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Koh Samui

Gordo wears a Thai for once

Written by . Published on April 24th 2008.


Koh Samui

Many years ago, this was one of only two Thai restaurants in Manchester, managed by Gordo's pal Steve Wakefield. It was then called the Chiang Rai. Steve, along with his beautiful wife May, now own their own Thai restaurants, Chilli Banana, in Wilmslow, Macclesfield and Liverpool. Their success is much deserved, May is a stunning cook and Steve a fabulous host. Back in the day, Gordo remembers great nights with tables groaning with Thai food, Gordo having had to rely on Steve's recommendations as his knowledge of Thai was non-existent.

Main courses chosen were, fittingly, the drunk's cure with crispy belly pork (£7.95). It is labelled 'extremely spicy' and is just that, but really well delivered, packed with flavours that kept going off in the mouth like mini fireworks.

Now-a-days of course, there are several Thai restaurants in the city. The one in Pacific, Chinatown was rated the best by Gordo's pal Drew Smith, ex editor of the Good Food Guide, eight years ago, but is now in Gordo's opinion the worst, with a recent buffet meal at lunch being close to poisonous. It was so bad Gordo felt queasy for a day after. In the toilets there was a list on the wall stating when it was last inspected. Normally on an hourly basis in well run establishments, no-one had bothered to check it for three days in this one. Which speaks volumes about the kitchen and the management.

Arguably the best is Chaophrya, with Vermilion over near the 'B of the Bang' doing fantastic food as well. The interior there, readers, is jaw dropping.

It never enters Gordo's mind to try Koh Samui, until he was trying to decide where to eat sitting in Gordo Towers. Sod it, lets try that Koh Samui round the corner. Gordo's pal wanted Chaophraya again, but it is always good to try somewhere different. That's the job, innit?

The restaurant's in a basement opposite Manchester Art Gallery, it looks a bit gloomy from the outside. Until you walk down the steps. Very light and airy, lit with pools of light from lamps with shades and well placed spots, the odd Buddha knocking about and plenty of flowers, all coming together to give a contemporary colonial feel to the place. The welcome is lovely, charming even which seems to be standard with all Thai staff: they really are great at their jobs. The place was busy with an eclectic mix of people in, Gordo was seated at a table at the back of the room.

The last time he had been here was taking his best pal Lawrence Millett, who is now on a cloud in heaven, along with his wife Faye Stockton for her birthday. That was nearly fifteen years ago, but Gordo still remembers the fish being fantastic. The new ownership's website tells us that they still specialise in fish and shellfish, the selection on the menu confirms this.

Gordo picked out four starters. Chicken satay (£5.95) was a good, if unadventurous start, the peanut sauce being first rate whilst the 'soup cucumber dip' did a good job job of cleaning the chicken up. Herb chicken wrapped with pandanus leaf (£5.95) was a better choice.

A first for Gordo, he will order these ahead of Chicken satay in future. It's always lovely when you get to unwrap food at the table, a bit like a picnic without the ants. King prawn toasties (£6.95) were a good deal bigger than your average toasties, whole prawns wrapped in bread, deep fried having had sesame seeds sprinkled over them. These were a delight. Stuffed squid (£6.95) was a bit of a let down. Well, maybe it simply wasn't to Gordo's taste. Dry and leathery, deep frying the squid did nothing but toughen it up to Gordo's mind.

Main courses chosen were, fittingly, the drunk's cure with crispy belly pork (£7.95). It is labelled 'extremely spicy' and is just that, but really well delivered, packed with flavours that kept going off in the mouth like mini fireworks. You could choose to have halibut (£12.95) or indeed sea bass (£15.95). Another choice and the belle of the ball came in a large clay pot, sat atop another which held a candle to keep it hot. Baked mixed seafood with vermicelli, pepper and coriander (£12.95) was an adventure. Lifting out great spoonfuls of steaming vermicelli with chunks and strips of halibut, sea bass, prawns, all caught up like they were in a net a couple of days ago, was a great experience. The smells coming out of that pot were divine, a dish you could linger over.

