Siam Smiles

Creative Tourist

Nothing fancy, just damn good Thai food at reasonable prices. It’s a sweetheart story, the quirky, humble kind of place everyone wants to succeed: five tables with cheap plastic chairs lined up along the wall, and a tiny kitchen alcove that you’d swear was incapable of producing anything more complicated than beans on toast. Opposite the tables are shelves of powdered drinks, custard-filled biscuits and crisps in surprising flavours. The Ritz-Carlton it ain’t.

But who cares when you can eat like this? The soup noodles here are out of this world – each one I’ve tried has been better than the last. Tom Yam is a classic kaffir lime and lemongrass-inflected hot and sour soup, and their version, with three kinds of pork, might be the best in town. Kuai Tiew Tom Yam has a robust, chili-infused broth jostling with minced pork, pork balls and noodles, topped with a few pork scratchings. Kuai Tiew Moo Nam Tok is another meaty noodle bowl, with pig’s blood added to the broth and chunks of liver to make things interesting. Kind of a weird texture to have in there, I’m told, but good once you get used to it.

They also do rice-based mains: Kow Moo Krob is taut, crisp chunks of pork belly served with some great sticky rice. Kow Mun Kai features slices of chicken alongside a rich broth. Simple and good. Their sauces are particularly great – the one that came with our fish balls (which were fine; fish balls are fish balls as far as I’m concerned) was just the right kind of spicy, with the deep caramel sweetness of palm sugar behind it. Yam Moo Yor and Nam is a salad with slices of Thai sausage amid sauced-up fresh cucumber, tomato and red onion. It was great, even if I wasn’t totally sold on the “sausage salad” concept. Som Tam, on the other hand, was a deliciously fresh plate of slivered green papaya, pepper, cucumber, peanuts and dried shrimp drenched in a potent mix of chili, garlic, oil and fish sauce – not for the faint of heart.

The best part of eating here is choosing your drinks from the cooler. You could play it relatively safe with lychee juice or soya milk, but go for the one that looks like it has neon green frogspawn in it: Fresh Pandan Drink. Looks bad, tastes good. As with Siam Smiles itself, it never does to put too much store by appearances. This place may look unimpressive, but the food is worth shouting about.

Great Northern Warehouse, 253 DeansgateManchesterM3 4EN View map
Telephone: 0161 237 1555

Opening Hours

  • Monday10:00am - 7:30pm
  • Tuesday10:00am - 7:30pm
  • Wednesday10:00am - 7:30pm
  • Thursday10:00am - 7:30pm
  • Friday10:00am - 8:30pm
  • Saturday10:00am - 8:30pm
  • Sunday10:00am - 7:30pm

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

What's on near Siam Smiles

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
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

Where to go near Siam Smiles

Pho Manchester

Pho does a fine line in pho, the noodle soup that’s a staple of Vietnamese street cuisine.

hunan chinese restaurant manchester
Hunan Restaurant

Hunan, a Chinese restaurant in Manchester’s Chinatown, may be a bit off the beaten track – but it’s all the better for that.

Manchester Art Gallery Cafe

Summery bakes, seasonal salads and fresh light meals at Manchester Art Gallery’s in-house café, courtesy of highly-regarded Head Chef Matthew Taylor.

Yuzu Manchester

Japanese restaurant Yuzu in Manchester is the kind of place that beckons you to return– we review it.

The Portico Library, Manchester
Event venue
The Portico Library

A hidden Manchester gem, The Portico Library is in fact open to the public every day. The events and exhibitions here are excellent and where else can you take tea in refined 19th century surrounds?

Try Thai
Try Thai Manchester

Try Thai is an unfussy authentic Thai restaurant in Chinatown that has been quietly serving up superb quality food for years.

Salut Wines
Bar or Pub
Salut Wines

Salut wines pride themselves in offering “wider horizons beyond the safe choices.” With 42 wines by the glass and a regularly changing selection of bottles in their Enomatic wine preservation machines (or  “wine jukebox,” as they’re colloquially known), this is one of be best bars in Manchester for exploring new vintages.

City Centre

Elegant cocktail bar in the centre of Manchester, with a relaxed atmosphere and wonderfully friendly staff.

Red Chilli, Portland Street

Passionately adored by many Mancunian foodies (and the first Manchester restaurant in ages not to get a slating from notoriously picky Observer food critic Jay Rayner), this Szechuan restaurant rules the culinary roost from an unprepossessing basement on Portland Street.

The Alan

This high-end city-centre restaurant has an excellent afternoon tea option that more than matches up to the superb main menu.

Culture Guides