With the humidity in Manchester at over 90%, what better time to de-stick and have lunch at Manchester’s new Thai restaurant, Busaba Eathai?
As if the heat and humidity alone aren’t enough to transport me back to a summer’s afternoon in Bangkok, the waft of incense as we enter Busaba takes me there. Situated in the Printworks, Busaba is right in the centre and convenient if you’re out shopping. Vast, open and bright the restaurant, over two floors, is welcoming and embodies the relaxed atmosphere of the likes of Tampopo and Wagamama, which is unsurprising since founder Alan Yaum also conceived Wagamama. The first Busaba Eathai restaurant opened in 1999 in London’s Soho, and following its success several other sites across London opened and now Busaba is making its mark on the North West.
Busaba is a modern Thai eatery, so whilst the dishes are heavily inspired by Thai cuisine, they are familiar, too. To start we order the Thai calamari and sticky tamarind wings. The calamari is one of Busaba’s signature dishes and is one everybody should order. The batter is light, the squid is bitesize and not in the least bit rubbery and is generously seasoned with ginger and green peppercorns. It’s a delight.
A Singha beer and a bowl of this calamari sat outside in the sun would be a little piece of Thai heaven mid-shop. The wings are sweet and sticky from the pineapple, with a gentle heat from the ginger, finished with a kick of chilli and cooked until falling from the bone; even so, the calamari is top trumps and we could happily (and greedily) eat another bowlful if mains weren’t on their way.
The menu is extensive and there’s plenty of options with varying price points from which you can choose. For our mains, we order from the Modern Bangkok menu which is recommended. My companion who is a little shy when it comes to heat opts for the chargrilled duck breast with Chinese broccoli and tamarind sauce and sticky rice. The duck is well-cooked and the sauce sweet.
I, on the other hand, like the thought of breathing fire and order the red chilli beef filet which is stir friend with garlic, chilli, spring onion and is served with jasmine rice. There’s a good amount of chilli in the beef dish but the heat doesn’t mar the flavour and the sauce is rich and the beef tender while the spring onions add a welcome freshness to the dish.
Deserts are classics interpreted with a Thai influence and there’s mango and coconut abound, but we choose a creme brûlée, infused with kaffir lime, and the salted caramel chocolate slice which is dressed with strawberry coulis, fresh raspberries and blueberries.
There’s also good range of drinks both non-alcoholic and alcoholic. We indulge in pairing cocktails with our lunch to balance out the heat of the day as well the heat in our dishes. The cocktails are prepared by a mixologist and undoubtedly refreshing with a Thai kiss. The lychee martini (lychee, kaffir lime infused vodka, grape juice, dash of citrus and lightly sweetened) is by far my favourite, but the muay Thai and coconut collins are also deliciously complex and cool my brow, too.
Service is attentive and genial throughout our time Busaba Eathai, and the staff are all knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the food and drinks on offer.
If you’re a fan of Tampopo and Wagamama’s, then why not add Busaba Eathai to your melange of easy going, well-priced restaurants? It’s a fantastic choice for a tasty Thai inspired lunch right in the centre of Manchester.