You get a very sensible wine list of the variety that state the type. Gewurztraminer, £16. We aren't told the year or anything about the producer. Similarly, Rioja. £18. The good thing is that there are virtually no wines over £20. One that is gives a clue to the mark up policy here: Dom Perignon, £99. That must be coming in wholesale at around seventy English, so if the mark up remains the same for the cheaper wines it may well be that they are a bargain. Gordo will try them out on the next visit. Yes, there will be one. This is a restaurant with a few flaws, but accessible, very friendly, charming. Along with a really traditional Thai menu it is an overall winner.

Rating: 14.25/20
Breakdown: 6.5/10 Food
4/5 Service
3.75/5 Ambience
Address: Koh Samui
16 Princess Street Manchester
M1 4NB
0161 237 9511
Website

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33 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

very offendedApril 24th 2008.

in be the interest of impartiality maybe some-one who does not know the owner or has an afiliation to a place should not review the resturant. I am pakistani and proud. How dare Gordo say Wilmslow Road be burnt down he said that when he visited a city center resturant which belongs to friends of his

Tim HowellApril 24th 2008.

Dear Very Offended Lady,Yeah here's to not being a sell out !That said Koh Samuui is my favourite restaraunt this side of Thailand...& Khalids Kebabish is my 2nd fave. Keep eating...Heres to women looking like women & not sticks.

edApril 24th 2008.

Agree Chilli Banana is still great and the food taste just as good at their Lark Lane restaurant in Liverpool

Tim HowellApril 24th 2008.

I love this place so much. The food is great, the staff are amazing & John & Gek are the best hosts you could Imagine. They brought me a huge birthday cake last year !!!I would recommend the steamed mussels, the crispy belly pork, the tri flavored duck...Heck they'll even make you a Laab Gai if you ask them nicely. I'm gutted I work in Heywood now so can't get there in the week no more. I do not believe for one moment the comment someone wrote about a cockroach walking over the table & the management not doing anything,It would not happen ever.Thai Club forever.

W. RangerApril 24th 2008.

Koh Samui is a fantastic restaurant - the food is consistently excellent and the service is tremendous. The spicy beef salad is mouth numbingly delicious. Koh Samui also hosts the annual Christmas meal for the famous Wahlley Rangers football team. What more could you want?

YawningApril 24th 2008.

Dear annoyed, do read the review properly and you'll see that it used to be managed by Gordo's pal several years ago; not currently. 1st paragraph.

RuthApril 24th 2008.

I think this is one of the best restaurants in Manchester. I've been many times and never been disappointed.

very offendedApril 24th 2008.

Dear Tim I certainly will try out Khalids and give him your regards, by the way I am female so cant be a fella maybe you should review the resturants I would certainly go off your recommendations you dont come accross as a corporate sellout

gorApril 24th 2008.

Absolutely rubbish. A waste of a night out. I have had tastier food from a takeaway. The food was boring, lukewarm and the chicken was the driest chicken i have ever eaten. We had to ask for the bill 3 times with empty plates in front of us while they just carried on clearing other tables. In the end we walked towards the door - then they decided to give us our bill! gutted that we wasted 60 quid in here and wish I had gone to red chilli. Never againi.

BeverleyApril 24th 2008.

This is by far the best Thai restaurant in Manchester. Although the decor is slightly dated the service and food is oustanding.

very offendedApril 24th 2008.

Dear Tim I certainly will try out Khalids and give him your regards, by the way I am female so cant be a fella maybe you should review the resturants I would certainly go off your recommendations you dont come accross as a corporate sellout

Thai Food JunkieApril 24th 2008.

I love this little restaurant and have eaten there on many occasions. I would highly recommend the drunks cure. I like the chicken noodle version - absolutely tremendous!

DarrenApril 24th 2008.

This is/was a bit of a secret restaurant. Not many people consider it, but it is exceptional. The crispy scallop starter is amazingly good. Always have a good time there and the staff are very friendly.

JonApril 24th 2008.

Eh....it's directly opposite the Art Gallery, the Athenaeum side albeit, not the Mosley Street side.

AnonymousApril 24th 2008.

