When I became a vegetarian, I was constantly questioned by peers who were ‘curious’ to know what I would eat. In their ‘medieval vision’ they envisioned a ‘rabbit food’ diet and was perplexed that I would ‘even give up meat’ for a ‘lifetime of carrots’ as they would put it. But here’s the thing, being a vegetarian shouldn’t make your dining choices limited. I mean sure being dragged to a Steakhouse is not my idea of fun and don’t even get me started on ‘chain restaurants’ vegetarian options. And by options I mean cheese on crackers, not cool. Which is why I happen to be so obsessed with Thai and Indian cuisine; their menus are full of flavour, have tonnes of vegetarian options and are usually reasonably priced. Take that meat! But who would be the restaurant to step forward and sate my hunger, with a flourish of their welcoming hand?
I had been dying to try out Mango Tree’s vegetarian menu and along with their impressive cocktail creations, I was guaranteed a night out that I so desperately craved. I was ready to hit the town and boy was I starving. I won’t say this lightly but I feel like Mango Tree might have been concerned with the amount of food I was squirreling away but hey I was hungry and so was my companion A. From vegetable spring rolls that toyed with my tongue to moist coffee cheesecake that might have given me a foodgasm or two, Mango Tree was more innovative and creative than other Thai restaurants I had been to. It’s exploration of Thai culture immersed with their own unique twist proved that Mango Tree was a restaurant force to be reckoned with. While I was interested in how their ‘Thai menu’ would compare to my favourite Chaopraya Eat Thai, I was also taking note of their customer service too. All too often delicious food had been let down by poor customer service, so I was paying extra attention to how the staff would treat us throughout our meal.
But I needn’t have worried, throughout the meal they ensured that we were constantly fed and watered and even provided me with paper and pen when I realized I had left my notebook at home. From providing us with free welcome snacks of roasted peanuts for me and prawn crackers for A, to being quick and efficient with providing their hungry guests with food, they made our night one to remember. At one point I think they were worried that we would never leave as we were there for nearly 5 hours-yep you heard me right- and I almost felt sorry for them as we left looking like we needed to roll down a hill we had eaten so much food. Our bellies were full and our hunger was sated but what exactly did we think of our overall experience?
Apertifs and Drinks Round 1
We were ushered to our seats at a small square table and being only 6.45 PM, the restaurant was for the most part quiet and tranquil, save for the buses driving past the glazed windows. As we chowed down on our pre-starter snacks, that are provided to each table free of charge, we poured over the large alcoholic drinks menu which had everything from dessert wine to uniquely named cocktails like ‘Green Dragon’. To begin with, my companion decided to go with the Mango Colada (£13.50) served on a marble slate, while I chose the Green Dragon £11.50. However since we had been discussing the lychee mojito, the waiter accidentally brought out the mojito. When the waiter realized his mistake he gave me both the mojito and the green dragon, so I got one drink free. But to be perfectly honest I am quite glad he brought me out my trusty mojito -which happens to be my favourite cocktail- as the Green Dragon was quite sharp and bitter and tasted strongly of vodka. While it was laced with midori melon liqueur , I felt that the melon underwhelmed and its sweetness did not cut through the strong vodka.
A’s mango colada on the other hand was beautifully presented;Zacapa rum, dash amaretto, fresh pineapple, banana, fresh mango juice, pineapple juice, coconut cream, double cream, were served in a fresh pineapple bow, while the marble slate was adorned with a compote glaze of fresh blueberries and ligonberries, to complete the showstopping entry. Being a colada it was naturally very sweet and while my companion prefers drinks that are a little more strong in alcohol content, she nevertheless enjoyed it’s creamy and vibrant taste in her mouth. But I much preferred my lychee mojito (£11.50), which although is only on the menu as a ‘virgin mojito’, the great thing about Mango Tree, is that it tailors any drink or dish to your taste, to create a personalized touch. The cocktail struck a perfect balance between ‘sweet’ and ‘refreshing’, creating a crisp, well bodied cocktail that was clearly made from fresh lychee fruits.
