The Beijing in Leyland converted Kay Taylor into a lover of Chinese cuisine.
While eating out with my cousins last week, one of them told me about an American food critic with an unusual story.
The woman in question got such a reputation for herself in places such as San Francisco and New York, restaurant managers started pinning her photograph to the kitchen walls, so staff would know when to be on their best behaviour.
Realising what was happening, she started donning disguises, wearing wigs and plenty of make-up, and would even adopt particular mannerisms for the characters she was portraying.
I’m not saying it’s got to that stage around Chorley and Leyland when the Guardian staff pay a visit, but it does show what lengths people will go to, to continue doing what they love.
And I love food, and reviewing restaurants, so visiting the Beijing on Chapel Brow was another highlight for me.
As the manager was moving us from a cramped table near the kitchen to a more central location amongst the buzz of other revellers, he explained that he’d taken over the business from a family member around six months ago.
I could have been mistaken for thinking my picture was strapped to the kitchen wall after all, because he treated us so well, but I noticed he was friendly and attentive to all of the customers, which is great.
I also liked the fact that the restaurant is separate from the bar and waiting area, although I didn’t see the other room as we were seated straight away.
As for the food, it was delicious.
I had vegetable spring rolls to start, with a sweet chilli dipping sauce, and there was plenty to share with my cousins, who had aubergine fritters and salt and pepper calamari.
The portions were quite big, but we were hungry, and we had quite a wait in between our starter and main courses, so we were ready for round two by the time they arrived.
I usually go for orange chicken when I eat at Chinese restaurants, but I couldn’t see that on the menu, and another dish had already caught my eye.
I decided to be adventurous and order battered chicken in a sweet plum and basil sauce, which was lovely and sticky, and actually reminded me of orange chicken anyway.
I had it with crispy noodles, which were fine, but a bit bland, so I shared the egg-fried rice with one of my cousins.
She had the rice with a battered fish fillet in an oyster sauce and hotpot, which included lots of veg, and she cleaned her dish.
Her sister opted for a vegetarian meal, even though she’s a meat-eater, and she really enjoyed that too.
It was similar to the hotpot, but was served with bean curd instead of fish, and she had it with soft noodles and bean sprouts.
The staff initially brought out the wrong dish, which didn’t have bean curd in, but apologised and quickly brought out the right version without any hassle.
We all agreed the food was excellent, and at around £20 each, including two rounds of drinks, we were happy with the price too.
There are also banquet choices available for a minimum of two people, and the next table’s crispy duck pancakes also looked worth a try.
I’ll definitely be back to sample more of the Beijing’s cuisine in the near future, and may even go in disguise next time, just for fun.