Psst, Man United fans, come dine with LVG here
What do Barry Manilow, Diego Maradona and Tulisa Contostavlos have in common? They have all visited Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal’s favourite restaurant, Wing's, in Manchester. Press Association Sport sent its resident United reporter Paul Hirst - who has found Van Gaal a tough customer - to check it out.
The name of Wing Shing Chu may not mean much to you or I, but A (and Z)-list celebrities who reside in the north west or are passing through, know his wide smile and friendly demeanour well.
For 11 years he has provided the famous people with a safe haven on a night out - away from the prying lenses of the paparazzi.
This man is the chief greeter, top confidant and - most importantly - the owner of the famed Wing’s restaurant in Lincoln Square, Manchester.
Van Gaal brought the Chinese eatery to the world’s attention last month when he cited it as his preferred place to dine in the area.
The Dutchman said with a smile:
“My favourite food is Chinese food, and my favourite restaurant is Wing’s,”
“When I came to England everybody said the food is not good, but it is fantastic... Good wine list.”
Van Gaal was not kidding. He is a regular at Wing’s.
The framed plate with his autograph on it that hangs opposite the bar demonstrates as much.
Van Gaal is far from the only person to have put pen to porcelain at the restaurant.
Manilow has a framed plate, as does Tulisa.
Former TOWIE hunk Mark Wright can add ‘have own plate on wall at Wing’s’ to his considerable list of achievements.
These framed plates furnish every wall inside the cosy establishment.
But if you are United, your plate is given pride of place on a wall of fame in the reception room.
The likes of Robin van Persie, David de Gea and Angel di Maria have signed plates while Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs have also left their mark.
But why all the fuss? Is Wing’s really worth the hype?
My first impressions are good. Wing’s is a luxurious place, the staff are friendly and the atmosphere is welcoming.
The majority of the diners are wearing suits. The only man who is breaking the dress code (no trainers, sandals, shorts or casual sportswear) is Everton midfielder James McCarthy who has turned up in his jogging bottoms and a hoody.
McCarthy and his friends get their own private booth, but I and my dining partner, being mere mortals, are shown to a table at the back of the restaurant.
Our table sits underneath Wes Brown’s signed plate. He has written: “Hi Wing, I eat wingers.” Let’s be honest, it’s been a long time since that happened, Wes.
For starters we share Wings Hor D’oeuvres - a platter containing salt & pepper spare ribs - a favourite of Gary Neville’s apparently - seaweed, steak rolls in black pepper sauce and pickled vegetables.
Members of the prawn sandwich brigade will be particularly pleased with the prawn toast.
While waiting for my main course, I have a chance to have a nosy around.
As is the case on the pitch, City are making a push to be the top dogs in town. Yaya Toure has a signed plate hanging from the walls, as does manager Manuel Pellegrini.
Mr Wing has even included a Chilean Chardonnay on the wine list so the City boss feels at home.
The menu informs me it tastes of “toasty oak notes”.
I cannot taste that myself, but that is probably due to the fire that continues to burn in my mouth from the spices on the rib starter.
Unfortunately the ostrich steak I asked for is unavailable (the big bird must have legged it from the kitchen when it heard my order) so we order chilli lamb - Ryan Giggs’ favourite dish - and sea treasure, which includes a healthy amount of prawns for the suits.
Van Gaal may not encourage his players to indulge in the artery-clogging goodness of the Hakka Clay Pot Yam with Belly Pork dish unless he wants them all to move like Anderson.
I just have time for some deep-fried toffee banana balls before I walk past Van Gaal’s signed plate on the way out.
It reads: “Wing, relationship is a matter of a process! But your Chinese food was from the beginning fantastic!”
Having received a few scathing looks from Van Gaal since last summer, I know praise from the Dutchman is hard to come by so it looks like Mr Wing is on to a winner.
Pictures and a vine from Paul Hirst’s visit to Wing’s can be found on his Twitter page @hirstclass
Source: PA sport