InShanghai, Durham City Centre

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HEAVY downpours turned our annual visit to Durham Miners’ Gala into a soggy washout.

Fed up with sheltering in tents between rainstorms, we plodged off to the city centre in search of something to eat which wasn’t served from a van.

Following my lead, our gang of four headed to InShanghai, tucked under Durham’s shopping centre and overlooking the river.

It’s been a few years since I ate at the eat-as-much-as-you-like buffet and perhaps a little of its shine has worn off.

Despite the thousands of people marching through the wet city, we didn’t have to wait long for a table.

During the day your standard Chinese dishes are on offer, though, admittedly, InShanghai does it slightly better than most.

Though I would have preferred seafood, it wasn’t to be, with just the tempting name tags of various prawn and mussels dishes waiting for the evening diners.

Instead I filled my plate with stir-fried vegetables, sweet and sour and char siu pork.

One of my friends is vegetarian, but she managed to find enough in the way of noodles and egg foo yung to keep her meat-free and happy.

There were also plenty of deep-fried starters, with chicken in batter and spring rolls and we did spot the stereotypical buffet diners enjoying piles of chips.

My partner declared himself full after two small plates and tried a bowl of sweetcorn soup, which was “hot enough, but didn’t really taste of anything”.

It was all passable, but a little too salty, which in Chinese food can be a sign of too much MSG, leaving you hungry not long after you’ve dined.

Pudding was also pretty standard – tinned fruit, cake or value ice cream.

Luckily, service has remained as good as when I last visited, with our empty plates and drinks both disappearing and appearing quickly.

Inside, InShanghai still looks like a trendy wine bar and the toilets are equally plush.

It certainly saved the rainy day, but needs a few tweaks to bring sunshine back into diners’ lives.

Despite our gripes, dinner for four with drinks was just £37.50.