Friday, 25 July 2008


A birthday treat was required for Young Neil, one that would impress but could be done affordably given there were more treats to come later in the month … Ning it is. Great name. Great location too at the rickety Frog & Bucket end of Oldham Street. I love this bit of the street, much more than the other crowded end with boring old shops and things. There’s nothing here but the Big Issue office, the City Inn spilling onto the street, and broken up building fronts. No doubt gentrification will fill in the space soon enough, particularly in the wake of this excellent restaurant.

Lured by the two courses for a tenner deal, this place was such a good find. Starter, main course and sundry all included in the cover charge, three quid for a beer, nothing spared on the quality or quantity. Great veggie options for me and fleshatarian stuff for Neil. Not every dish comes under the deal but what they do offer is veggie versions of almost any dish where it’s feasible to do so. I liked them already.

Neil had Peppercorn Calamari to start, which bowled him over. I had the Gado Gado, one of those gorgeous Indonesian salads stuffed with bean sprouts, peppers and fresh, crunchy vegetables, warmed through in temperature and also in spiciness with touches of red chilli. The whole thing was smothered in a gorgeous sweet satay dressing. It was a generous helping to boot, one that could easily do for a work lunch.

Main course menu is split into Malay and Thai and the variety is just enough to make you agonise pleasantly over your choice. I plumped for the Nyonya Lime Curry which was rich and sour and filling and sweet and everything I like in South East Asian cuisine in another generous dish. Neil had the Masak Merah, a simple flavoursome chicken dish that he raved about. Even the plain sticky rice smelled amazing. Great quality all round.

We didn’t have desserts but some sexy coconut ice-cream affair was on offer the night we were there. Confession time: I felt a heel for not tipping, our waiter was lovely too, and I’m normally born-again about that kind of thing, but the purse strings were quite literally throttling me. I will be back though for a full price feast with friends to make up for it. Plus they now do takeaway for city folk. The menu is on my table just waiting …

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