YOU want spicy? The reborn Siam Smiles up on Deansgate Mews will deliver. OK, the aromatic backdrop of its former location in a George Street basement is no more. The produce store is gone; the tight new premises are just a cafe. But the food feels as thrillingly authentic as before in the astute hands of owner Lallalin Mahasrabphaisal (aka May).
Food described memorably by Marina O’Loughlin in a Guardian review as “tastes to lose yourself in, so compelling they create an almost fugue-like state… the thrilling heat is causing my heart to beat worryingly fast.”
This is confirmed, even when choosing conservatively for a quick lunchtime pit-stop. Chilli-flecked noodle slurping was off – thanks to a white summer jacket and a business meeting imminent.
Still, there was papaya salad to cauterise the tonsils and a new dip for dense, lovely fish cakes that had its own uncompromising character. Why even the ‘safe choice’ green curry was a slap in chop reminder of how its reputation has debased by bland pub grub versions. This (main picture) was a glorious tangle of large al dente prawns, pea aubergines, courgette and bamboo shoots with a fiery chilli kick (£9.50).
It comes off a larger, more challenging a la carte. The buffet restarts on Wednesday, May 23, which we hope will encourage punters ascend the Great Northern steps to the former B.Eat Street site, also home to an another affordable, authentic place, Polish diner, Platzki.
The original Chinatown site, inside the Siam Supermarket, shut in March when rising rents became ‘too much’, leading to the shop’s repossession. After much communal support a cafe regular matched May up with the new unit. It’s under new ownership but she remains in charge of the menu, kitchen and front of house.
Siam Smiles Noodle Bar, Unit G, Great Northern Warehouse, Manchester M3 4EN. 07702741759. @SiamSmilesCafe. Open Tues-Sun, 12pm-8pm (10pm on Sat and Sun). No alcohol licence.