau cocktail whilst we waited on the main event.
My second cocktail was actually recommended to me by Stella as I had enjoyed my first one so much and once again, she hit the nail right on the head. There was only a short wait between courses, which surprised me seeing as the place was absolutely packed to the rafters by this time; clearly a popular choice on a Saturday night in Warrington town centre. However had we been waiting a while, the electric atmosphere, the infectious beat of the background music and the mouthwatering aromas in the air would have been enough to keep us entertained for hours on end.
Four our mains we went for the Salt & Pepper ribs (£8.95) from the Ribs & Wings menu and the Steak Cantonese Swinging Skewer (£16.95), both of which were perfectly tender and seasoned with an expert hand. The skewer came with a fruity Cantonese sauce that was left to drip down the meat onto the bowl of french fries below but we did order a portion of Chilli Chick Rice (£4.95) as well from the side order list to accompany our hot and spicy ribs. I particularly enjoyed the rice dish which included chilli, egg, chicken, edamame and lap cheong (Chinese salami).
Understandably full by this time, the Mr Lau’s dessert menu was our Everest. Boy, were we seduced by the Salted Caramel Torte (£6.95) and Pam’s Signature Chocolate Spring Rolls (£6.95) but we decided to come to a compromise and settle on the Raspberry & White Chocolate Brûlée Cheesecake (£6.95) with two spoons. Our sweet came served with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream and raspberry sauce on paper but a whole host of other finishing touches when it actually arrived in front of us which made for a beautiful end to a beautiful meal.
In fact, everything that was placed in front of us at Mr Lau’s was piping hot, utterly delicious and elegantly and authentically presented. We were left wanting for nothing – even our hand towels and cutlery were replaced between courses – and we spent most of the journey home reeling off the list of people we’re going to be recommending it to. I will most definitely be making a return visit there again soon myself as I just have to see how those Chocolate Spring Rolls match up to Sapporo’s…
Thanks for having us at Mr Lau’s!
I was very kindly invited to review this meal for two by the lovely lot at Mr Lau’s but all words, photographs, opinions, teeth, hair, boobs and nails are my very own.