BEST THAI Siam Smiles, Manch­ester

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You’ll find some of the bold­est and most au­then­tic Thai food served amid shelves of ex­otic pro­duce at Siam Smiles, a Thai su­per­mar­ket in Manch­ester. Pro­pri­etor May Ma­hasrabphaisal ac­quired the space on George Street in June 2014, and im­me­di­ately set about in­stalling cheap ta­bles and chairs down one side. She in­tended to feed the lo­cal Thai com­mu­nity with dishes from her home city of Chi­ang Mai, but Siam Smiles has had a far broader ap­peal than May could have imag­ined. Word about her fiery som tam Thai (pa­paya salad with peanuts and shrimp, £5.95) spread like wild­fire on so­cial me­dia. ‘I’ve just added three more ta­bles for two and it’s busy all the time,’ says May, who cooks food for the tiny restau­rant almost sin­gle-handed, re­ly­ing on tra­di­tional meth­ods such as pre­par­ing stocks the day be­fore and soaking rice overnight. ‘Many Thai restau­rants in the UK west­ern­ise their food and do starters and main cour­ses, but that’s not the way in Thai­land – you have lots of plates and share.’ May’s cook­ing cen­tres around im­ported spe­cial­i­ties such as co­rian­der root, pan­dan leaf, green pep­per­corns and fresh flat noo­dles. Her best-sell­ing dish is the deep, savoury tom yum noo­dle soup made with pork bone broth and flavoured with co­rian­der root, lemon­grass and pep­per­corns, served with rice noo­dles, minced pork, fish balls, fish tofu, morn­ing glory and bean sprouts (£6.50). Must or­der ghang led­uang – duck curry with rice D£8.50). Find Siam Smiles Café on Face­book

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