Despite transiting through Victoria several times a month it's not often I find myself hanging out in Belgravia, which is why it's taken me so long to make my way to Mango Tree. I'm also very judgemental about Thai food and I'm very often disappointed with options at restaurants outside of Thailand. That said, I don't think it's fair to judge the foods that become popular and the reasons why a restaurant sticks with those options; if every other customer asks for green curry then why shouldn't you sell it?
But here's the thing: even if the menu at Mango Tree isn't entirely exciting to me, I can't help but admit they do those dishes a justice other Thai restaurants I've tried in the UK do not. I thoroughly enjoyed the meal and will return. Plus the staff are very attentive, answered every question I had (and I always have a lot), and laughed along with my probably not at all funny quips.
Oh, and their vegetarian menu is fish sauce free. No oyster sauce either. Sans shrimp paste. And it isn't a case of saying please leave it out as in other Thai restaurants (always specify no fish sauce, shrimp paste, and oyster sauce in Thai restaurants, even when ordering from the vegetarian menu). They say their vegetarian menu is vegan and they mean it, end of.
When I first bit into the som tam, I thought it was missing the funky element lost without the addition of fish sauce (or a well fermented substitute), but the more I ate the more I found it. Refreshing on a hot day, but if you want spice then ask for extra chilli.
The fresh spring rolls were what I would expect: fresh, stuffed with vegetables and noodles, and with a sweet chilli sauce to add flavour to the texture.
Choo chee curry is a rich coconut based red curry that rarely disappoints. I ordered it because I liked the idea of grilled aubergine as opposed to a random selection of vegetables and tofu. The dish was incredibly rich, just sweet enough, and probably the highlight of the mains.
One of my pet peeves when it comes to Thai restaurants outside of Thailand is that pad krapow is often made with sweet basil rather than, well, krapow (it is a literal translation to holy basil, so no other basil should be used). Hence I grilled the server about the ka pow pak before ordering, but was assured the ingredient in question was holy basil. This is a well stir fried dish of fiery vegetables that complemented the curry perfectly.
There are a few vegan friendly dessert options on the menu, but I do not trust a mango outside of South-East Asia and so we opted for lavender rose and chilli-lemongrass sorbets with coconut sticky rice. Whaaaat. I'm going to start making these by the bucket because wow. Good stuff.
There's currently a 50% off special if you book through certain online restaurant sites, so Google that up before you call for a table.
Go to Mango Tree if...
- You want guaranteed vegan Thai food. There's no worry about seafood ingredients sneaking into your so-called vegetarian food.
- You want elegance without breaking the bank. Mango Tree is gorgeous and the service is stellar. If you avoid alcohol, you can eat three courses for around £30 per person.
- You like the Thai food you already know. The vegetarian menu at Mango Tree contains all of the Thai favourites, including red and green curries, tom yum, and pad thai.