Chaophraya Manchester

Ian Jones, Food and Drink Editor

If you have even the slightest interest in South-East Asian cuisine, or Manchester dining in general, you’ll have heard of Chaophraya. Opening in 2007 on Chapel Walks, this Thai restaurant almost immediately won best newcomer in the city’s food and drink awards, and went on to win best restaurant multiple times. There are now seven Chaophraya restaurants across the UK, along with Thaikhun, a spin-off chain focusing on Thai street food. But as business has boomed, has the food quality kept up?

It’s certainly one of the most attractive looking restaurants around, well-lit and relaxed, with a not-too-loud soundtrack of laid-back lounge music (unlike some of its rivals over in Chinatown). The two hundred person space is split into small cosy rooms, peppered with Thailand-related curios. And while the waiting staff wear traditional Thai garb and greet customers with a bow, it never feels stuffy or over-formal. Indeed, there’s a buzz to the atmosphere, largely due to the enthusiastic energy of the staff as they proudly recommend items, with a special reverence for the dishes most faithful to classic Thai cooking.

Chaophraya starter

The Maeklong platter is a fair reflection of the menu as a whole, combining conventional Thai starters with some uncommon but eye-catching items. The chicken satay skewers and prawn and pork dumplings are exceptional; juicy nuggets of meat crammed with cheek-watering umami flavour. The sweetcorn cakes are a must-try, sweet deep-fried clusters of corn that pair perfectly with the fiery dipping sauces. Crunchy spring rolls, not too brittle or too soft and bulging with chicken, are an unshowy but confident example of a simple starter made well.

The prawn tom-yum soup is more visually impressive than you’d expect from a simple soup. The bowl of chubby, obscenely-pink prawns tangled together with long enoki mushrooms looks appetising enough, even before the waiter pours a glass teapot full of red-hot sour soup over it. The whole thing becomes a creamy blend of Thai herbs and slippery shrimp, incendiary enough to cause chilli-induced nightmares but next-to-impossible to put down.

The bowl of chubby, obscenely-pink prawns tangled together with long enoki mushrooms looks appetising enough, even before the waiter pours a glass teapot full of red-hot sour soup over it.

The palm sugar and chilli glazed chicken is a new addition to the menu and leaps off the page. The meat, a baby chicken carefully split into four plump sections and grilled over charcoal, would be enjoyable enough by itself but the sauce takes it to new heights. A subtle blend of sweet plum and coriander, it doesn’t overpower but rather complements the soft buttery chicken meat, making for a refreshing alternative to the bold spice of other items. This dish might be new but it more than deserves its place.

And now for the national dish. The extensive list of ingredients in Chaophraya’s chicken pad Thai could become a jumbled mess in lesser hands, with tofu, turnip and carrot mixed up with rice noodles, egg, spring onions and egg. It’s not the most dazzling dish to look at, but taste is all that matters. It doesn’t disappoint. Every ingredient serves a purpose, a wonderful balance of flavour and texture, and clearly the result of years of fine-tuning. If you like to control the amount of spice, it comes with pleasing little mounds of peanut and chilli flakes on the side.

Chaophraya sunken seating

The desserts aren’t particularly Thai-based but make for an effective end to such remarkable food. The chocolate bombe, as seen on many a TV dating show, matches up to the tom-yum soup in the show-stopper stakes. Hot caramel sauce is poured over a hard milk chocolate ball, slowly revealing whisky-infused ice cream studded with chunks of caramel popcorn. The white chocolate box, which consists of fruit, meringue and a fluffy white chocolate mousse, doesn’t have quite the same wow factor but provides a light, clean end to the meal.

After nearly ten years, Chaophraya remains one of the city’s stand-out Thai restaurants. The menu is varied but not overwhelming, with a notable mix of classic meals and unique dishes, all demonstrating impressive levels of detail and self-assuredness. Then again, this is a restaurant named after Thailand’s biggest river, based in the centre of Manchester, a city world-famous for its waterways. Without doubt, Chaophraya knows its audience.

19 Chapel WalksManchesterM2 1HN View map
Telephone: 0161 832 8342 Visit Now

Opening Hours

  • Monday12:00pm - 10:30pm
  • Tuesday12:00pm - 10:30pm
  • Wednesday12:00pm - 10:30pm
  • Thursday12:00pm - 10:30pm
  • Friday12:00pm - 10:30pm
  • Saturday12:00pm - 10:30pm
  • Sunday11:00am - 10:00pm

Always double check opening hours with the venue before making a special visit.

What's on near Chaophraya Manchester

Comedy Balloon

Every Wednesday at Ape & Apple, Manchester’s official underground comedy club, Comedy Balloon’s friendly and warm comedy night takes place.

free entry
Ciarán Hodgers. Photo by Wesley Storey
Word Central at Central Library

Word Central is a long-standing live literature favourite at Central Library and features open mic performers and a special guest, brought to you by Manchester Libraries and Flapjack Press.

free entry

Where to go near Chaophraya Manchester

The Bull and Bear
The Bull & Bear Manchester

Headed up by Tom Kerridge, The Bull & Bear Manchester is the in-house restaurant at The Stock Exchange, the stunning hotel owned by Gary Neville and other famous faces.

Kala Bistro
Kala Bistro

Kala is the latest restaurant from acclaimed chef-restaurateur Gary Usher, who also owns Sticky Walnut and Hispi. It’s a welcome addition to the ever-growing and improving King Street food scene.

Mash Tun

Mash Tun is a craft beer and live music venue at the former Grafene site on Manchester’s King Street.

City Centre
Cross Street Chapel

Located in the midst of Deansgate, this community chapel regularly hosts cultural events, socials and activities. Check out their website for info and upcoming performances.

Stock Exchange Hotel

The Stock Exchange is a brand new luxury hotel from celebrated Manchester United footballers Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville’s GG Hospitality brand.

The Rice Bowl Chinese Restaurant.
City Centre
The Rice Bowl

This family-run business is widely-recognised one of the city’s finest Chinese restaurants. Whether you’re looking for authentic, unusual or just plain tasty, Rice Bowl has it all.

The Remedy Kitchen
The Remedy Kitchen

The Remedy Kitchen is a Manchester restaurant dedicated to healthy eating, with the goal to detox the body and mind.

Bar or Pub
Habas Bar & Restaurant

Habas is a modern Middle Eastern-influenced restaurant in the very centre of Manchester and the latest venture from El Gato Negro’s Simon Shaw.

Mr Thomas’s Chop House
City Centre
Mr Thomas’s Chop House

Mr Thomas’s Chop House first opened as a public house in 1870. It has beautiful arches and Victorian tiling, does classic British cooking and has an excellent wine list.

Culture Guides