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1 October 10 words: Al Needham
Terracotta offers English diners the same traditional, authentic cuisine that the Chinese residents have been enjoying for years

The funny thing about Chinese restaurant clichés is that, ten minutes after you’ve had one (usually about the food being so globular and oily that you feel like you’ve necked a bottle of Spry Crisp n’ Dry), you feel the urge for another (usually about the staff being horribly snippy and rude). Alas, in the case of a lot of oriental eateries, there’s more than a grain of truth in that – but then again, there are also places like Terracotta.

Situated in the People’s Republic of Beeston, Terracotta spurns the usual nosh-by-numbers routine and introduces a unique selling point; offering English diners the same traditional, authentic cuisine that the Chinese residents have been enjoying for years. If you thought the food of the region was nothing more than sweet n’ sour this and egg-fried that, prepare to have your mind blown by an overwhelming range of textures and flavours.

After having a serious look over our shoulders at the local Chinese students getting stuck into a hot pot (a huge stockpot where punters cook what, when and how they like), we sorted out our own communal snap-related requirements with a whopping selection. My personal favourite, the braised aubergine with black bean sauce (£5.50) catapulted the usually humble and tasteless veggie staple into a whole new territory of flavour and texture, mingled as it was with bamboo shoots, tofu and black fungi. It was so good that we ordered it again, this time in a claypot with salted fish and minced pork (£7.00) – and yes, it made for an equally appetising, wholesome and healthy dish. Yes, healthy – not a word usually associated with your average Chinese, but that’s how they do it at home, taking the time to ramp up the flavour.

Round Two, and the boat was well and truly pushed out with the introduction of the stir-fried ho fan (fresh rice sticks) with three roasts (£6.10), a steaming platter weighed down with succulent cuts of belly pork, duck and char siew accompanied with crisp pak choi and carrots that would satisfy the sort of pickiest carnivore, and a seafood clay pot (£7.80) teeming with tofu, prawns, scallops and mussels.

To call Terracotta a superior Chinese is like saying the Great Wall of China is a nice little feature. The menu is colossal, with dining options ranging from the lunch menu to the aforementioned hot pot blow out, ]the student-friendly sharing platters to the 100-person function, and the quick bite to the eat-as-much-as-you-like. The adjoining cocktail bar (the only one in Beeston) does some blistering two-for £6.50 cocktails (the lychee-infused Beijing Breeze in particular), and there’s even a karaoke bar upstairs if you want the full pan-Asian experience. Which you do, quite frankly.

132 High Road, Beeston, NG9 2LN. Tel: 0115 9257248
Terracotta website

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