Others that were doing a cracking job of staying in operation, like Simon Rimmer’s Greens restaurant in Didsbury, and Font (home of the bargain cocktail) in the city centre are gone for good now after literal decades of trade.
So to stay open not just through the Covid years but for 64 years is quite remarkable.
The Rice Bowl is old enough to remember The Big Freeze, Beatles-mania, the assassination of JFK, England lifting a World Cup trophy, Concorde launching (and then crashing…), the Troubles, Britain joining the EU (and then leaving it again…), the miners’ strikes, Thatcher, the Channel Tunnel opening, Princess Diana’s death, the IRA bomb in Manchester, Dolly the sheep, the birth of Facebook (in fact, the birth of the internet in general), The Rachel, Harry Potter, and so many more world-changing events.
It’s not technically the oldest restaurant in town, with Sam’s Chop House claiming a 140-year history, but it is the one that’s remained with the same family for the longest.
The Rice Bowl was opened in Liverpool at first, when Wing Lau left Shangai to a backdrop of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
But after a few years, he moved across to Manchester, and although it’s now his family who are running the show, The Rice Bowl is largely unchanged.
You still get a slice of fruit with your bill, there’s a fish tank full of goldfish by the door, and the menus are thick, leather-bound tomes full of delights.
And on a wet and dreary Tuesday lunchtime, it’s full. There are lunch meetings in one corner, couples surrounded by shopping bags in another, colleagues grumbling about colleagues over steaming baskets of dim sum.
During the week, it’s the £19.50 set menu that lures us Mancs in time and time again.
For that price, you get a basket of prawn crackers, a starter, and a main – and the portions are so huge you could act like a bear, eating the whole lot before hibernating until your next meal in the spring time.
We ate a sharp and tangy Peking hot and sour soup, which tastes like the exact opposite of Manchester drizzle, and a basket of gelatinous dim sum, the kimchi bao delightfully springy and chewy.
The Singapore-style vermicelli noodle bowl is so massive, you could use the noodles to knit a particularly vibrant yellow jumper.
The hot and sour Peking soup at The Rice Bowl. Credit: The Manc Group
Its flavours are earthy and comforting and really sing when you slap on The Rice Bowl’s punchy crispy chilli oil.
A Chinese classic next, with chunks of crispy chilli beef stuck together with a bright red sweet chilli sauce. It’s a full plate worth of food, and there’s one of those Mary Poppins bowls of rice on the side that just seems endless no matter how many spoonfuls you dump into your bowl.
The Rice Bowl isn’t fancy and isn’t particular beautiful to look at. There are no gimmicks and basically no online presence. But maybe, just getting your head down in the kitchen and focusing all your efforts on cooking good, honest food is its magic trick.
A ‘sexy’ bottomless brunch with endless sushi is coming to Manchester
A ‘sexy’ bottomless brunch is launching in Manchester next month, where the sushi will be bottomless and you can ring a bell for champagne.
The lavish new Sunday offering comes from the ultra-glamorous Sexy Fish in Spinningfields – that restaurant where giant blue mermaids, a sparkly octopus, and an aquarium full of real fish watch over the colourful dining room.
The Sexy Sunday Brunch might also be the most expensive in the city, costing a cool £52 per person… without drinks.
But for that price you do get a lot of Sexy Fish’s acclaimed food, including a bottomless sushi station.
Diners at the Manchester restaurant will be able to tuck into signature dishes served sharing-style, no limit on how many you order.
Starters will include smoked salmon bao, chicken karaage, crispy duck watermelon salad, milk buns with miso butter, and crudites with kimchi.
The Sexy Fish ‘Sexy Sunday Brunch’ spread. Credit: Supplied
Then you can make your way up to the bottomless Sushi Station, where freshly-prepared sashimi, nigiri, maki and tartares will be on display.
There’ll also be a ‘theatrical flying table service’, which sounds just like waiters carrying food around (?).
Sexy Fish says there’ll be platters of freshly prepared tempura, croquettes and more being circulated by their waiters.
Then as if that’s not enough fancy food, your booking includes a main course and side, which can include grilled seabass with shiso miso pesto, crispy pork belly, caramelised black cod (for a supplement) and sides of kimchi fried rice and spicy miso tenderstem.
Sexy Fish Manchester is launching a lavish bottomless brunch
Finally, there are sharing desserts of cinnamon doughnuts, soft serve ice cream, and chocolate fondant.
And although drinks aren’t included in the bottomless brunch deal, each table is given a ‘Ring for Ruinart’ bell – ding it, and the sommelier will bring you a £64 bottle of fizz.
Special Sexy Brunch cocktails will include the mimosa thyme and the Sanguine Maria.
The whole thing will be soundtracked by ‘low-key entertainment’ from Sexy Fish’s signature DJs and live musicians.
The Sexy Fish Sexy Sunday Brunch will kick off on Sunday 10 March and run every Sunday between 12pm and 5pm.
Factory Bake shared on Instagram this week: “We’ve officially made it guys! Our first 1 star review!
“And to the customer in question all we can say is unfortunately we can’t apologise for selling out cause as a new little bakery this is the best thing ever!
“Though we do hope in the future for other amazing businesses you visit, you at least try their goods before reviewing. Cause our baker has a deep hatred for anything dry, which is why she usually slices up everything even when it’s still hot.”
The one-star review said: “They could also rename it as pointless baker.
“I went there three times, and they never had anything decent available. Just 2-3 types of pastries that looked as dry as desert sand. Caffé Nero’s pastries look more inviting than theirs…and also has a better choice.