Recommendations are a fraught affair. I’m sure Bébé came highly recommended by Jorge Mendes and Vitória Guimarães when United signed him, but then there was €3.6m in it for the super-agent and €5.4m in it for the club, so I’d probably have recommended a one legged koala if I were in their shoes.
Restaurant recommendations are similarly slippery. TripAdvisor, for example, is about as reliable as the East Didsbury Metrolink. Advice from friends is usually relatively reliable – unless the friends “don’t like fish” or “don’t trust the way gravy looks at them” – however you can never be completely sure how large a pinch of salt to take it with… or to take with you.
It was with some glowing words of praise from a couple of friends that we took our regular Friday lunch crew from the office to ‘Try Thai’. We’d bumped into them whilst in Siam Smiles the previous Friday, and were enthusiastically told that Try Thai was their favourite China Town lunch spot, and that they were only in Siam Smiles because TT was full. One even had the foolish audacity to claim the Thai Spicy Salad (with duck) was his favourite dish in Manchester… Eyebrows rose. Ears perked up.
So come Friday lunchtime, how reliable were we talking – was this more Bébé or bob on?
It was hot, yes, but if it’s got the hottest rating on the menu then I expect it to at least blind me, even if only momentarily.
Clearly we had to sample this now infamous (amongst about three people) Thai Spicy Salad, but to give the visit a bit of breadth some garlic spare ribs were ordered. The salad had no less than four (out of a possible four) ‘heat’ *stars* attached to it on the menu, so we were prepared for it to be as hot as it was show-stopping… but unfortunately it was neither of these. It was hot, yes, but if it’s got the hottest rating on the menu then I expect it to at least blind me, even if only momentarily. It was also almost overbearingly salty, and this is coming from someone whose attitude to salt is to look over at heart disease, sitting there all smug, and shrug at it whilst eating a packet of Pringles.
The duck was nicely cooked, but the overall experience was really just OK. And that’s fine – this is a starter on a £9.95 three course lunch menu, so producing the best dish in Manchester was always going to be a bit of a tall order. There is not much to say about the garlic ribs other than that they were a decent starter: crispy but soft. Saying that they weren’t actually very garlicky sounds like a terminal criticism for garlic spare ribs but they didn’t really suffer as a result: the rib flavours were familiar and robust.
…it’s pretty cheap; the atmosphere is chatty; and it’s a fresh, pleasant change from the usual hotdogs, burritos and burgers.
Green curry with crispy belly pork followed. This was a good dish – the pork was crispy and rich; the curry a myriad of textures with a subtle kick. My memory of it isn’t brilliant because I had to wolf it down before we got back to work, and that is my only real criticism of the £9.95 menu: if you’re looking to go there on a work lunch and don’t work for either a bank or the government then you’re going to be pushed for time. The whole experience took around 1 hour and 20 mins, and that was without waiting for our third course of either ice cream or coffee.
This is an unfair criticism of the restaurant as a whole, however, because they offer an Express Menu for £5.95 with seven rice and noodle dishes to choose from, so you should probably just order from there if you go.
And go you should: not because they’re peddling some particularly fine one legged koalas that I’ve invested a shed load of money in, but because it’s pretty cheap; the atmosphere is chatty; and it’s a fresh, pleasant change from the usual hotdogs, burritos and burgers.