Two of the current venues receiving adulation from the Manchester based bloggers are Viet Shack based in Arndale Market and Siam Smiles Cafe in Chinatown who serve up Vietnamese and Thai food respectively.
Mrs Nom is a regular at Viet Shack for lunch and for the price it provides a refreshing alternative to regular sandwiches. Billed as Vietnamese street food the summer rolls with king prawn are light and packed with vermicelli and vegetables, they are great paired with the house made peanut sauce.
The bánh mì baguettes are one of the signature dishes of Vietnam and this version with chicken and pickled vegetables. The flavours of this were much more vibrant and interesting than ham and cheese sandwiches.
Out of all the dishes that we have tried the one that did not live up to the hype was the beef on rice, we found the beef a little dry.
Overall decent for a quick lunch but we can't wait until they branch out in their own space in the Northern Quarter. We've not had many pleasant experiences in Arndale Market, with limited seating and people generally leaving the tables in rotten states with rice all over the table and a lack of cleaners. Probably the most off putting is people going from table to table begging for money or food, not that we are chastising them for doing so but it is not something you want to encounter whilst eating.
Siam Smiles Cafe is essentially a supermarket with tables along the side offering a range of Thai dishes. The Thai language menu on the reverse side of the English menu is a little longer which amused me, whilst Chinese restaurants tend to have whole different menus altogether for Westerners!
We ordered a range of dishes to share including noodle and rice plates which were all a little disappointing. Kow moo krob, crispy pork belly with rice and pork sauce was quite bland with the pork belly a tad burnt and a surprisingly small portion. The kow ka moo with braised pork joint fared a little better but the advertised Thai broccoli didn't make it to the plate, being replaced with cucumber.
The two yellow noodle dishes we tried were kuai tiew roast duck soup with morning glory and bean sprout and kuai tiew moo dang, with roast red pork, sliced pork balls, bean sprouts, spring onion and choi sum.
The only dish that stoodout was a spicy mixed seafood salad with mussels, prawns and squid. With the flavours being interesting and with just the right amount of kick in the chilli.
Perhaps being Chinese and regularly eating quality roasted three meats has had an impact on my opinions on the rice and noodle dishes. The dishes are priced quite competitively at £5.50 and up but the portion sizes reflect it.