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Mar 26, 2008 08:00 AM

Thai menu - need your advice

On the horizon is a meal at Manchester's alleged "best" Thai place - Chaophraya.

Now I have to confess that Mrs H and I are totally clueless about Thai cuisine. Really would appreciate your advice as to what to order to give the place a "good seeing to". I'll eat anything but, east of Europe, herself suddenly becomes a veggie.

Here's a link to the online menu. Of course, I'll report back after the meal



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  1. Aw they have literally NOTHING that I usually order :( Oh nm they have jungle!

    I think you should definitely try their tom yum goong as it sounds good and you can gauge a lot of Thai restaurants on this. If they could do their green curry with squid, then I think green curry is awesome, but for some reason I only really like it with squid. The green curry will probably be very mild even if you ask for it hotter. My favorite Thai curry is jungle curry. It's simpler and relies more on a couple of herbs and shrimp paste than other curries. It's really delicious. My favorite way to have that is with prawns and breadfruit or prawns and vegetables. Beef panang (gaeng panang) might be worth a try if they do it right; it's an awesome dish when done right, but it's just kind of greasy and salty when done wrong. Oh in the appetizers, the grilled beef salad and the mixed seafood salad both sound really good. Addie's Thai in Ears Court has a surprisingly good beef salad. You might want to try that. The mixed seafood salad just sounds a bit like the Issarn salads I like. Might want to try it. Thai salads are great; I have no idea why the menu is devoid of them. That New Zealand lamb salad sounds good too... I'm hungry... I think I'm going to go for lunch at Chao Thai or Srip now... The yang yum mamuang sounds really good too. I would avoid noodle dishes generally; drunken noodles from Srip are the only Thai noodle I really go for. Noodles are frequently street food in Thai cuisine and this place doesn't seem to specialize in that. I'd say stick to curries and dip into salads. Curries will give you something familiar because they're a little bit like their South Asian brethren and it's more of a simple set meal. They really should have more salads. Do they have a Thai language menu that's different?

    Since you're in the UK you should probably ask for every very very spicy, because I haven't had anything even close to Thai heat if don't do that in London.

    Oh yeah, that mixed seafood soup sounds awesome.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JFores

      "Since you're in the UK you should probably ask for every very very spicy, because I haven't had anything even close to Thai heat if don't do that in London."

      No kidding! I ate at Busaba Eathai last week and ordered the jungle curry - the waiter warned that it was the hottest thing on the menu (since I asked for a less spicy version of the som thum salad - I'm a wimp when it comes to spice!), but it was rather mild. Not that I minded, but those expecting a punch would have been quite disappointed given the warning!

    2. Definitely go for the Tom Yum soup - it's one of my favourite things to have in Thailand and done right is amazing. I also love Thai salads - if they have a green papaya one go for that because it's delicious. It may have dried prawns in it as well. My favourite Thai curry is Massaman, which is from the south of Thailand and influenced by more Indian-style spicing. It's not usually particularly hot.

      ETA - just seen they do have green papaya salad with a pork chop - a bit odd but actually I think it sounds good. I prefer my Tom Yum clear and not with coconut or milk, so I'd probably go for the chicken one.

      Be careful when asking for it to be extra spicy. Proper Thai food can be mind-blowingly hot!

      Thanks for the heads up on the restaurant, btw. Might persuade Mr GG to take me there at the weekend when we're up in Manchester.

      1. I would consider getting their grilled fish (plapao) if you think their fish is fresh. Thailand has a lot of coast (sea & river) and seafood is really one of their strengths.

        If you do get some of their salads (e.g. som tom/payaya salad) that should be very spicy, I would recommend having some sticky rice. It's a classic accompaniment for some of these Northern Thai dishes and has the effect of cleaning away the heat off your palate.

        BTW, it's a misconception that all Thai dishes are very spicy -- there are appropriate spice levels for each dish and there are many that shouldn't be spicy at all, especially the ones drawn from the Teochews in Thailand. It's really a very varied cuisine.

        5 Replies
        1. re: limster

          I might offer some words on HOW to eat whatever food it is that you order. In any Thai restaurant you can always tell the customers who have never been to Thailand. They're the people (1) eating with chopsticks and (2) they're the ones with a plate of main course in front of each of them.

          Thai's don't eat Thai food with chopsticks. The Thai national food instruments are the tablespoon and fork. Besides each diner's own utensils, each main dish should arrive with a serving spoon in it and you use those serving spoons to move a little main course item to your own plate. Then you use your tablespoon to get a little plain rice and then use the back of your fork to push a little of that main course item onto the spoon and then carry that to the mouth.

          For dinner, Thai's would never order any dish just for themselves. Everything, even for only two people, is ordered for the whole table and is shared around. If it is just you and Mrs. H. you might get 1-2 appetizers and maybe two main course items and supplement that with another main course item if needed. By eating this way you get to sample all of the dishes, and if one of them turns out to be a bummer you are not stuck with it sitting right there in front of you.

          1. re: ThaiNut

            Ah. Thanks for this, ThaiNut. Very helpful for a beginner.

            There will just be two of us. We like the sharing style of eating, whether it's Spanish tapas, mezze or whatever.

            I think it's coming together now. A couple of starters. Then a veggie main and a fishy main (as per limster), accompanied with the papaya salad (as per greedygirl) & rice. Good idea?


