A CHESTER city centre buffet restaurant and its chef have scooped prizes at the prestigious Asian Restaurant Awards.

Panda Mami, based on Newgate Street, was named the joint winner of the Best International Buffet Restaurant (North of England) award – along with the chain's branch in York – during a ceremony in Manchester.

Xiang Yang Liu, chef at the Chester premises, was victorious in the Best Asian Fusion Buffet Chef category at Tuesday night's (August 31) awards.

The Asian Restaurant Awards are organised by the Asian Catering Federation (ACF) which represents the nation’s 30,000 Asian and Oriental restaurants.

Panda Mami Chester, which became the chain's first restaurant back in 2016, serves a wide range of dishes from around the world.

Addressing the ACF's first awards ceremony with a live audience since 2019, its chairman Yawar Khan acknowledged the Asian hospitality sector’s resilience, innovation and generosity in the face of a global pandemic.

He said that in order to survive, some Michelin-starred fine dining Indian restaurants began offering takeaways for the very first time.

Others sold finish-at-home meal kits, containing pre-measured ingredients and recipe instructions.

Another operated pop-up delivery kitchens, based in locked-down pubs.

He warned that despite the general reopening since lockdown, that restaurants face more adversity in the form of rising prices and worsening staff shortages.

"Compete on quality not price and train and reward your loyal, hardworking staff well – because if you don’t, someone else will", said Khan.

The evening was attended by 500 leading restaurateurs, chefs, food writers and VIP guests.

With the shortlist determined by over 100,000 public votes, the awards were opened to all Bangladeshi, Burmese, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Middle Eastern, Pakistani, Singaporean, Sri Lankan, Thai, and Vietnamese restaurants and takeaways in England, Wales and Northern Island.