Sunday, 16 September 2012



Upon stepping into the UnI (pronounced you and I), you are overwhelmed with a proper old-school Indian experience. Twangy sitar music (bizarrely interspersed with Rihanna and Enrique Iglesias), chintz carpet and heady smells. Now Asha, formerly Liverpool's oldest Indian has gone bust, UnI now holds the title of the city's oldest and most authentic Indian eaterie. This piece of local history isn't it's USP however. The reason that most diners flock to this gem isn't its location- it's surrounded by condemned buildings and empty shops in an area which was the Scousers' answer to the Curry Mile in the 1990s, but has now suffered under the double threat of the recession and the city's 2008 redevelopment. It's not its website or advertising either (trawl the net and you'll only find review sites such as this one and TripAdvisor coming up with info of this place). Its USP is, bizarrely, its famous booths. Wow. THE BOOTHS. What a unique experience. These aren't the usual booths from an old school curry house. These are curtained and complete with dimmer switch to add an intimate feel to the place. There is even a bell to press to order your meal. Both foodies and drunk clubbers alike are united in their love of The Booth, providing many a picture opportunity on nights out. The Booths are the place where gossip is shared and secrets are divulged, the diners being lulled into a false sense of security that the booths are soundproofed...

UnI has become wise to the fact that The Booths are a hit and have namedropped them on their napkins and new signage. 'The Cubicle Restaurant' is now its unofficial name according to the napkins. Still prefer calling them The Booths though.

I have been here numerous times, so I will try and sum up all of my meals in one review.

My perfect starter is Raita and a Vegetable Pakora. The pakoras here are plentiful and the veg fresh. One starter is good enough for two people. After much deliberation, I always choose a vegetarian vindaloo and am never disappointed. For the meat eaters, I spied a Malayan Chicken which looked like a nice, exotic alternative. If Biryani is your thing, I am pleased to confirm it DOES come with a fab fluffy omelette, a vital component that lots of curry houses are cutting corners on these days. If you squint, you may be able to see the Biryani in the above pic. As I am so engrossed in the atmosphere of this place whenever I go, I always forget to snap the food. I found this trimmed-down pic in my Facebook archives though- better than nothing!

I remember Christmas 2008 fondly as the period I ate two UnIs in a week. As it was the season to stuff your face and not feel guilty, I ordered copious amounts of pistachio kulfi for dessert and a mango lassi.Refreshing and sweet, it took me away from the stuffy festivities of Xmas and brought me to an exotic paradise!


After a year's absence from the UnI, I was overwhelmed with a craving that not even the Curry Mile could satisfy. I was staying the night in Liverpool and needed to visit my old favourite. I can happily confirm it's still on top form, the vindaloo still potent, the booths chintzy and the naan breads as big as your head. In addition to my usuals, I made room for dessert- a decadent Kulfi of Mango and Coconut, enough to feed two hungry curryholics.

Uni on Urbanspoon

Monday, 3 September 2012

Royal Siam, Chorley Rd, Swinton, Salford

Salfordian foodies seem to have a rough deal. People from outside of the area don't tend to flock to this enclave of Manchester as it's not exactly known for its haute cuisine. If you're not a seasoned Salford foodie, you probably think the most exotic dish on offer is the frozen curry in Morrison's cafe. However, scratch beneath the surface of chain restaurants at the Quays, delve deeper than the chippies of Eccles and eschew the sandwich bars of Monton and pay a visit to Swinton, Salford's haven of cheap eats and exotic treats. After much Googling, I decided to try the Royal Siam who offers a Thai business lunch for £7.50 for 2 courses. How will it match up to city centre offerings like Try Thai?

Royal Siam is cosy, clean and jampacked with exciting Thai artwork on the wall, providing diners with some great talking points while chowing down. I was pleased to note they had actually bothered to play Thai music rather than atmosphere-sapping Rihanna in pan pipes. The owner greeted us warmly and explained that any starter and main could be chosen from the main menu for the business lunch. Drinks were a snip too, with all soft drinks £1 and a pot of Jasmine Tea also £1. It seemed better than Try Thai already!

To start, the Carnivore ordered Chicken Satay and I ordered veggie spring rolls. Check out the amazing presentation:

They were delicious as they looked- not too greasy and the salad beautiful and fresh.
Here is the tofu and vegetable red curry that I ordered for my main. The portion was huge, although it was a cheap business lunch. More generous than Try Thai, the rice even came in a heart-shaped serving!

The two course bountiful Thai extravaganza left me too full for dessert, so I digested the meal with a pot of Jasmine Tea. I'd also like to give the toilets a special mention at this point- they were the most immaculate I've ever seen in a Thai restaurant. They even left real cloths for the diners to wipe their hands on, a fabulous touch.
The staff were extremely welcoming and despite being the only diners in there, we never felt rushed, they simply allowed us to relax and enjoy the meal. We easily whiled away two hours here and were rather surprised to open the door and find ourselves back in Salford, the Thai experience was simply that convincing.