Monday, January 29, 2007

Asian Invasion, Part 1: Ning

Coming to Manchester from NYC a few years back, I really missed the huge selection of ethnic restaurants - I was especially homesick for Asian food besides the ubiquitous Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi and straight-ahead Chinese on offer. But lo and behold, Manchester has suddenly gotten a mini-influx of new restaurants serving up other Asian cuisines. And I've been checking them out at lunchtime. Here's a triptych of
sorta-reviews for your consideration:

Part One: Ning

Ning is located at the top of Oldham Street, well past the invisible line where the dodgy discount stores and down-and-out pubs start to outnumber the hair salons and record shops. This isn't exactly a buzzing bit of manc right now, but I'm sure the owners are hoping that the promised transformation of Ancoats into a yuppie breeding ground will bring the punters their way. Could be a smart move, if they can stick it out.

Ning is billed as a "cantine/cafe/restaurant" which seems a little precious - I mean, couldn't ya pick one? It's a small place decorated in a restrained, design-y manner with lots of bare surfaces and big plate glass windows, which some drunken scally will soon careen into and shatter.

The flavour of cooking here is pan asian, heavy on the curries, rice and noodles. While there isn't a ton of choice, the lunch mains are all under £6.50. I had the grilled tiger prawn satay (£5). The satay sauce was nutty and not too sweet; the (too few) prawns were crispy and toothsome, and the rice and raw vegetables alongside just about made this enough for a light lunch.

Across the table, my luncheon companion The Mancubist seemed quite happy with his £5 Ning Curry Lunch (they have a changing selection of curries every week; you pick beef, chicken, veggie or prawn).

Based on that experience, I'd say it's a decent place for lunch if you're in the hood. The food didn't completely knock me out, and I was hoping for more street food and more Vietnamese stuff on the menu ... most of the dishes are Malaysian, which means curry and more curry. But it's a nice addition to Oldham Street.

Ning Cantine Cafe Restaurant
92-94 Oldham St
Manchester, M4 1LJ
0161 238 9088


Anonymous said...

there is a place opened in Chorlton, Yakisoba, i don't tend to eat a lot of Asian food being a veggie but the range of food for veggies was great - i'd recommend it.

I don't know much about asian food but i *think* its predominantly Japanese but also has other Asian like Vietnamese and Thai.

A google around seems to suggest that everyone likes it except the MEN:

Kate Feld said...

Thanks Toast! I'm headed to Chorlton for something on Thursday so will try to check it out. And I won't let the MEN scare me off...

vicktoire said...

i'm a fellow new yorker, and i was rather disappointed with ning. i went in really excited to have pho (which they call vietnamese noodle soup, fair enough), but before ordering it i asked the server if she thought it was good. turns out the server is vietnamese and she told me not to get it, so i ordered the pad thai, which she said was "really lovely." but when it arrived, there wasn't a peanut sauce so much as just ground peanuts. there were lots of fresh vegetables, which was great, but it was very bland.

have you been to siam orchid on portland street? *very* good pad thai, although i find the service to be hit or miss.

and if you find a good pho place, please share!

Kate Feld said...

Vicktoire, as soon as I heard about Ning, all I wanted to know was whether they had pho bo or banh mi, so I totally understand your pho bo jones. Haven't heard of anywhere serving it up around these parts. We SO need a good vietnamese restaurant!