Drinks Round 1 Rating
After a struggle to not order every vegetarian starter on the menu, I decided to order the Por Pia Pak (vegetable spring rolls) £7.50 and the Tow Hoo Tod (Deep Fried Tofu) £7.50, while A. also chose spring rolls. Four crispy mixed vegetable spring rolls were sprawled across a small plate with a sweet chilli sauce pot begging to be dipped, while the crispy tofu, was deep fried and served with a spicy peanut sauce. The spring rolls were not oily I was thankful to find and neither was the tofu, which was impressive considering it had been deep fried. And boy was the tofu cooked to perfection; I very strongly dislike ‘rubbery tofu’ , but the deep fried tofu was crispy and golden, while the spicy peanut sauce complimented its texture perfectly. While the tofu was delicious, I found that the spring rolls ‘sweet chilli sauce’ was better at accentuating the crispiness of the tofu than the spicy peanut sauce, although both sauces tickled my tastebuds. A’s experience with her own spring rolls was very much similar and she too stated that the rolls were certainly not lacking in flavour.
Spring Rolls- 8.5/10
Main Course (s) and Drinks Round 2
By this point we had polished off our drinks, (with the exception of the Green Dragon) and was thirsty for some more. I was intrigued by the Blooming Hibiscus (£11.50) while A went for the Raspberry Dream £11.50. The Blooming Hibiscus was served in a champagne flute and made with Jin Zu gin, hibiscus flower, hibiscus syrup, lychee juice and fresh lime juice, while the Raspberry Dream was made with Ciroc vodka, chambord, fresh strawberry, raspberry puree, fresh lime juice, pineapple juice and fresh mango juice. The Blooming hibiscus was delightfully fizzy, with fragrant bubbles that practically popped in your mouth, although I would have liked a more overt hisbiscus taste but it was nevertheless a delicious tipple. A’s Raspberry Dream on the other hand was well textured and the sharpness of the raspberries blended with the sweet fruit puree marvelously.
To compliment our drinks, after some deep soul searching I chose two main courses ‘Pad Thai Jay (£14.75) and Gaeng Kiew Wan Pak (£13.95) while A. chose Pla Plow (£19.95) and Gaeng Phed Ped Yang Pon Lai Mai (£19.95). The Gaeng Kiew Wan Pak ( Thai Green Vegetable curry) was brought out first served with tailored vegetable preferences including bean curd, carrots, sweetcorn, boiled tofu, broccoli and mangetout serve with a generous helping of Kow Pad Thai (Egg Fried Rice £4.00). The creaminess of the ‘green Thai Sauce’ had a wonderful hint of coconut, while the tailored vegetables had been marinated and coated in the sauce, to create a delicious vegetarian main course. My only issue was the ‘boiled tofu’ which was quite rubbery, giving me the conclusion that I only like deep fried tofu and thus removed all presence of tofu from my Thai Green curry. The sauce however was wonderful and they had even made it extra hot, because I told them how much I loved spicy food. The portions were generous too and the stir fried Thai rice with egg added some texture to the curry dish.
In contrast I found the Pad Thai Jay (thai rice noodles stir-fried with bean curd, chinese chives, peanuts and beans sprouts in a special homemade sauce) to be quite dry and while a nice enough dish, the ‘special sauce’ did not coat the noodles adequately enough to my taste. A had similar thoughts about her Pla Plow; baked fillet of sea bass with lemongrass, ginger, black pepper and butter wrapped with banana leaf served with spicy homemade seafood sauce, A found that the presentation was a little ‘off’ and that the fish, while beautifully cooked, did not have enough ‘flavour’ although to be fair she asked for a mild sauce, as she does not like spice, which might explain the absence of taste. She did however praise the Gaeng Phed Ped Yang Pon Lai Mai which was a red curry with roasted duck, grapes, pineapple and cherry tomatoes, served in a pineapple bowl. The presentation was beautiful in contrast to the sea bass and she said the unexpected accompaniment of the ‘pineapple’ led a much needed sweetness to the tart duck, which was well cooked.
