The Mango Tree Café is a misnomer. I saw no evidence
of a mango tree, and it is definitely not café food. What I did find was
a cosy restaurant at the Thapae Gate end of Loi Kroh Road, which has two large
TV screens showing silent movies with Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin being
the top draw cards. (Let me tell you that this slapstick humour is just as
rib-tickling for Thais as it is for farangs. Madame is still laughing!)
The restaurant is a single shop-house, tending towards even
being called ‘funky’ with art by Alain, the Chiang Mai resident French
painter on the walls. Tiled floors and bright throw-overs on the tables
brighten the place and the atmosphere is cheerful.
The restaurant is under new ownership, but director Philip
Harris is no newcomer to running restaurants, having been the driving force
behind the Bahn Thai restaurant in London for 20 years, voted the best Thai
restaurant outside Thailand by Newsweek and Gourmet magazine. (As an aside, I
realised I had eaten there in 1986!)
Philip, once voted as one of the UK’s most promising new
chefs, has revamped the old Mango Tree menu adding many items and some fusion
cuisine items. It begins with 3 pages of breakfasts, with sets between 95-195
baht, or build it yourself with individual items generally around B. 20-40.
These are followed by a page of coffees and teas and fresh juices.
Next up is a page of snacks and single dishes (B. 150-245)
with egg mayo sandwiches at the bottom end ranging up to ostrich steak
sandwiches served in Focaccia bread and fries at the top. Soups come next, all
at B. 95 with a warning that they are large servings and, “You are advised
against ordering anything further until you have finished your soup,” says
Two pages of burgers are offered next (B. 100-195)
including veggie-burgers. There are 7 salads at around B 105 with again the
warning to wait before ordering anything else - the servings are generous. The
western menu finishes on the next page with NZ Ling fish (B. 195), NZ mussels
and pies served with mashed potatoes and imported NZ peas (B. 150).
The Thai menu commences with a page explaining the concept
behind the items and then two pages of salads and snacks (B. 95-195). Spicy
soups are next, generally around B. 100 with all the usual favourites and a
few new ones such as seaweed soup.
Two pages of curries around B. 120 are followed by fried
and grilled items (B. 95-245). Rice and Noodles are next (B. 15-135) and then
desserts, beverages and beers (including many imported brands) and wines from
around B. 600 a bottle.
Philip presented us with a selection of his dishes,
including a NZ Ling fish wrapped in pandanus leaves, which was very tasty and
an interesting change from the usual chicken variety of this dish, and then
followed with the spicy salad of smoked salmon. This is a fusion dish with the
imported salmon incorporated in the Thai salad and was just simply
sensational. I could have stopped right there, I didn’t want to lose the
However, Philip was not going to let us stop there. A prawn
satay was next, which was excellent, as was the grilled ostrich steak and
finally the Ling fish fillets with a chilli/garlic woon sen noodle. Again
The Dining Out team walked away from the Mango Tree Café
very impressed. The fusion dish of spicy salad of smoked salmon was
sensational and I have raved about this item to anyone who would stand still
long enough. The surroundings are not noteworthy, but the food most certainly
is. Not cheap, but good value when you look at the size of the servings. Go on
Sundays if you want a large roast (one diner commented, “Do you think I’m
an American?” when he saw the serving), but go at any time for some
excellent and well thought out cuisine. Highly recommended.
Mango Tree Café, 8/2-3 Loi Kroh Road, Chiang Mai, telephone 053 208
292, open daily 7 a.m. to 10.30 p.m.