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Restaurant review: The City Rendezvous (AKA the Chung Ku)

Fat Git goes for a tasty Chinese, with a tasty Russian, and ends up in a distasteful spin

Published on February 22nd 2010.

Restaurant review: The City Rendezvous (AKA the Chung Ku)

I HAVE only ever proposed to one woman. I wasn't down on my knees - but she was.

I was sitting in the back of the cab. It was Valentine's day, more than a decade ago. She was a regular fare, on the account, who worked at a Chinese takeaway called Jumbo Super Stir Fry in Clubmoor. She regularly stirred something in me, and it wasn't noodles, all the way back to Storrington Avenue fire station. By then it was usually me who needed hosing down.

'Come, I would like to ride on eye now,' she says, pulling me to my feet.'Blimey, I think, 'this one works fast,' the room still going around.

Love is like that. A fickle beast, but I have never forgotten her. And every time someone gets in the Fairway with an egg foo yung, I am reminded of the delicate fragrance of her hair; transported back to those nights of passion as surely as I transported her to Crocky.

Last Sunday was Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year. The real one and not the one that's taking place this week in Liverpool.

But that's OK because Cousin Tony is part of a Chinese dragon this weekend, him and his mates from a community probation self-help group.

He says 12 of them will be going around restaurants in Warrington, whether the restaurants like it or not, setting firecrackers off underneath this big creature they've made out of papier mache, Sugar Puffs boxes and blankets. They will be collecting envelopes of money from the owners and the customers in return for no bad luck. Happy days.

So I go off to the Chung Ku with Nadia. I met her on the rants on Liverpool Confidential.

Nadia is proper class. "I have lovely thick dark hairs right down my back," she told me on Skype. "So do I," I replied, "but none of them are on my head, like."

From her posts on this site, I already knew that she was a "passionate Russian woman who seeks mans for going out on hot date". That's me.

 “I am married to university medical professor, but he is flaccid in biology of heart. Nadia need more,” she purrs, her eyes dark and pleading, as we sit down by the window of this waterfront restaurant which now calls itself "The City Rendezvous".

She asks for vodka to be brought to the table. "The best," she snaps at the waiter.

I like a woman who knows what she wants and who knows how to get it. Nadia had suggested this place after reading on their website: "There is seating for up to 330 customers which boasts to accommodate young trendy clientele, fashionable country folks, successful business executives and football stars alike. 

"This will do," she had said, lighting her fourth Sobraine. "We only go to rich place."

We begin with a dim sum platter for two (£14). It's the usual anglo-Chinois fare of sesame prawn toasts, spring rolls, chicken samosas, steamed beef dumplings and seaweed. It's good. Bone dry and crisp where it should be, and meaty and generous where it should be. Or at least what I have of it. When my back is turned, trying to get Chief's attention for some soy sauce to lash over it, the St Petersburg minx polishes off the lot. "It is what it eez," she announces.

"But now I am hungry, let us eat whatever is delicious," she adds, seizing the menu in one hand and placing her red, sensuous lips around the tip of another delicious spring roll.

Before I can say wonton woman, Nadia has ordered a chicken chow mein (£7.50), even more spring rolls (£3.30), fried seafood with asparagus in a birds nest (£13.50), sliced Szechuan chicken (£8.70) and deep fried duck with prawn meat stuffing in oyster sauce (£12.70). Oh and a big pile of of egg fried rice for three (£2.80 pp) and prawn crackers to keep us going (£2.50). 

The price tag is big. But as Nadia reminds me, surveying my ample girth: "Fat Git, you are generous man, I would like to see below that." So would I, I think, having not even glimpsed my feet, let alone anything else, from a standing position, since I was 10.

The dishes are also of a good size. I wouldn't say massive, but you would probably think so. The chow mein noodles sit on top of a thin, bland broth and, on top of that, plenty of tender sliced chicken fillet, mushrooms and aubergine.

