Thai food has become one of my new faves in recent months, so when Busaba recently opened in Manchester's Printworks, it went straight on 'the list'. We've had a bit of a flurry of exciting new restaurants over the past few months, so I only got round to sampling Busaba a few weeks ago.
First thing's first, I shall address the elephant in the room for anyone over the age of 25 who knows Manchester. Yes, it's in the Printworks, but no, it is not chavtastic in any way. You don't even need to enter the building to get into Busaba. It's right on the edge and is accessible from Withy Grove. There, all sorted. I shall continue.
So then, it was chuffing freezing with that fuzzy rain that soaks your face, and the kind of wind which makes you question why you left the house. We were blown through the door of Busaba by one particularly ferocious gust, and it was all okay again. It was warm and the smell of delicate incense sticks perfumed the restaurant. I knew everything was going to be just fine.
The menu is pretty big, and we did find ourselves a little overwhelmed by the many pages we had to leaf through. Our first drinks arrived promptly, which somehow made the decisions a little easier to make. Cocktails were flowing nicely, and Phil was mightily impressed that Busaba have their own saison beer brewed by Hop Kettle. We were so keen to drink them that I forgot to take pictures... ~sends self to corner~
Salt and pepper cod - lightly battered cod fillet, chilli and Sriracha sauce: That's right, I'm kicking off with fish... the life long fish hater has gone rogue! Although I didn't order this, I knew I was snaffling some after a show of recent fish bravery at Ning. You know what? Delicious. Really delicate with a gentle heat from the cracked black pepper. Fish fan.
Thai tacos - spiced minced chicken in soft corn tortillas, cucumber relish: You will instantly notice the omission of cucumber relish. That's because cucumber is vile, and the lovely folk at Busaba were more than happy to remove it from the theatre of conflict. These have to be the standout dish for me. The chicken is sweet with a subtle bite to it. I made a mess, but it was ok.
Thai calamari - ginger and green peppercorn: Sweet Jesus, this is gorgeous! It tastes a bit like sweet popcorn. Don't be put off if you generally don't like the texture of calamari, as this is nothing like rubber!
Songkhla red curry - slow-cooked beef, cherry tomato, banana pepper: The beef in this curry fell apart when pressed, and was delicately fragranced with warming spices. Char-grilled salmon fillet with baby spinach, cucumber salad and coconut rice: The only complaint about this dish was that it was served skin on, which I know a lot of people struggle with. Reports were that once the offending article had been removed (and hidden), this was a lovely fresh dish.
Aromatic chicken curry - potato, cucumber relish and jasmine rice: This was my choice. I love that sticky jasmine rice so very much... Sauce to rice ratio was bang on, and utterly delicious. I'd have this again without hesitation.
Som Tam - green papaya, dried shrimp, peanut, cherry tomato, lime: Warning... this little mama is a hot one! Not immediately, but a little while later. There she blows! It was touch and go for Tasha for a while. Banana mousse topped with salted caramel and banana chips: Light as a feather and not too sweet. Chocolate fondant served warm with coconut ice cream and chilli chocolate sauce: The original order was ice cream, but this appeared instead because the freezer was acting up (note the presence of ice cream... I know). However, this was a happy little accident, as it turns out the chocolate fondant was rather lovely. Coconut rice pudding topped with palm sugar caramel: Winner! This was my dessert, but like an utter lightweight, I managed about two spoonfuls. It was gorgeous, but I'd already been crowned Pig of the Week. The other two didn't even manage to finish it between them after abandoning their own desserts in favour of this!