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A bit of China in the town centre; This week we're at LI WAH RESTAURANT in Billingham town centre. Elaine Blackburne gives her verdict.

NAME AND ADDRESS: Li Wah Restaurant, 43 West Precinct, Billingham, TS23 2NN TYPE OF FOOD: Chiefly Chinese cuisine - with a selection of English dishes PRICE RANGE: Appetisers range from soup of the day at PS1.50 to a variety of prawn dishes at PS7.50. Aromatic crispy duck was PS13 for half a duck or PS25 for a whole one, served with salad, Hoi Sin Sauce and pancakes.

Most mains were around the PS6-8 mark plus sides such as noodles (PS3.40), boiled rice (PS2.40) COST OF A DRINK: Pint of lager PS2.50, glass of house wine PS2.40, G&T PS2.40, fresh orange PS1.20. Also they were happy to serve free tap water unlike some other restaurants which insist on charging for bottled water.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: I'd looked at this restaurant on visits to Billingham and had even wondered if it was still open as despite it being in the shopping centre it is upstairs and out of the way. However on a night, once it is lit up, it was a different picture - a welcoming brightly lit eatery. Once inside we found a typical Chinese restaurant. We got a warm welcome from the staff who were friendly and helpful.

CHOICE OF FOOD: There is an excellent choice of all courses - dozens of options for the mains - with plenty of choices for beef, chicken, pork, seafood and duck in sauces including blackbean, satay, sweet and sour, lemon and plum.

There was also English food for those who did not want Chinese - ranging from steaks (fillet was PS12.50) and mixed grill (PS8.90) to Chicken Maryland (PS6.40).

WHAT WE ATE: To start my son Ben, six, chose chicken and sweetcorn soup (PS2.40), which he cleared, declaring it "delicious" while my daughter Eve, 13, and myself shared barbecue ribs (PS5.40) which were heavily coated in sauce but extremely lean with lots of meat on each. All three of us then shared half a crispy duck (PS13) which came with 10 pancakes, hoi sin sauce and salad. The salad was very watery but otherwise tasty and the duck was tender, crispy and very tasty.

| Barbecue For mains we decided to share Cantonese sweet and sour chicken, (PS6.40) chicken with pineapple and ginger (PS6.20), noodles and boiled rice. All came with large amounts of tender chicken and pineapple while the sweet and sour was also packed with peppers and onions. By mistake I had only asked for chicken and pineapple and I thought it a nice touch that the waitress came and checked whether I wanted ginger in it or without.

All the meals were delicious but sadly the portions of the starters were so big we had little room for our mains which were equally large - a lesson for the next visit.

THE GOOD BITS: The food was excellent and the staff friendly and helpful.

WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED: The table should have seated four but despite there only being three of us it was too small to fit the dishes on - and we only had two mains between three of us. I don't know where they would have fit any more.

SUITABLE FOR COUPLE OR FAMILY? Ideal for both - although a little on the quiet side if you have a boisterous toddler!

VALUE FOR MONEY: Our bill came to PS47 for two starters, half a duck, two mains and three sides plus drinks (Diet Coke (PS2.40 and milk 80p) so we thought it was excellent value.

WOULD YOU GO BACK? Definitely. The food alone is worth the visit while the greeting and service adds to the experience.

verdict.: ....

. ? RESTAURANT REVIEW The Gazette's writers are out and about sampling what's on offer at restaurants in and around Teesside. Each eatery is given a verdict for its value, its ability to cater for families and whether the reviewer would be keen to return for another meal

CAPTION(S):

| Barbecue ribs

| The main meals

| Li Wah Restaurant at Billingham
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Mar 25, 2016
Words:666
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