It felt like a Bear Grylls episode in Manchester's CBD, slipping between buildings while mother nature was scorning me with icy cold winds and the odd projectile. I also know how Bear feels when the camera man goes to sleep, and he is able to escape to to his safe haven - but what would that be for me? A new establishment by the same crew behind the highly touted, Chaophraya. The restaurant is called Thaikhun (pronounced Tycoon), and Manchester was certainly living up to this name as the winds came calling, but as the large door swung open it was far from a natural disaster; the warm heat met my face, and I was greeted with a bow and ‘sawatdi’. Suddenly, I was in the middle of Thailand…..
The Food and Drinks
Okay, so maybe not quite….but the extra effort for authenticity was not missed. My forever smiling waiter, Tor, guided me through the menu which unlike it’s more astute old brother Chaophraya, was aimed to taste like the streets of Thailand. A £5.25 platter of four Bangkok tastes gave me a sneaky Thai-snippet as a modest array of meats, and 3 won tons were well presented, each coupled with their sauce. As a spicy food regular I had my eyes on the beef - Tor had it beefed up to ‘Thai man hot’ and I happily gobbled it down. My mouth was then cooled with a traditional Thai pancake, the pandan leaf 'Sankaya', and ice cream at £4.25 - and although my tooth isn’t usually a sweet one, this was the perfect gooey treat to get me over the finish line.
Thaikhun was definitely not a ‘one trick’ pony, as the meal was washed down with some delectable cocktails - the Thaikun at £7.95, which included ginger, lemongrass, chilli and mint, Chivas regal, apple juice and coconut gomme, gave as much ‘pow’ as the beef, but had a enough of a summery citrus blend to even it out. Another tasty, liquid trick was Tor flipping a full beer glass upside down without losing a drop - what can I say, i’m easily entertained.
The Venue and Atmosphere
The clientele were definitely a Manchester bunch, a happy mix and match of students, families and office goers. The building is very much CBD industrial chic, but the Thaikhun decorators have obviously spent up large at a Bangkok Garage sale as Thai accessories; bikes, lamps, buoys and maps adorn the venue ceiling and walls. Overall, a pleasant environment suited for both a table for two or larger groups - enough Thai-ness to be a little bit over the top, but not enough to care.
The food was not dressed up, nor intended to be. As a regular consumer of Thai cuisine, it is up there with the best and for Thailand prices - not that inexpensive, but great for the UK. The service was warm and the other punters cheerful. Thaikhun is definitely a force to be reckoned with.