First look: New Chinese restaurant for Leeds city centre

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‘Would you like prawn crackers with that’ is probably the last thing you are going to hear in the latest Chinese restaurant set to open in Leeds next week.

Man’s Market will be situated in West Point, off Whitehall Road, and is the brain-child of Leeds born Ray Chan, the creator of the international night-life and party brand Candypants.

PIC: Simon Hulme

PIC: Simon Hulme

Despite spending his childhood years frying prawn crackers and chips and making fried rice in the family takeaway business, he had a vision to take the cuisine away from that dated and unhealthy rut which he says Chinese food has gotten itself into.

The 120 cover restaurant he has created for example gives brown rice options and none of the products contain Monosodium glutamate (MSG) which is a controversial agent used to season and flavour food.

In terms of decor, you would be forgiven for thinking that it wasn’t a Chinese restaurant you have stepped into but more likely some exclusive, underground, celebrious party.

One of Ray’s main requirements for the final look of his new venture was that there will be no green dragon, red carpet or fish tank in sight.

PIC: Simon Hulme

PIC: Simon Hulme

He told City Buzz: “I want to throw people from the moment that they walk in and come down the stairs. I have put a lot of thought into it and tried to cover everything.

It is safe to say mission accomplished and City Buzz can give you a flavour of what to expect.

It is opulently dark with atmospheric lighting and then an explosion of goods greets you with a ‘ladies’ market’ featuring a cat wall of t-shirts and handbags, then there is a mezzanine floor for diners and a ship’s hull which serves as a private dining booth available to be hired out.

And the service concept is one that is also pretty different from the norm.

Ray explains that there is a wooden peg above every table and three cards which read ‘Feed Me’, ‘I’m Thirsty’ or ‘I Want To Go’. Diners place these above the table when they are ready to order, want more drinks or the bill.

Ray explains: “How many times do you go to a restaurant and are hassled by the waiting staff before you have read the menu or want drinks and there is nobody there?”

After staging club and party events for nine years from Leeds to Dubai, Ray knows enough about the entertainment industry to take his own projects a level above and Man’s Market probably won’t just stop at a Chinese restaurant.

The name of it has been carefully chosen, so that just like Candypants it can be expanded to explore other avenues and business opportunities.

Ideas already being muted include coffee and beers.

As an aside, ‘Man’ was chosen because it is a popular Chinese surname and comes from a village in Hong Kong on the border with China where lots of farmers sold land and became respected in their communities.

“Candypants is nine in March and we are in Marbella and Dubai every week but Leeds is my hometown and if I am going to do anything it has got to come from Leeds. It is the town that I started in and I have the network here. There is a lot going on but I like to think I know what people want and there is that gap in the market.”

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