Opening a new business is no mean feat.
But doing this while trying to shake off the bad reputation of the previous restaurant owner is a mammoth task.
So hats off to the owners of the recently-opened Oriental Village on Red Bank Road in Bispham.
New owners, new kitchen, new menu... it’s a completely new restaurant.
And it fills the Cantonese cuisine gap left behind in the village when the New Harmany closed in the wake of hygiene concerns.
We visited last Friday evening and were delighted to discover a modern, stylish restaurant.
Gone is the trademark fish tank and chintzy red decor.
The venue has been transformed with grey and black furnishings and an attractive cocktail bar.
The old kitchen has been completely ripped out, with staff saying everything from the wiring down to hygiene flooring has been replaced.
There’s a huge choice on the menu with various banquet options and specials.
We opted for the Village Banquet for four (£16.95 per person).
The combination starter offered a great selection with sesame prawn toast, crispy seaweed, meat spring rolls, salt and chilli wings and satay chicken skewers.
Everything on the plate was perfectly cooked with the favourites being the sesame prawn toast (with chunky, succulent prawns, what a revelation!) and the salt and chilli wings.
This was followed by the course we all look forward to tucking into – the crispy aromatic duck.
The waiter presented the huge portion of duck to our table before shredding it in front of our eyes. A nice touch.
There was sufficient cucumber, spring onion, plum sauce and pancakes but when the waiter spotted our dish going down well, he offered to bring over more of everything. Very generous.
For the main banquet courses we chose a selection of four dishes to share.
The crispy chilli beef had just the right amount of crisp and the chicken in curry sauce was a hit.
The pork chow mein and beef in blackbean sauce were by far the tastiest Cantonese dishes we’ve ever eaten.
Fresh vegetables were plentiful, the meat in both dishes was succulent and the sauces had the perfect flavouring.
One of the most pleasant surprises of the evening was the excellent ‘Oriental Kung Fu Panda’ children’s menu with dishes including homemade fresh chicken balls with chips and chicken or beef stir fried noodles with beansprouts and onions.
One of our young diners chose the chicken fried rice with sweet and sour sauce, served with prawn crackers.
It was a brilliant sized children’s portion and tasty to match.
And for £5.95 it included a choice of cordial juice and ice cream for dessert.
We put minor issues of having to remind staff for the children’s drinks and no prawn crackers with the youngest one’s meal down to teething problems.
Besides which, it took nothing away from the overall friendly service we received.
To top it all off, none of the family had that groggy, dehydrated feeling you can often experience after eating similar cuisine in other restaurants.
With delicious, generously sized dishes in modern surroundings, we’ll certainly be back for another banquet.
It’s a great addition that Bispham was crying out for – long may it thrive!
Gazette rating: 9.5 out of 10