A Manchester food hall is serving up a new ice cream flavour that it claims is the stinkiest in the world.
For those unfamiliar with durian, it’s essentially the marmite of the fruit world. Famous for having a truly terrible smell that’s been unfavourably compared to cat p*ss, it’s so pungent that it’s actually been made illegal to eat it on the subway in Singapore.
No such restrictions apply here in Manchester, though, where Hello Oriental, the new(ish) three-storey Asian street food hall on Oxford Road, is causing something of a stir with its stinky but delicious new addition to its soft serve menu.
Served in cute little bear and taiyaki fish-shaped cones, typical flavours on offer through the week here include ube (purple yam), pandan leaf, charcoal, mango and vanilla.
But now, alongside those brightly-coloured, exotic soft serve flavours you’ll also find something a little bit more controversial. Durian soft serve.
Whilst no one seems to disagree on the terrible stench, when it comes to how the fruit actually tastes there are a mixture of comparisons.
Managing to be sweet, creamy and savoury all at once, some say it tastes like “diced garlic and caramel poured into whipped cream”.
Others have referred to “subtle hints of chives mixed with powdered sugar”.
Described by Hello Oriental as “one of the most addictive flavours to ever cross your tastebuds”, it’s safe to say that South Asia’s durian fruit ‘isn’t for everyone’ but, if you can get past its uniquely ferocious pong, you are in for a deliciously wild ride.
Available from Hello Oriental on weekends only, the durian batch of soft serve is specially prepared by the team fresh on Saturday and Sunday mornings and available to enjoy from 1pm.
Located just off Oxford Road, around the corner from Hatch, Hello Oriental offers uncensored East Asian street food across three storeys.
Comprising a restaurant, bar, cafe, events space and fully stocked supermarket, it recently received a rave review in the Times, with Marina O’Loughlin calling it a “northern powerhouse of Asian street food”.
Featured image – The Manc Eats
Siam Smiles, the authentic Thai cafe on a Manchester backstreet
When Siam Smiles was still a little cafe in a Chinatown supermarket it received serious rave reviews. Since moving up to Deansgate Mews, however, it seems to have been forgotten about a little.
Most famously described as “the most exciting thing to happen since the days of the Hacienda” by Marina O’Loughlin in a 2014 review for The Guardian, owner May also made headlines for teaching herself to cook on Youtube after her chef left the business one month after opening.
National critics, like O’Loughin and others, were seemingly drawn in by the cafe’s novelty – not one review missed the opportunity to mention the supermarket, or tell you how the ingredients in the dishes were often the same as the ones on the shelves.
But since it has moved over to The Mews, an oft-forgotten back street within the Great Northern Warehouse complex, the reviews have gone suspiciously quiet – so we thought we’d pop in to see if it’s all still up to scratch.
Spoiler alert, it definitely is.
Two years after that rave review from O’Loughlin, rising bills forced the cafe to close – but with a little help, May reopened in 2016 at the Great Northern Warehouse. It’s here that you’ll still find her cooking up a storm today.
With bills firmly on the rise once again, we thought we’d pop in to shine a light on this longstanding Mancunian gem and are happy to report her food hasn’t faltered one iota.
We went for stir fried chicken Pad Ka Paow with jasmine rice and a fried egg, and a steaming bowl of KuiiTiwe Moo Nam Tok with fresh egg noodles and roasted duck breast, with two glasses of Singha on the side.
We also couldn’t help but opt for a hearty portion of green papaya salad with dried shrimps, a dish that’s hard to find but something of a speciality here, as well as a second glass noodle salad with plump prawns and minced pork.
The dressings, always made by May herself, completely hit the spot with their balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet.
We strongly recommend you pop in and show Siam Smiles some love. It’s not all just about the shiny new restaurants, after all. We need to treasure the veterans too – and this is one we need to protect at all costs.
Find the cafe on Deansgate Mews Unit G Upper Level ,Great Northern, 253, Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EN.
Feature image – The Manc Eats
There’s a huge burger food fair happening in Manchester next weekend
Burger lovers in Manchester should probably get themselves down to the city’s largest street food hub next weekend for a feast like no other.
That’s because GRUB is hosting its very-own burger food fair.
Perhaps it’s not the first city you’d think of when it comes to burgers, but Manchester is absolutely chocked full of an endless list of eateries and food traders serving up some of the most impressive patties you’ll quite possibly ever see in your life.
Whether you’re a meat lover, chicken fanatic, veggie or vegan/plant-based, there truly is something for everyone to tuck into in our city.
And a handful of those finest food traders are coming together all under one roof for the GRUB Burger Food Fair – which is taking over Manchester’s biggest street food venue and events space next weekend from Friday 30 September – Sunday 2 October, and is promising to bring “wall to wall burgers” to the hungry masses.
The Cheetham Hill-based venues’s annual celebration of all things burgers returns for 2022, with traders bringing a special menu inspired by their own take on the humble burger, as well as a whole range of different sides, snacks, and all-American desserts to go along with it.
BON Street Food, Spicy Baby, Thief Street Grill & Waffle, Charlie Mac’s, and The Cookie Smith are some of the traders you can expect on Friday and Saturday.
And then, as is the tradition at GRUB, everything that is served up on the Sunday of the three-day event will be completely “plant-powered”.
Vegan vendors Boneless Brigade, and Dohlightful just some of the names lined-up to take part.
GRUB Burger Food Fair is free to attend, and will kick-off from 4pm each day of the three-day event, with no need to book any tickets in advance.
It has to be said though, that GRUB’s themed food fairs are always very well attended, so for that reason, the venue recommends that any large groups planning on heading down next weekend should book a table here.