Thai food is a staple favourite for Londoners, but with so many Thai restaurants in the city, it’s often hard to navigate the options especially when the quality needs to be good, the service stellar and the menu authentic. Mango Tree, based in the heart of Belgravia, next to Buckingham Palace and a 5-minute walk from Victoria station, meets all of this criteria and arguably exceeds it. Indeed, J.K. Rowling has cited it as a Thai institution in one of her novels, and BBC1’s MasterChef featured it.
As authentic as can be, the original Mango Tree branch is back in Bangkok and the London branch is extremely similar. The interior is spacious, minimalist, and welcoming, with gentle lighting and fragrances reminiscent of Thailand. Designed with a nod to feng shui, it is a hospitable and comfortable space perfect for relaxing lunch times, romantic dinners, and family gatherings. Indeed when my guest and I went, we were pleased to see the venue filled with a relaxed crowd, and plenty of seeming regulars.
Greeted by our lovely, kind, and caring host, Esther Wang, we enjoyed an aperitif in the chilled lounge bar area. This was a glass of their Reisling, a 2015 Saint Clair Malborough from New Zealand that was deliciously light and zesty, with hints of lime and floral fruit and an off dry finish. Once seated at our table, we perused the menu over a bowl of prawn crackers.
Typical of good Thai restaurants, the menu is comprehensive and offers a range of starters, soups and salads, stir fries, noodles and rices, grilled and deep fried dishes, curries, steamed seafood, and dim sum. Given the volume of options, all of which looked excellent, we took the recommendations of Esther for our lunch.
The first course that she brought us was a selection of 6 very well presented different dim sum. These were fantastic, and definitely dim sum that rival the likes of Michelin star venues in this city. Amongst other seafood delicacies, we enjoyed a lobster dumpling, scallop dumpling, and sea-bass, all of which were topped with various roe, gold leaf, and truffles. Fresh and light, served with two dipping sauces, I would highly recommend trying these.
The second starter Esther brought us, was the Kor Moo Yang, a well sized plate of barbecued pork sliced and served with cucumber, and a traditional home made sweet and spicy nam jim jaew sauce. Redolent of hot summer barbecue feasts, the flavours were rich and juicy whilst the peanut dipping sauce was zesty and fragrant, cutting through the pork well and leaving a clean finish on the palate. This too, was pleasantly light and served a perfect second starter to our lunch. Still peckish enough for another bite before the main, Esther brought out one of her own favourites; the traditional Tom Yum soup of Thailand. Here, however, Mango Tree serve it with a hint of cream to offset the spiciness. A delicious bowl of hot, sour, and spicy broth with a dash of cream and shimeji mushrooms, lemongrass, lime leaf and coriander leaves, this soup felt like a wonderfully nourishing hug in a bowl.
Alongside these three starters, my guest and I enjoyed two fruity champagne cocktails that Esther recommended as a means of adding sweetness to the spices of our starters. Both were Mango Tree Kir Royal Cassis, my guest had the strawberry, and I had a mango variation. Very, very, very enjoyable!
Whilst my guest found the dim sum to be the lunchtime highlight, my favourite course was the main, a selection of traditional Thai dishes that Esther kindly suggested. Of course, one dish had to be my favourite, the Pad Thai Goong Yai. Presented perfectly, this was a large plate of goodness, a mound of Thai rice noodles stir-fried with king prawns, with mounds of crushed peanuts, Chinese chives, bean curd and bean sprouts surrounding them, drenched in a homemade pad Thai sauce and topped with an elegant signature egg ‘net’. Alongside the noodles, was a large langoustine half ready to be cut out and served. The serving of this dish, the idea being that the guest mixes the noodles themselves to obtain the desired level of spices, added a welcome novelty to what is otherwise a long loved Thai restaurant favourite. My expectations were high, and delightfully exceeded; this was a fantastic Pad Thai. Creamy, nutty, savoury, with welcome bursts of spice and zestiness from the chives and chili, it was fantastic. Well worth ordering and a truly top Pad Thai in London.
The second main was a Pad Ka Pow – something I had never tried before but Esther recommended as a truly authentic traditional Thai experience. This was a bowl of stir-fried minced chicken with fresh chilli, garlic, snake beans and holy basil leaves, juicy, lean, and a wonderful pack of protein that would be brilliant with rice or noodles, or on its own as we enjoyed it. It felt healthy and clean yet flavoursome and filling – a welcome respite from otherwise heavy stir-fry dishes of the past.
To pair with these two mains, we enjoyed the typical Morning Glory vegetables as a side, spinach and pak choi being the main players. This was delicious on its own and would make a pleasant main with rice for vegetarians.
To drink, Esther brought us two glasses of the Viognier 2013 Chateau de Campuget, Costieres De Nimes which was a welcome addition to the spices of the mains. I love Viognier when eating Thai food, and this was no exception. Full of apricot aromas, with floral notes and hints of spice, the wine is luscious and ripe with a rich, sumptuous texture and zesty finish. A quintessential good Viognier and an excellent pairing with the Pad Thai and chicken.
By dessert, we were pleasantly full – not over stuffed though – which is somewhat of a novelty when attending Thai restaurants, which can fall into the category of serving heavy food that leaves one lethargic. No, Mango Tree’s cuisine was light, lean, healthy and fresh yet wholesome and filling. We finished our meal with two simple sorbets a pineapple sorbet and a champagne sorbet that Esther so kindly brought out to cleanse our palates. Enjoyed with two good coffees, we finished our meal delighted, relaxed, and ready to tackle the rest of the day.
The service was kind, attentive, and warm, Esther’s suggestions and support in navigating the menu were wonderful and the rest of the Mango Tree team were gracious and hospitable. To be clear – this was a highly enjoyable dining experience and one I would be happy to repeat with friends, family, and colleagues. A taste of true Thailand in the heart of London – thank you Mango Tree!
46 Grosvenor Place
London SW1X 7EQ