Manchester seems to be developing a new ‘Chinatown’, outside the City Centre on Oldham Road, near the massive ‘Wing Yip’ oriental cash & carry. In the past I’ve visited (and really must review) ‘Glamorous’ – which is actually above ‘Wing Yip’ – and ‘I am Pho’ in Manchester’s ‘proper’ Chinatown.
There’s also Vnam, a Vietnamese ‘pho’ restaurant just over the road from Wing Yip on Oldham Road; now there’s a new kid in town, ‘Saigon Lotus’ just a few doors down from Vnam.
First impressions are good, the decor is a cut above the usual ‘canteen’ furniture employed by Vietnamese restaurants, it’s light and well decorated, nice. The waitresses are pretty and polite, the menu brief and to the point.
I have read reviews elsewhere of ‘Saigon Lotus’ that sing the praises of their braised goat dishes, but as I was dining with a colleague who is vegetarian, I thought that might prove a dish too far.
For starters we had summer rolls, my colleague going for the vegetarian option (Goi cuon chay), while I went for pork and prawn (Goi cuon tom thit). Both were delicious, translucent rice-paper parcels, crammed with crispy vegetables and rice noodles, served with a delicate, sweet, fish dipping sauce. Not the cloying sweet chilli sauces served in many places. Another tick in another box.
For mains, my colleague had deep fried Tofu with Chilli and Lemon Grass (Dau phu ran xa ot), served with steamed rice and declared it to be delicious – as a Tofu cynic I suspect it tasted of Chilli and Lemon Grass.
I tried the Noodle Soup with Prawn and Fish-cake in the Hue style (Bun tom cha ca rau can). Again this was subtle, delicate, delicious, and while I haven’t spent long enough in Vietnam to verify this, I suspect it’s more authentic than the ‘in your face’ spicy Pho soups served elsewhere.
One final surprise, because the restaurant had been open for less than two weeks, they sliced a generous 20% off our bill. Two courses for two people, for less than twenty quid? Even at ‘full price’ it would have been good value.
Nice, very nice, another one for my ‘regular’ list.