Food was tasteless, service was below par and the Manager is extremely arrogant after blaming us that the hair found in the Red Thai curry did not belong to his staff and he made out he was doing us a favour by replacing it, consequently we walked out only after paying for the starters as the manager locked the door. DO NOT GO THERE!

Tom Yam LoverApril 24th 2008.

Been to Koh Samui a few times and it is never disapointing!! There could never be too many thai restaurants!! I have tried Try Thai in china town a couple of times and its definitely a winner, if you like thai soups get yourself there!!

Laura SharrockApril 24th 2008.

we went last night as we have been meaning to try it for ages given the excellent reviews and proximity to our flat. looks great, menu was mouthwateing, food disappointing. the stuffed chicken wings were bland, the spicy thai sausage looked manufactured and microwaved. the beef noodles with dark soy and kale was ok but the drunk's cure, which promised to be 'extremely spicy' was anything but. i had it with crispy belly pork which resembled a fat wedge of bacon which had been left to unctuate beneath the hot lamp in one of manchester's less salubrious greasy spoons.all in all overrated and over priced.

Tim HowellApril 24th 2008.

Dear Very Offended, Check out Khalids Kebabish on hilton street if you Pakistani & proud.. you will love it. Tell him tim sent you. But you should definitely check out the veggie stuff at KOSO for sure if you are a muslim fella, my mates from Lahore ****ing loved it..it's amazing.....Unlike the mockduck at the Thai'isarn in didsboiLike 2 week old brown bread....x0

chippyApril 24th 2008.

looking for a bite before bjork at the apollo last week, tried aeat is east - chocker so marched up princess street and happened upon it, used to love chiang rai too. had the belly pork with chilli. ace. staff brilliant. loved it will go back

RANGERSApril 24th 2008.

I love Whalley Rangers me.

eh?April 24th 2008.

It's not really opposite Manchester Art Gallery though is it.

NorthernGeezerApril 24th 2008.

I've found the currys to be outstanding, though the other stuff is just average. Had the spicy beef salad as a starter and it was packet salad form a supermarket, and an english salad at that.

annoyedApril 24th 2008.

Do you only review resturants owned by your friends, is this a form of free advertising for them. please resign and let somebody truly impartial write honest reviews

paulmApril 24th 2008.

Yet another negative review posted under the veil of anonynimity... I like Koh Samui, it's good, and have never found a hair in my dinner - perhaps it was from one of you and not the staff after all? That said, "the customer is always right", I'm surprised you got the response you did :o(

very offendedApril 24th 2008.

in be the interest of impartiality maybe some-one who does not know the owner or has an afiliation to a place should not review the resturant. I am pakistani and proud. How dare Gordo say Wilmslow Road be burnt down he said that when he visited a city center resturant which belongs to friends of his

EmilyApril 24th 2008.

I had never been before but this review made me so hungry that I went for lunch as soon as I read it. I had the Baked mixed seafood with vermicelli and it was wonderful. I will definately be back. Maybe even today!!

also whalleyApril 24th 2008.

how about the even more famous Whalley Rangers eating there?

JillApril 24th 2008.

This was a well kept secret - now you've done it - this is my favorite thai restaurant and their business lunch (2 courses for £7) is an absolute winner.

GordoApril 24th 2008.

Thanks for that yawning,i didn't understand annoyed's comments at first.

LianeApril 24th 2008.

I completely agree, with regard to Pacific. My recent experience of it has been very poor - yet it somehow retains its good reputation among most people. I don't know how!I'll definitely be giving this one a try, instead...

AnonymousApril 24th 2008.

I was in there 2 months ago and a cockroach walked across my table!! Alas I had just paid the bill and when I pointed the six legged thing to the manager, guess what he did? Nothing!I will not be going back.

KnowitallJuly 15th 2011.

h

AnonymousJuly 15th 2011.

I love my thai food! And it's a shame that this place is getting worse...wnet ladt month and think it will be my last ever stop here =(
I suggest people go Try Thai- top quality service with tasty food. Or Vermillion if outside of city centre. However Try Thai is less dear.
Try Thai also makes some wicked asian drinks in their downstairs bar- went last night and it was gorge!

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