2010218Story-Chungku063Nadia is plying me with vodka martinis, something I had never considered with Chinese food before, and the room is starting to swim, as you can see by one or two of these pictures.

The duck is all thick meaty, tender chunks, but the prawn stuffing that it comes encased in, is thick, like a layer of fatty insulation. The sauce, however, with its delicate assortment of beautiful and minuscule chopped aromatics, is delicious and I can't get enough of it.

Szechuan chicken gives off a good blast of savoury sour and sweet heat from abundant red chillies. "I am getting hotter," murmurs Nadia, reaching for the vodka. "I like!"

The seafood and asparagus appear beautiful, but to this end have sacrificed depth of flavour. The vegetables, while looking the part, taste of little and are enhanced by less. There are plenty of fresh, huge and and perfectly cooked prawns, squid, tender scallops, but the bitesized asparagus and thick shards of spring onion are memorable only for being as squeaky as a mouse. Nadia begins twirling the thick, hard birds nest on her finger and I have to look away. It is messing with my eyes.

The efficient service is not too rushed and the army of waiting staff take time to smile. Every two minutes the Happy Birthday music is going off, so a lot of people come here to celebrate, and they pay for the privilege, as I am about to pay for the privilege of a night with this temptress and her Volga promises.

"Come, I would like to ride on eye now," she says, pulling me to my feet."Blimey, I think, "this one works fast," the room still going around.

Twenty minutes later, we are swaying in the wind at the top of the new big wheel by the Arena. She had meant the Liverpool Eye. And 20 minutes after that we are on the Terminator at the Valentine's fairground near the Tobacco Warehouse. The breeze is biting, hoodies are screaming, we whizz and whizz and Nadia laughs and laughs and yells for more, arms high in the air.

1802Ck2lgThe unrelenting jolts and spins of the ride get to me. Even more than the sensation of driving the cab, at speed, over potholes in Sefton Park. Then the mighty rock that is the temple of my stomach begins to turn. Haunted by 40% spirits and a demon, ranting woman.

This might be one hot Valentine's date, but as we are hurled upside down once more, I suddenly know, with 100 per cent clarity, that there will only be one thing blowing back tonight.

This is one Chinese meal that won't be easily forgotten.

Breakdown:7/10 food
4/5 service
4/5 atmosphere
Address:City Rendezvous Restaurant (Chung Ku)
Columbus Quay
Riverside Drive
L3 4DB. 0151 726 8191.

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing, 14-15 worth a trip, 16-18 very good to exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect.

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

SueFebruary 18th 2010.

As a self-professed connoisseur of good food, I am a lover and a regular of the Chung Ku/City Rendezvous. David and his team always ensure a thoroughly enjoyable visit, always accommodating even when they are at their busiest and we turn up without a reservation.I am of the opinion that there are only two Chinese restaurants in the city worth visiting: this and Yuet Ben, especially given that their styles are very different.My personal rating would be exceptional!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 30th 2014.

Do you still work there, Sue?

ShizzbizznizzFebruary 18th 2010.

Best dim sum I've had outside of Hong Kong; fresh, obviously made on-site and a good selection. Great for a lazy Sunday with the family

AnonymousFebruary 18th 2010.

The Yuet Ben is ok and no more.

AnonymousFebruary 18th 2010.

It's very pricey in the Chunk Ku, but at least they don't have the bouncer on the door any more. It's also looking a bit shabby on the outside.

32zzzedFebruary 18th 2010.


Rank OutsiderSeptember 28th 2014.

Fat Git's vocabulary appears to have grown enormously since he used to review pizza-and-chips and chicken-in-the-basket on Liverpool Confidential. Is he still a taxi driver?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
KnowledgeableSeptember 28th 2014.

He has been banged up for benefit fraud, sadly.

Rank OutsiderSeptember 29th 2014.

He must have been reading some the books in prison that the Tories are trying to ban.

Ramsey CampbellSeptember 29th 2014.

Which books are those?

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Which books are those?

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