Main Course Ratings
Thai Green Curry – 7.5/10
Pad Thai Jay- 6.5/10
Sea Bass- 6/10
Duck Curry- 8.5/10
Blooming Hibiscus- 7.5/10
Raspberry Dream- 9/10
Desserts and Wine
I was stuffed to the brim as was A, but being the greedy little piggies that we were, we couldn’t finish our meal without the most important course-dessert. We chose to share our deserts and got the following: Three Chocolate Cake (£8.95), Coffee Cake (£8.95), Chocolate Sphere with Salted Caramel (£8.95) and Mango, Pineapple & Sweet Basil Sorbet (£6.50). I was also tempted to try the Ponlamai Ruam Mit (a seasonal exotic fruit platter served with mango sauce and chilli-lemongrass sorbet) but I feared I might be thrown out if I tried and ordered more food LOL. To compliment our vast array of desserts we ordered a glass of Saint Laurand Collection Privee Rose 2015(£7.85), which boasted wild raspberry and crushed rose petal aromas with a delicious peachy and a light fresh finish, alongside a glass of Pouilly Fuisse Vieilless Vignes 2015 (£11.25). The rose had plenty of punch, with the raspberries mixing superbly with the delicious sweet peaches, while the white wine was medium-gold in colour. The local soils favour harmonious development of the Chardonnay aromas with notes of hazelnut, toasted almond and mineral notes and worked well with the selection of desserts we had ordered.
I found the desserts to be for the most part splendid, with the Coffee Cake emerging as the clear winner but found the three chocolate cake to be too rich for my taste. The three chocolate cake featured a sponge base cake with milk, dark and white chocolate mousse with vanilla pandan ice cream, which while ‘rich’ did have a wonderful white chocolate mousse that was light and frothy to the taste. The highlight from the Three Chocolate Cake however was the pandan ice cream that cleansed our palettes and felt refreshing after all our gluttony. Next to try was the Coffee Cake; featuring a mocha base cake with mascarpone cheese and layer with mocha and white chocolate sauce with espresso ice cream, it gave me foodgasms everytime the cake entered my mouth. The actual cake was good, with strong but not rich flavours of mocha and mascarpone but it was the ice cream scoops that truly turned the desert into a showstopper. The ice cream was creamy and well textured and went well with our wines we had ordered.
As if our sweet tooth could not be sated enough, next to try was the Chocolate Sphere with a vanilla-pandan ice cream core served with warm salted caramel sauce. The sphere itself used dark chocolate which was not to my preference but the warm caramel sauce was sweet without being sickly and mixed well with the vanilla pandan ice cream. Visually speaking this was the most beautifully presented dish, but the actual flavours needed working on. For the most part the chocolate sphere was well constructed and it had a clear structured thought process behind the notes of hazelnut and caramel, but milk chocolate would have made the chocolate sphere less bitter, although that is my own preference as opposed to an actual fault with the dish. The Mango, Pineapple & Sweet Basil Sorbet was the perfect antidote to all the cakes we had consumed; it felt light and fresh on the tongue and more importantly was swallowed down with ease and not heavy on the stomach.
Three Chocolate Cake – 6/10
Chocolate Sphere- 7/10
Coffee Cake- 9.5/10
Mango Sorbet- 9.5/10
Overall we massively enjoyed our meal at Mango Tree and was pleasantly surprised by the restaurant’s ability to deal with ‘mass orders’ , its politeness and willingness to accommodate its visitors and how their workers always had a smile on their face. The highlight dishes for me was the deep fried tofu and coffee cake, while A. was enamored with the Roasted Red Duck Curry, which had been made in a mild less spicy sauce as well as the Raspberry dream which was a classic twist on a cocktail concoction.
Service Rating 9.5/10
Presentation Of Dishes 8/10
Price Accessibility 7.5/10 *
I found some dishes to be quite expensive but the portions are large and everything is made from scratch which makes it worth the higher price that you pay.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
Would I visit Again?
100 %. While I believe that the main courses at Chaopraya Eat Thai still serves my favourite version of a ‘Thai Green Curry’, overall Mango Tree has a better selection of drinks, better tasting desserts and a more extensive menu for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Plus I really want to try their Christmas menu, which even has a separate 10 plate menu for vegetarians alone!
What Are Your Thoughts On Thai Cuisine?
Please note me and A, received complimentary meals in exchange for content, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.