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Phanthong, Altrincham, Reviewed

Deanna Thomas gets intravenously massaged by food and drink

Written by . Published on February 2nd 2014.


Phanthong, Altrincham, Reviewed
 

I’M not good when faced with choice.

Even a simple question like ‘tea or coffee?’ leaves me so torn I usually blurt out ‘toffee’ as a default answer. Do I fancy something sweet or hot, crunchy, creamy, sour or savoury?

Westerners wouldn’t have a chance at guessing the contents of a dish like Moo Ping without a translation (it is not beef cooked in a microwave, but grilled marinated pork skewers).

Thai food is perfect for the indecisive. Also, Thai people in my experience are friendly and welcoming - apart from when you’re trying to smuggle a few kilos of narcotics into their country, obviously.

I wasn’t going to call ahead and book at Phanthong in Altrincham but I’m glad I did as the restaurant was almost full when we arrived. Phanthong took over premises previously occupied by The Grapes pub on Regent road adjacent to the main car park which is free after 6pm.

Phantong Exterior

Phantong exterior

It’s been completely refurbished to create a light, airy restaurant divided into smaller dining areas each containing a few linen covered tables. On entering you are met by a magnificent gilded carving before being lulled into the restaurant by tinkly meditative Thai music.

Crackers and chilli sauce are served (at no extra charge) along with the presentation of the menus. Being given food whilst deciding what else to eat is something I appreciate. Thai starters read like rapid machine-gun fire and rarely stretch to two syllables. Westerners wouldn’t have a chance at guessing the contents of a dish like Moo Ping without a translation (it is not beef cooked in a microwave, but grilled marinated pork skewers).

Oriental Welcome

Oriental welcome

We decided that the best measure of a good Thai restaurant would be in its execution of a classic soup so we ordered Tom Yum Nam Khon (£6.45) - King Prawn hot and sour soup topped with a dash of coconut milk. The first spoonful affected my mother’s face with the kind of ecstatic expression no child should ever witness. She described a light but rich multilayered soup with citrusy top notes and fat prawns like floating baby fists.

Yum Yum Soup

Yum Yum Soup

I thought I’d get my taste buds going with Som Tam Gai Yang (£7.45) which was described as a ‘legendary spicy Thai papaya salad served with grilled chicken skewer’  - main picture top of the page. The chicken was moist and the flavour played witness to it having had a thorough marinating. The green papaya was tossed with other shredded vegetables, cherry tomatoes and a well flavoured Oriental dressing. To add even more of a crunch it was topped with peanuts which, anaphylactic shock inducing properties aside; I am a huge fan of. They’d pitched the chilli perfectly as I could feel my heartbeat pulsing through my tingling lips only when they cleared the plates away.

I swore I wouldn’t order Pad Thai (£10.45) as it’s a bit of an entry level dish but did, because I love it and no matter how skilled you are or what recipe you follow, it’s impossible to replicate in a domestic kitchen. This one didn’t disappoint in size or content. To go with it I wanted something off the fish section which offers a wide choice if you only like sea bass, which comes steamed or fried two ways.

Pad Thai Til I Die

Pad Thai Til I Die

Pla Neung Khing (£15.95) steamed sea bass fillets with soy sauce, ginger and spring onion was beautifully presented on a huge white platter. Someone in the kitchen had whittled a swede into a chrysanthemum garnish. I wonder if these ornately carved vegetables get washed and re-used a few times by some restaurants after all that effort.

Although the sea bass wasn’t unpleasant it was a bit soggy. It was fresh enough and I had ordered it steamed, but perhaps most customers can’t be bothered faffing around with bones. They’d be better offering the whole sea bass steamed and the crispy sea bass as fillets.

Steamed Sea Bass

Steamed sea bass

Mum chose one of the stir-fried dishes, Gai Pad Met Mammuang (£9.95) chicken with cashew nut, mushroom and dried chilli. Again, each component was present in generous proportions – no complaints. When we got the bill at the end we were pleased to discover we’d benefitted from a decent midweek offer of 3 courses for £17.95 (with the seafood or fish option at £19.95).

Chicken Cashew Nuts

Chicken cashew nuts

Pudding options are as limited as you’d expect but they offer a good selection of palate cleansing Cheshire Farm Ice Cream.

Ma chose mango and passion fruit (£3.95) which perfectly balanced lip puckering fruit acidity and creamy luxury. I thought I’d try something more traditional like ‘banana in hot sweetened coconut milk topped with roasted sesame seeds’ (£3.50). I am confident I have now found solace for anyone suffering simultaneously from a hangover, a broken heart and the common cold. This bowl of unctuous comfort might not be much to look at but was like being given a soothing Thai massage intravenously.

Mango %26#38%3B Passonfruit Ice Cream

Mango passionfruit ice cream

We couldn’t leave without trying one of Phanthong’s speciality Flora teas which are not only beautiful to look at but make all kinds of curative promises. Aromatic Mayflower with green tea, lily and sweet-scented osmanthus (£2.35) came as a simple bud in a wine glass which danced and swirled around in hot water until unfurling its colours like a stripper in reverse.

So all in all, a lip smacking, wallet friendly, free parking, trouser bursting experience that soothed the soul and cured ailments I never knew I had.

Rating: 14.5/20 

You can follow Deanna Thomas on Twitter @DeannaThomas 

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE.  

Phanthong, 15 Regent Road, Altrincham, WA14 1RY 0161 928 5808

 Rating: 14.5/20 

Food: 7/10 (soup 8, papaya salad 7, pad thai 8, chicken stir fry 7, sea bass 6, desserts 7, tea 8)
Ambience 3.5/5
Service 4/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

Flora TeaFlora tea

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Georgina Hague shared this on Facebook on February 3rd 2014.
Steve5839February 4th 2014.

Eaten here a couple of times, always good. Go and enjoy the service and food.

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2014.

hey they serve flora tea just like try thai in chinatown. try thai is fucking terrific!!! i love thai food!

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Mod God

Absolute nonsense again from Anonymous who I guess has never been out of Salford - no chilli,…

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Mod God

Correct, someone who understands!

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Clearly a fake review, anonymous here and no other posts on TripAdvisor - jealous rival I guess…

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