Friday, 19 January 2018

MCR's Hidden Vegan Secret #8: Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen

Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen

Location: Withington

Address: 536 Wilmslow Road, Withington, Manchester, M20 4BY
Category: Chinese restaurant
Opening hours: Wednesday - Monday 5pm-10:30pm
Veganness: 100% Vegetarian, about 80% vegan.
Price range for meal: £10-£20
Wait for food: About 20 minutes


Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen, based in Withington is Manchester's only (as far as I'm aware, correct me if I'm wrong) fully vegetarian Chinese restaurant. Most of the options are also vegan, and they are about the best mock meat dishes you may find at any restaurant in Manchester. There is a whopping more than 90 vegan options on the menu here!

Their menu is one of the most varied for vegan options. For starters you can have one 10 different soups, or 13 starters for yourself. However, what I like to do is have a starter to share. The crispy combination is my favourite if I'm with 3 or 4 people. With the crispy combination you get Spring Roll, Skewer Veggie Chicken, Samosas, Veggie Prawn on Toast, Crispy Won Ton & Seaweed. However, if it's just 2 or 3 of us we might get the crispy duck or the crispy lamb. Here's what the crispy duck looks like:

There's then more vegan main course options than you could ever imagine. If you're not a fan of mock meats, there are 14 vegetable and tofu dishes. I am a big fan of mock meats, so unfortunately I haven't tried many of them. Then there's the sizzling dishes. You can get several sizzling beef or sizzling chicken steak dishes, where they bring the mock meat out on a metal plate and pour on whatever sauce you choose, and the whole restaurant can hear your dish sizzling, with steak rising high.

There's then too many mock meat dishes to count, with all sorts of traditional Chinese restaurant dishes with mock duck, chicken, king prawn, beef, fish, seafood and even eel. That's not even to mention the rice dishes, noodle dishes and soup noodles.

There are a small number of dessert options, and to be fair this is not their strongest point. They have vegan ice cream, banana fitter and pineapple fritter. They also always give you some slices of fruit at the end of your meal as a palate cleanser, which is nice. Occasionally you will even see melons carved into roses or other shapes.

I couldn't recommend Lotus enough. It's easily in my top 3 favourite places to eat in Manchester without a doubt. I have taken meat-eating family members here before and they've told me it's the best Chinese they've had in a long time. It's location is a bit tricky if you don't live in south Manchester, but there's plenty of public transport links. It's close to Mauldeth Road train station and you can get regular busses there as it's on the student corridor of Wilmslow Road, so frequent bus services stop here. It's really good value for money. You can also order take away which prices are 10% cheaper, but for collection only. Well worth visiting Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen!

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Saturday, 13 January 2018

MCR's Hidden Vegan Secret #7: The Pasta Factory

The Pasta Factory

Location: Shudehill, City Centre

Address:77 Shudehill, Manchester, M4 4AN
Category: Italian style pasta restaurant
Opening hours: Tuesday-Thursday 12:00pm-10:00pm, Friday-Saturday 12:00pm-11:00pm, Sunday 12:00pm-10:00pm
Veganness: Serves meat and dairy.
Price range for meal: £11-£30
Wait for food: Once seated, ~15-20 minutes. If you haven't booked a table, you may have a wait for a table to become available, especially at weekends.


The Pasta Factory situated next to Shudehill bus station is an Italian style restaurant that only does pasta dishes for it's main courses. All of which is homemade and is of the highest quality I've been able to find in all of Manchester. There are lots of vegan options, including for dessert.

The menu (which I forgot to take photos of) labels vegan items by having them in green font, rather than a red font, with a V sign which they use for all of their vegetarian options. So it's really clear what's vegan on the menu. For starters there is a range of antipasti, more than half of which are vegan. For mains there are 4 vegan pasta options, plus whatever they have on the specials board. What I like a lot about The Pasta Factory is their parmesan. If non-vegans want their non-vegan parmesan, the waiter gives them a small serving from the cheese grater, but if you request the vegan parmesan they give you a jar full of the stuff and a spoon and leave it with you. You can see it in the photo above, but a closer look in this photo:

For dessert there's a chocolate ravioli, sorbet or whatever is on the specials. For this visit I had a vegan pastry selection from the specials, and although it was really good, it didn't seem to be very pastry. I was still very impressed.

The Pasta Factory is definitely for even meals out. If you're visiting at the weekend or with large numbers of people, I would highly recommend booking a table in advance as it is only small and can be busy. It's not the cheapest of places, but it's very high quality with all the pasta and sauces made fresh on site. It's the perfect venue for a birthday meal, or that special date.

One last thing! Their vegan parmesan and cheese can be bought to take home. If you just want to buy some excellent vegan parmesan without sitting down for a meal, just pop in and buy one off the counter. All their cheeses are nut based and not soya based, so it's real artisan vegan cheese. You won't find vegan cheese like this in many shops. Well worth trying out.

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Thursday, 4 January 2018

MCR's Hidden Vegan Secret #6: HOME


Location: First Street Estate, Oxford Road/Deansgate area
Address2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester, M15 4FN
Category: Cinema and art gallery with restuarant and bars.
Opening hours: Monday-Thursday 10am-11pm, Friday-Saturday 10am-12pm, Sunday 11am-10:30pm
Veganness: Serves meat but labels vegan items.
Price range for meal: £10-£20.
Wait for food: Around 20 minutes.


HOME (yes, it is all stylised in capital letters) is primarily a cinema and art space. They show all sorts of films across world cinema. Some of the big blockbuster hits, and a lot of small independent films that aren't shown in many theatres. They hold many film festivals as well as some theatre shows and art exhibitions. These are all well worth checking out and are the main reasons I visit HOME. However, we're here to review their food which is also excellent! Before we go any further I must apologise for the photos in this review, the lighting wasn't that good so some photos come out really dark.

This year they have added new options to their menu. They previously had only offered vegan pizza, but now have several options to choose from. They still however do serve meat so don't expect a vegetarian kitchen. I usually get a pizza but this time I thought I would try new things on the menu. For starters I had cauliflower buffalo wings with vegan mayo & chive dip. These are really good. If you have not tried fried cauliflower, you need this in your life.

For a main I had the portobello mushroom and bhali burger which was also really good. Other new items include an Asian buddha bowl rice dish, vegan cheese toastie and soup. None of which I have tried but they all look really good. they do 2 different vegan pizzas, roast vegetable and artichoke & wild mushroom. Vegan cheese is however an extra £1. It's a good pizza though and does rank reasonably high out of the pizzas in Manchester. It is a step up from the pizza at Pizza Express or Zizzi in my opinion.

Overall I would recommend HOME as your cinema of choice and it's well worth having food while you're there if you want to make a full evening of your visit. HOME is located roughly between Oxford Road and Deansgate in the new First Street Estate which has a lot of restaurants and bars. It's a short walk from either Oxford Road and Deansgate train stations as well as Deansgate Castlefield tram stop. There are regular busses to City Centre, Trafford and South Manchester, but it's only about a 20 minute or so walk from Piccadilly Gardens. I would say however, unless you spend time drinking or dining in the Deansgate or Oxford Road areas it's not likely that you would find yourself naturally near to HOME it's probably best to plan your visit here in advance, or at least give yourself enough time to travel there. If you're going to eat before seeing a film I would suggest getting there a good 30 or 40 minutes before the film starts to eat.

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