Rice is a Manchester based mini-chain serving a wide variety of rice and rice noodle based dishes. I thought it might be worth a try for an early dinner as I fancied something vaguely oriental.
The Piccadilly Gardens branch is canteen style; you order at one end of the counter and collect your food dished up in takeaway containers at the other. The menu is a bit of a mish-mash covering pretty much every corner of the globe (Argentina, Russia, Spain amongst others), the only apparent connection being the presence of rice (or at least rice noodles).
On ordering a pad thai I was informed that there was a special offer on today, a free starter with every main meal ordered. A bit of a marketing ploy this, as what they actually meant was that filling in a scratchcard with your e-mail address and phone number would get you a free starter. I duly obliged anyway (real e-mail address, fake telno, I can't be doing with spam texts) as I'm not one to turn down free food without good reason. I chose prawn katsu from a choice of that or spring rolls.
The prawn katsu was more akin to a couple of frozen scampi fried some hours earlier, and was served up alongside some manky looking iceberg. Yum. Oh well it was free, what did I expect.
Unfortunately the pad thai wasn't a whole lot better. First the plus points; - a good generous portion and a nice smoky flavour (wok-hei I think this is called) to the noodles suggesting it had been stir-fried properly over a high heat. That's about it unfortunately so let's move onto the minus points; - the noodles were overcooked and had gone gluey, there was a solid mass of them about the size of my fist right in the middle of the pot. The chicken was dry and tasteless. The prawns didn't taste very fresh and were chewy. There were no beansprouts in it. No garnishes were available other than soy sauce, salt and pepper meaning the whole thing was pretty bland. I ate less than half of it before giving up out of boredom.
In summary it was poor, and not cheap either (£7 for the pad thai), but perhaps I chose unwisely and some of the other dishes are better. I'll maybe give them another try in future as they certainly seem popular (not that that's always a good sign, every branch of Wagamama is always rammed full and I think it's overpriced and boring). In the same area any one of the curry cafes up the road will feed you better for less money (£4-5), as will Baekdu for about the same amount of money. If chain places are your thing I reckon Tampopo is probably a better bet, and at least they stick to Asian food and don't try and shoehorn every cuisine of the world onto the menu.