Manchester M19 1FN
Mains from £7-9
A Thai restaurant in Burnage is not the most promising of propositions. I was hoping it might subvert expectations, perhaps cater to Burnage's previously unknown Thai population, cook up authentic and exciting food in a grim south Manchester suburb. My hopes were wildly off the mark (of course), but Lana Thai isn't too bad, although it does tend towards the unimaginative and is pettily priced, charging £2 per meagre serving of plain white rice and (and this is the most egregious error) serving up instant noodles.
What?! I hear you scoff. Instant noodles!? In a restaurant!? A restaurant that charges you £2 for the privilege of eating some re-hydrated ramen!? A Thai restaurant!? Thai food being famous for its use of rice noodles!?
The answer to all of those exclamatory questions is unfortunately an emphatic YES. After this revelation, the meal could have been the best example of Thai food this side of Chiang Mai and I would still be seething over Lana Thai's temerity.
The rest of the meal, while not the best example of Thai food this side of Chiang Mai, was better than the use of insta-noodles would suggest. All of the dishes were punched-up with stalks of lemongrass, plenty of spices, and layers of flavours. I ordered a beef red curry with coconut milk and peanut sauce, and I could taste each of these components. However, my dish lacked any ingredients outside of its purview, with no extra vegetables slipped in. My mum's green curry was lemongrassy and contained a lot of Five-Spice, while my dad's dish trod a different path having a clearer and more liquid-y sauce that, although sweetly spicy, was not as interesting as the curry dishes. The amount of sauce that came with each dish necessitated at least one order of rice per person, automatically bumping any pretence at reasonable pricing (almost all dishes are between £6.75 and £8) onto the pricier side.
Other irritants included charging £1.80 per small bottle of water with no option of tap water (I know this makes me seem stingy, but when you're eating spicy food it's nice to have a steady supply of free water on hand), the menus being irregularly priced (some menus had lower prices than others) the waitress being unable to speak English (making it tricky to ask about dishes), and slow service. On the tap water issue, it seems to me that East Asian and South-East Asian restaurants almost always charge for water while South Asian restaurants do not. I don't know why this is, but considering the amounts of MSG put in Chinese food (and in Lana Thai's dishes if my unquenchable thirst later that evening was anything to go by), a large portion of the bill can end up being spent on bottled water.
Eating at Lana Thai feels like booking an Easyjet flight for a tenner, only to be forced to add another couple of quid with every subsequent click, resulting in a flight for forty quid by the end.