I love unearthing hidden gems when it comes to restaurants.
Most of my favourite eateries in Wearside aren’t big and flash, but smaller, independent restaurants where the food speaks for itself.
When I stumbled upon Kylin Oriental, hidden in the midst of a housing estate in Albany, I couldn’t wait to try the food as the menu caught my interest straight away.
Not many places in Sunderland offer dim sum, but this one does in various forms.
There’s also a huge variety of main courses, including seafood dishes and the option to make your own meal.
I decided it was the perfect place to take my newly-engaged friends Amy and Wayne to chat about their wedding plans, and hopefully discover a decent eatery.
The exterior of the 80-seat restaurant doesn’t do justice to the inside.
Decorated in rich reds, with gold napkins and ornate wooden tables, it oozes flavours of the Orient.
The vast menu means it took a while to chooses our dishes, but eventually we settled on a meal, ordered drinks – a bottle of white wine cost £15.49, and a pint of Foster’s £3.20 – and were given a bowl of prawns crackers and chilli dip while we waited for the first course.
The waitress, who appeared a little nervous about her service skills when placing down our dishes, delivered steamed king prawn dumplings (£3.80) and a quarter crispy aromatic duck and pancakes (£10.50) for the happy couple.
I was impressed with the tasty little dumplings, which came settled on a banana leaf in the traditional steam basket.
The duck was also declared a hit, with no fat in sight, and minimal discussion over who got the last pancake.
We had time to let the first course digest before the many dishes which made up the main course arrived.
I opted to make my own meal and chose char siu pork with ginger and spring onion sauce (£8) and a portion of plain noodles (£4).
Amy chose stir fried chicken with mushrooms (£8) with fried rice (£2.50).
And Wayne crispy shredded beef with chilli (£8) and fried rice.
The food was well cooked and packed with flavour and thankfully wasn’t swimming in grease as it often can be in such eateries.
But, as is often the case with Chinese restaurants, the large portions were too much and there was a lot of food left over when we’d finished.
More people had come into the restaurant as we’d been eating and it was quite busy for a midweek evening, though the staff let us sit for a long time to finish our drinks.
After dining in surprisingly luxurious surroundings we left satisfyingly full and fully debriefed on the wedding details.