I had been dying to visit this place since I’d seen the rave reviews of it from both local bloggers and critics alike.
So this weekend on a gloriously rare sunny Manchester Saturday afternoon we headed down to Chinatown. We’d visited various times before when it was still Kim’s Thai supermarket that gave us serious travelling nostalgia. But the addition of a few white tables and plastic orange chairs felt totally right there and transported us back to the canteens of mainland Thailand we’d been to. We were worried that we might not get a table but luckily it wasn’t overly busy and we were seated straight away, a rarity in Manchester!
Now to the important business, the food. The menu seems to have expanded from the original reviews I read as there were lots of options all of which sounded delicious.
I am a sucker for a som tam so this was top of my list to order. We weren’t quite brave enough to go for the e-san super hot version but I would definitely go for it next time as we plumped for the regular som tam and whilst it definitely had a kick, I think I could take more heat! There’s no doubt though that it was a real taste of Thailand. It had been properly made, smashed in a pestle and mortar to combine the sauce with the crunchy ingredients. The sauce was the perfect mixture of heat, saltiness, sweetness and sourness, with the lime, fish sauce, sugar and chilli working in perfect harmony. This was helped along by the generous helpings of dried shrimp ladled over the top, something you tend to only see in real authentic versions. It was a cracker, best som tam I’ve had since Thailand.
Then there were the mains, how to describe these…we first ordered a crispy belly pork with rice and homemade sauce. Simplicity at its very best, it came accompanied by a sparkling little bowl of pork broth. This little bowl was probably my favourite of everything, it was so hearty and warming packed with marrowy stock flavour, enhanced with Thai herbs, coriander and Thai basil. Combined with the simple rice and juicy pork belly it was incredible. It reminded me of the simple but joyous hainan chicken I’d had in Malaysia and Singapore – simple plain rice, lightly braised meat and a delicious broth, you can’t beat it.
Finally we tried the hotly billed duck with noodles which did not disappoint. The broth was heavenly, with a strong duck flavour and was laden with crunchy morning glory, crispy dried garlic and shredded duck. It wasn’t the usual, pre cooked pre sliced meat it was glorious, skin on, full of fat meat torn from the bone, straight into the bowl. Finished off with a generous helping of my favourite of all noodles, spindly won ton noodles, this dish was just plain bloody delicious and I literally couldn’t get it down ms fast enough.
That, sadly was all we’d ordered and we were definitely full afterwards, though I did still have room for a cheeky packet of Pocky afterwards (the joy of it being a restaurant and supermarket!) This place comes highly recommend. And looking back to my previous restaurant review it’s hard not to weigh the two up and unsurprising which one comes up the winner. At Siam Smiles our bill came to a ridiculously cheap £24 and we’d eaten plenty! Not only that, it had been made by someone who had a clear and intrinsic understanding of flavour, which is always a delight. Definitely worth a visit next time you’re in Chinatown.