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