            1. re: Harters

              Too bad you can't add another couple. With more people you can order a larger variety of dishes to pass around. About the only rule for ordering when you have a group is that if one person selects a chicken dish, everyone else steers clear of chicken, etc.

              The papaya salad is called Som Tam in Thai. Ask any Thai who is from the NE of the country what their number one favorite food is and it is likely they will say Som Tam. It really is a staple in the NE. Now you should get plain steamed rice with your order and it should come automatically but you might ask to make sure. However, the Som Tam is best eaten with sticky rice. Ask for a small order and it should come in a rattan basket with a lid that holds perhaps a cup. It's quite proper to take some of the rice out of the basket with your fingers. Roll an amount as big as a large marble into a ball and dip it into the juice in the Som Tam dish.

              The ultimate Thai desert is fresh ripe mango with sticky rice, but in this case the sticky rice has been cooked with sugar and coconut cream. It should be in season right now.

              1. re: ThaiNut

                I think in the menu John posted the papaya salad actually came with sticky rice, which is a good sign!

                1. re: ThaiNut

                  I'm not keen on puddings - but the mango and sticky rice combination is completely and utterly divine - I still dream of it.

                  Strange thing is that the only pudding I can see on the menu is the tiramisu on one of the set menus - very odd.

          2. John, I would order:

            To start, NE Thai/Lao: the beef salad; but replace the mint sauce and grapes with some mint leaves and fresh greens (the staff will know what you're on about); and the papaya salad, som tom--request spicy. Eat these by hand with sticky rice, khao niew. Make a small ball of rice, place under three middle fingers, push rice downwards onto meat or salad, grasp, eat whole mouthfull. Accompany bites of rice and meat with the green leaves.

            Then go on to Central Thai: a) prawn soup, tom yam goong; b) stir fried duck, pad tao see, and c) thai green curry beef, gaeng kew wan. Have all this with plain rice, khao hom mali. Eat with tablespoon and fork (fork to push food onto the spoon). You could add or replace rice with a pad thai, noodles, if you're not habitual rice eaters.

            My suggestions try to give you a balance of a few selected dishes, avoids the more Chinese or more touristy dishes, and combines NE Thai/Lao to start followed by Central Thai. There are a lot of offerings on the menu that I would never request.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              you could ask your waiter for their recommendations, either on or off menu.

              things i like (if they are done well) which are fairly standard and you can probably find anywhere;

              green papaya salad - cant remember the thai name.
              fish cakes - tod man bla.
              chicken coconut soup - tum/tom ka gai.
              roasted red duck curry - gaeng phet ped yang

              sun dried pork (unlikely in Manchester !) - mu dad diew ? - this is superb at weerapats place in khao lak if its still there

              there is also a broad noodle dish with loads of thai whisky or brandy thrown in which i had at the night market in Trat and hich caused me to hallucinate. its called "drunken something"

              and anything from hemlock restaurant opposite the agricultural university in bangkok, towards the river walking away from the kow san road. ok this isnt much help for chaophraya manchester, but if you find yourself in bangkok, go. please. its fantastic. and reasonable for a sit down restaurant. the best food is of course every other street stall but if you fancy soemthing different, its royal thai on the cheap !

              1. re: pecandanish

                "this isnt much help for chaophraya manchester,"

                Err, no - but thanks anyway.

                1. re: Harters

                  sorry, do you mean me ?

                  the green papaya salad, fishcake, coconut chicken soup are all on the meanu 7,8,23 & 81.

                  and you could ask for one day sun pork & roast red duck curry

                  i think thats quite helpful !

                  1. re: Harters

                    John, if it's Bangkok recs you're after, I'm happy to "download" a whole load of info based upon the 3 months I spent living over there last year, just make sure not to fly there from LHR Terminal 5 :-)

                    I think that Thai food is a great cuisine and well worth your while exploring. You've been given lots of good advice in this thread albeit I'm sure that you'll find that Chaophraya serves a much more generic Thai menu so very little of the regional fare that some people make reference to. Still it will be sufficient to give you an intro. A couple of salads (papaya, beef and/or seafood), a soup (tom yum or tom kha kai) and a couple of curries (green curry and massaman) would be a good starting point. My advice would be to look out for certain ingredients and flavours, Thai food is full of wonderful contrasts and complements of flavours and textures. So chilli of course (small fiery ones); lime leaves and lemongrass which will certainly feature prominently in the soup and curries; galangal, a mellow, earthy rhizome flavour; thai basil, quite strong and somewhat liquoricey; fish sauce, made from fermented fish/shellfish. If you have a Thai (or Chinese/pan Asian) grocery store nearby maybe get hold of some of these ingredients before going to the restaurant and familiarise yourselves a little.

                    A well made mango w/ sticky rice is divine but I doubt you'll find it at Chaophraya, no harm asking I suppose.

                    1. re: oonth

                      Good idea, oonth. A Thai grocery shop has recently opened up in Manchester's Chinatown so I'll have a nosy. I'm familiar with fish sauce, of course, and have come across Thai basil, somewhere).

                      I'm not planning on visiting in Thailand in the foreseeable future, so no need for reccs there. I was but quoting your own post, pecandanish - my apologies if you inferred I was being offensive or dismissive.


                  2. re: pecandanish

                    Hi Hounds, sorry to interrupt, but if you wish to discuss the places in Thailand, please do so on the Greater Asia board, as this board is only focused on places in the UK/Ireland. Thank you for helping us keep the information where relevant chowhounds can find them.