Hei Hei, Dean Street, Newcastle

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LOVERS of Far Eastern food are spoilt for choice in Newcastle.

With its own colourful and neon-lit Chinatown, there’s plenty to choose from – not just Chinese, but Korean, Japanese, Thai and more.

However, a restaurant making waves in the noodle soup of the Oriental eating scene is a fair stroll away from the gaudy arch of Stowell Street and closer to Newcastle’s Quayside.

Hei Hei promises authentic Cantonese cuisine and has become a hit with visitors and locals in the six years since it opened.

As two of my pals live nearby, we’ve often called in for takeaway, but decided long days at respective work places necessitated a proper sit-down meal with no washing up.

We skipped starters, which were an appetising range of soups, dim sum platters and lip-smacking salt and pepper meats and seafood.

For main courses, we had a host of classic dishes to choose from, including satay sauce, Chinese curry and egg foo young.

Those who want to play less safe will be equally happy with a treasure trove of unusual mains which many, me included, will never have crossed chopsticks with: Chengdu city super spicy hot pot? Spotty grandma’s tofu? Sha cha seafood claypot?

I went for the last option, which was a pot of thick stew combining prawns, squid and scallops in a light satay sauce.

My dining partners opted to stick to what they know, with sweet and sour chicken and a vegetable Chinese curry.

Despite a bevvy of top-notch reviews on Trip Advisor, I was less than bowled over with my soup bowl.

The sauce was light and not too salty, but the amount of seafood was also on the scant side and I could have eaten the whole portion again.

My friend’s sweet and sour chicken was wrapped in a thick sauce, almost luminous in colour, but tasty enough in a woefully bad for you kind of way.

Vegetarian pal’s curry was full of, well, vegetables, but the curry itself was bland and salty in equal parts.

However, as an confirmed carnivore, I have a tendency to consider veggie dishes as being one ingredient short of a proper meal.

On the plus side, fried rice served with our meals was refreshingly grease-free and our Chinese tea was a delicate and light accompaniment.

The jury’s still out, but with an interesting and extensive menu, I think I’d give Hei Hei one more chance before I said “bye bye”.

Our meal came to about £12 a head, with soft drinks.

Jane O’Neill

Twitter: @janethejourno