I’ve has heard about Siam Smiles largely from the Twittersphere as one of the most authentic Thai noodle places in Manchester. My friend and I decided to try this place one cold winter’s evening before a trip to the cinema. (This review is based on the old location)
Siam Smiles Exterior
Elsa: I admit I was hesitant to try this place beforehand as the joint supermarket/restaurant feel didn’t sit with me right. The exterior isn’t very welcoming.
Ryo: I have a thing about supermarket/café joints so I actually quite liked the look of the place! It can be either bad or good though – they might be using the freshest ingredients or the stuff they can’t really sell to the customers…
Siam Smiles Interior
Ryo: Inside was all quite… I don’t know… Asian? It did remind me of some street food stalls in Asia with its plastic tables, chairs and condiments. I don’t mind the setting at all as long as the food is cheap and cheerful. After all, we are eating in a supermarket/restaurant joint. But I have to say, the food is actually quite expensive! All mains are about £7-10 which are similar to more restaurant-y places. Let’s hope that the food is nice.
Elsa: Yeah, I was quite surprised with the cost of the food. Given the non-classy approach, I had expected it to be £1-£2 cheaper. Still I was very much looking forward to the food given the hype. It took a while to get the orders placed as the staff, although very friendly, weren’t as attentive as I thought they should be. Given that we went when it was not busy, I thought the service could have been faster.
Elsa: Usually I’m really up for Thai salads as I love the mixture of crunchy veg with the sweet spicy sauce, but as it was cold, I wanted something warm. It didn’t help that the door to the restaurant was always kept open and it was a cold evening when we visited this place.
Ryo: Yeah, that was the real downside of the place. It might work in warm weather with some fresh air coming in but in winter? In Manchester? No… I understand that they can’t close the door either since people wouldn’t know whether they are open or not. But it was really cold!! So no salad for me either. Some warming soup should do the trick though.
Dish 1 – Duck Noodle Soup
Ryo: Last time I came here they put so little stock in my soup that I could see the noodles poking out (incidentally I had to ask for a refill). At least now we have enough stock! Herbs are quite fragrant and meat was moist. The stock was quite synthetic though. I expected a bit of kick – after all, it’s a Thai place – but it was bland. They had some condiments, but I didn’t want to put some ready-made Nam Prik Pao on top of the already synthetic stock. I think giving a bit of fresh chilli and a lime wedge would’ve been nice. And the portion was really small! Given the whole “street-food atmosphere (with a restaurant price)”, I expected a steaming hot massive bowl of noodle soup!
Elsa: I was also quite disappointed with the food portion too. I kept thinking that I could have gotten a larger bowl of soup noodles with meat at another place in China Town. I did like the copious amount of herbs with the broth though, as I’m a sucker for coriander! The food itself was nice though, I just wanted more for the price especially on such a cold evening!!
Dish 2 – Steamed Chicken with Rice
Ryo: Steamed chicken was very moist, albeit a bit cold. I really enjoyed their rice though. It was well-seasoned so it went well with chicken. Otherwise, the dish might have been slightly bland. The sauce had a bit of kick but not spicy enough for me… but this could be a matter of taste though. The portion is again on a slightly smaller side.
Elsa: I was so addicted to this rice, it was soooo nice. I didn’t mind the cold chicken as I was had a semi craving for Chinese white cut chicken at the time, and the texture and taste were similar to this. I found the sauce nice but agree with you on the spiciness. I found the soup to be a bit redundant and as you mentioned, the portion was small. I could have definitely had more chicken with this dish.
Overall Rating And Comments
Elsa: 3/10: -5 for the atmosphere, -1 for the food portions, -1 for the service as it took a while to grab the attention of someone. I was just so disappointed with the food portions and although the food was decent, I could have definitely gotten more for my money elsewhere.
Ryo: 3/10 – 2 for the rice and 1 for the chicken. Granted, we didn’t order the most Thai sounding dishes, but I expected a bit of Thai flair in there. I’m not sure how/why this place is the most authentic Thai place in Manchester. Yes, it had the most authentic “feel” to it with its plastic chairs and tables but food-wise, it was rather bland. I mean, how can Thai food can be bland? And to quote Woody Allen – the food here is terrible, and the portions are too small.
Would visit again?
Elsa: No for me too. Just not worth the money they charge.
Ryo: Nope, I would rather go to Try Thai for lunch! Might not be the most authentic place, but at least it’s warm in there.
Address: 48A George Street, City Centre, Manchester M1 4HF
Do you like Thai food? Have you been to Siam Smiles?
Let me know in the comments below.