Prior to this visit, Elsa had been to Thaikhun before but she was eager to take Ryo there for a proper review of the place. Thaikhun was going around social media as a very authentic Thai place and Elsa had high hopes having not quite found the perfect Thai place. Being located in Spinningfields, both felt slightly out of place within the plaza of high rises and up-market boutiques.
Elsa: I love the outside of Thaikhun. They have really attempted to bring elements of Thailand into the restaurant and amidst the stark high rises, this is a wonderful splash of colour and comfort. I especially like the three-wheeled bike parked outside.
Ryo: What would be the best word to describe the exterior of Thaikun… Rustic? Eclectic? Whatever it is, it certainly stands out from other ultra-modern Spinningfields restaurants. The outside seating area looks very inviting especially during hot summer days (by that, I mean when it’s not raining…).
Elsa: The inside is an odd mix of Thai related items within an industrial interior. It’s not uncomfortable and in some ways I feel it matches the restaurant quite well, serving authentic Thai street food whilst being placed in an up-market part of Manchester. I like the high windows on one side of the otherwise dimly lit restaurant.
Ryo: It definitely is an odd mix of everything, though neither unpleasant nor uncomfortable. I quite liked the plastic condiment basket. It reminds me of Asia… My only issue was a very very tiny table. Even before we ordered food, it was already full with condiments and cutleries.
Elsa: The menu is quite extensive and the photos only show a portion of what’s available. There’s a good mix of spicy and non-spicy food and a lot of the menu items can be made vegetarian on request. There’s a lot to try if you are adventurous enough!
Ryo: The menu IS extensive and it has some decent sounding vegetarian and salad options. A big bonus for me as I love Thai salads (albeit with meat but you know…). I liked that they kept the Thai name of the dish rather the usual “stir fried chicken with Thai chilli paste and vegetables”. After all, a part of the fun is trying to pronounce these dishes!
Elsa: The Thai prawn crackers were a special offer and given for free if you showed the staff that you had posted about being in Thaikhun on social media. I really love Thai style prawn crackers, much better than Chinese ones and the sweet chilli sauce was a perfect balance of sweetness and spiciness.
Ryo: That Thai prawn crackers were good and moreish. They had the right amount of spices and were not too salty. Proper beer food! I had to stop myself from eating too much but I have to say, that was very hard…
Elsa: Ryo suggested we order the Moo ping, so I happily obliged. This was a really nice starter; the pork was well cooked and the marinade was heavenly complimented by the chilli dip. I cannot fault this.
Ryo: I don’t think you can go wrong with pork skewers (always a safe option…) but these were particularly good ones. They were tender and ever so slightly smoky and sweet. The sauce was tangy and spicy.
Elsa: Som tum is a classic Thai dish and the perfect balance to compliment our other dish, which was fried. I’ve ordered the som tum from here before and I felt it was made better then. This was slightly over-dressed and I felt like they ran out of ingredients as the beans and cucumber slices were oddly placed. It was still nice but definitely caught this on a bad day.
Ryo: One thing I noticed from Thaikun is that they are not shy away from strong flavours. I tend to prefer strong flavours in food but this som tum dressing had just too much fish sauce. As a result, it became soggy, salty and lifeless. I had to have it with quite a bit of rice just to balance out the flavour.
Pla Samun Prai
Elsa: What can I say, this dish was Thailand in a plate. You had sweetness, spiciness, sourness and saltiness all in one plate and what an amazing shaped plate at that! The sea bream was fried well keeping the crispiness of the batter whilst retaining the moistness of the fish, and the salad was to die for with the right balance of flavours. This is Thai food, unapologetic and in your face.
Ryo: Up to this point, I had a good dish (Moo Ping) and not so good dish (Som Tum) so my opinion was mixed… but this one just blew me away! I mentioned that Thaikun doesn’t shy away from strong flavours and this dish demonstrates just that! The fish was perfectly fried (crispy outside but moist inside) with the abundance of fresh herbs, lime and chillies on top. I mean tonnes and tonnes! All the flavours you imagine from Thai food is there – lemongrass, lime, coriander, shallots, galangal, coriander… I think this might possibly be the best fish dish I had in Manchester…
OVERALL RATING AND COMMENTS
Elsa: 8.5/10, -1 for rude/unresponsive staff. -0.5 for dodgy som tum. Each time I went (3 times in total at the time of writing this), the staff have been rather unobservant, forgetful or curt with their responses.
Ryo: 8/10, -1 for unfriendly service (it was almost like anything we ask them to do is a chore – and that includes ordering food and asking for a bill) -0.5 for over-dressed som tum -0.5 for a tiny table. It was almost impossible to touch anything on the table with a fear of knocking some stuff out.
WOULD VISIT AGAIN?
Elsa: Yes! This is my favourite Thai place in Manchester, finally, after searching for so long! If they keep the food quality good, this is a real winner for me. I just hope the staff’s attentiveness changes for the better soon.
Ryo: 70% yes? I’m in two minds. The fish dish was definitely worth the off-putting service and the uncomfortable table setting but other dishes were not so much so. It is no doubt a very good place, though, offering more exciting Thai dishes and flavours than the usual array of Green/Red curry and Tom Yum soup. So all in all, I wouldn’t say no if I have an opportunity to go there again.
Address: Unit 17, 3 Hardman Street, Manchester M3 3HF