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Rivers Chinese restaurant in Huddersfield does something different for Chinese students

Hot soup, raw meat and raw fish for a traditional DIY Chinese banquet


It's a Chinese restaurant that has a prime spot on the corner opposite Huddersfield Parish Church ... but does Rivers run deep when it comes to the flavour of its food?

It’s a large, open place with wooden tables yet strangely not wooden chairs, Let’s say they’re more functional and there’s some picnic style benches in there too.

The menu’s easy to read – there’s only really three pages to it – ideal for those with a short concentration span like me and in big type for someone who’d forgotten his reading glasses ... like me again.

The apple juice is homemade ... plenty of zing and well worth a try for the designated driver. Hang on, that’s me yet again.

The usual familiar names are among the starters – crispy spring rolls, crispy duck rolls, barbecued spare ribs, salt and pepper spare ribs, prawn on toast, deep fried Wun Tun.

There’s a special appetisers combination (£11) for two that includes several different starters but we shared a quarter Peking Crispy Duck (£8.90) served with pancake, cucumber, spring onions and Hoi Sin sauce.

Peking Crispy Duck at Rivers Chinese restaurant in Huddersfield

The duck was cut up at the table and both the cucumber and spring onion were exceptionally finely sliced, ideal to pop in with the duck in a rolled up pancake. Don’t forget that Chinese pancakes are exceedingly small – one would fit into the palm of your hand. These aren’t your Shrove Tuesday monsters you chuck out of a pan and come to a sticky end on the ceiling.

There were just about enough pancakes for the duck – why’s the skin always the best bit on crispy meat? – and offset with the sweetness of the sauce.

The other starter was mini veg spring rolls (£3.80) that certainly were small but had a crunch factor and a sauce dip to give it a slight kick and help the flavour along.

Now when it comes to the mains it couldn’t be simpler. Choose your meat – chicken, beef, king prawn, fillet steak or lamb – and then your sauce which included green pepper and black bean, plum chilli, ginger and spring onions, curry, kung po, satay, Peking or sweet and sour.

We went for king prawn in satay sauce (£8.60), chicken in kung po (£7.20) and chicken chow mein (£7.80).

The chicken in kung po arrived early ... too early. In fact, that’s all there was for a good five minutes and although our plates were warm the food had been served onto a cold dish. When the rest arrived the satay had to go in the opposite direction back to the kitchen to be warmed through.

The dish was predominantly chicken with little else apart from some thinly sliced onions and a couple of slices of green pepper for companionship. We expected more flavour from the kung po sauce that was in short supply – it certainly wasn’t gung-ho.

The king prawn in satay sauce had little red chillies and the prawns were certainly large fellas. Points gained for that but again the sauce just didn’t have enough oomph as we Yorkshire folk like to say.

If it’s style you’re after then the chow mein was the best looker on the night with fresh broccoli and Chinese cabbage and was probably about what you’d expect – but again nothing that’s going to stomp all over the taste buds. In fact, nothing to trouble them much at all.

Even before the mains arrived, food was served on the table next to us – raw meat, raw fish and even a whole crab alongside a large tureen of vibrantly-coloured hot soup, it turned out. Yet no-one was there ... until the diners arrived about 15 minutes later.

What on earth was going on?

And then, as we looked around the restaurant, almost all the other diners had the same – and although many appeared to be Chinese students there was a group of locals tucking into this delicacy too.

Hob Hot speciality for Chinese students at Rivers Chinese restaurant in Huddersfield. It includes raw fish and meat.

Turns out it’s a typical Chinese dish known as Hob Hot. There are two different flavoured soups in there and you dip the raw meat or fish in for a minute and, hey presto, it’s ready. Too long and the meat becomes too tough. The seasoned Chinese diners know from experience just how long to cook each different piece of meat from lamb to rib eye steak.

It reminds the Chinese students of home and comes in at £25 per head. The waitress said western diners don’t tend to like it and it turns out there was a totally separate menu for our Chinese student chums.

It then made me wonder if the menu we had chosen from was designed for western palates ... but they’d underestimated the burgeoning British craving for a myriad of flavours. Unfortunately, all-too-often the dreaded b word sprung to mind while we were munching ... bland.

It’s a menu that needs a rethink – throw in plenty of chunky onions, peppers and Chinese veg and don’t hold the flavours back.

And print the special Chinese menu in English, add plenty of background information about what it’s all about – perhaps with photos – and give us the chance for something different.

Cross Church Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2PT

Tel: 01484 432196

Website: No website and not on Facebook either

Opening hours: Noon-10pm six days a week. Closed Tuesdays

Children: Yes

Disabled access: Yes, plenty of room and a disabled toilet

The bill: £ £57 for three including a bottle of wine and drinks

Would you go back? Probably only to try the traditional Chinese dish



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