FOOD REVIEW: Is this Chinese restaurant Sheffield's best-kept secret?

It may seem strange to describe this restaurant as one of Sheffield's best-kept secrets, given we are lucky to be seated when we visit on a Saturday night.

Monday, 5th March 2018, 5:24 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th March 2018, 5:00 pm
Zuoan Qu and co-owner Qiyou Zhou

As we are enveloped in the heady aroma emanating from broths bubbling away on the table tops, the buzz of chatter, punctuated by clicking chopsticks, makes it clear Golden Taste has no publicity problems.

But looking around, I wonder how many people outside the city's sizeable Chinese community are wise to this culinary nugget tucked in beside Highfield Library, just off the main bustle of London Road's foodie quarter.

The restaurant was packed when we visited on a Saturday night

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Our ever-so-patient waitress goes to great lengths to help us navigate the extensive menu, explaining how these dishes from the mountainous province of Hunan are very different to the anglicised Cantonese cuisine to which Britons have grown accustomed.

She seems genuinely concerned about whether our puny western palates can handle these fierier, in-your-face flavours, urging us to try some relatively toned-down plates on our first visit and save the more adventurous fare like tripe, pork ear and frogs' leg for a follow-up visit.

Our choices don't disappoint. The smoky dried chillies, which seem to be a trademark of this cuisine, lend a potent kick without overwhelming the balance of spices.

This is a proper workout for the taste buds, with flavours deep enough to drown in.

Golden Taste is away from the main stretch of restaurants on London Road

My personal highlight is the Hunan village-style pork - deliciously tender sweet and salty slivers of belly. But it's just the standout from a range of exquisitely executed dishes.

The xingjiang chicken is like a chow mein with attitude, full of hearty noodles jostling with slivers of potato to soak up the rich sauce.

The seasonal vegetables swimming in a tangy sauce are satisfyingly slurpable and I was also a sucker for the spicy squid tentacles, presented in a sizzling clay pot.

The portion sizes are huge, with enough left over to feed the three of us the following night, and at £51 including rice and soft drinks it's excellent value.

The dishes are bursting with flavour

My only - very minor - quibbles were that the tentacles could perhaps have been more tender and I saw no reason why the pork rind couldn't have been removed.

That said, I'll definitely be back to continue my nascent education in Hunan cuisine.

I may be late to the party, with Golden Taste having built a winning reputation since opening five years ago and counting snooker superstars Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo among its legion of fans.

But I'm convinced this restaurant - resplendent following a lengthy makeover last summer - deserves an even wider audience.

Portion sizes are incredibly generous
The restaurant underwent a makeover last summer
The restaurant was packed when we visited on a Saturday night
Golden Taste is away from the main stretch of restaurants on London Road
The dishes are bursting with flavour
Portion sizes are incredibly generous
The restaurant underwent a makeover last summer