When a restaurant has an outpost in Harrods it must be doing something right, and so it seems with Mango Tree.
With just a handful of elite locations in its portfolio, including properties in Doha and Bangkok, the exclusive chain also welcomes guests to Belgravia in south-west London.
Indeed, the London restaurant-proper has views over Buckingham Palace, adding another layer of glamour.
Invited to visit this spring, I was delighted to discover a spacious, modern establishment, packed to the rafters on a Thursday night.
On arrival we were escorted to the bar for opening cocktails.
The menu has been created with Thailand in mind, using Thai flavours to complement the food.
With drinks including Bangkok fizz, Thai sunrise, Hibiscus flower fizz and the conventional lassi, there is something for everyone.
Easy on the eye, drinks are served in varying arrays of vessels (including a pineapple and tankard glasses) which adds to the relaxed fun vibe of the restaurant.
I opted for a Green Frog – a fizzing, crisp affair made with cucumber and gin – while my guest enjoyed a hibiscus flower fizz
Made from hibiscus syrup, hibiscus flowers and champagne, it made for a light, refreshing start to the meal.
Indeed, though busy, Mango Tree never felt rushed and we were allowed to dine at leisure.
Cocktails on arrival create a relaxed atmosphere at Mango Tree
Moving through to the main room we took our seats.
Tropical flowers native to Thailand fill the expansive space, seeking to transported diners to the tropics.
The interior is stylish, with banquette seating running down the middle of the room and round tables to the side.
Looking through the menu, there was plenty of choice.
Using traditional Thai ingredients, herbs and spices Mango Tree serves dishes from each of the four main culinary regions of Thailand.
The north is represented by rich and mild dishes; the east by spice; the central region brings mild dishes influenced by Chinese cooking; and hot and spicy food comes from the south.
With dishes such as ‘pla pow’ (grilled fillet of sea bass wrapped in banana leaf), ‘goong ten’ (fresh king prawns steamed in tom yum sauce, served with chilli and garlic sauce), ‘gae yang’ (grilled rack of lamb served with north eastern style spicy sauce) and ‘gaeng phed ped yang pon lai mai’ (red curry with roasted duck served in a pineapple bowl) Mango Tree has the full taste of Thailand.
Thai flavours at Mango Tree, London
To start I opted for ‘gai hor bai toey’.
Deep-fried corn-fed chicken fillet marinated with coriander and garlic, the dish comes wrapped in pandan leaves and is served with dark sesame sauce.
Unwrapping each one was a little present, revealing pieces of warn, juicy chicken with just a hint of spice.
Across the table, a vegetarian dimsum was well received by my dining companion.
For mains, we opted for ‘ped mahham’ and ‘gaeng kiew wan pak’.
The latter, the classic Thai green curry with exotic vegetables, bean curd and Thai aubergine, was declared the best she’d ever eaten by my guest – high praise indeed.
The former - slices of roasted duck on bed of pak choi, served with an exotic sweet and sour tamarind sauce and topped with curry leaves - was also delicious.
Served with exceptionally sticky rice, both dishes were more than enough for one, meaning dining at Mango Tree is comfortably in the mid-range price bracket.
All the plates were lavishly presented, giving the chefs free reign to indulge their artistic tendencies and creating a real air of enjoyment during the meal.
Delicious desserts at Mango Tree
Although out of keeping with the Thai theme, we opted for sake to accompany, in what turned out to be a wise decision.
Previously I’d avoided the cloudy, warm drink, but here it was served crisply chilled and was much more rewarding.
Eschewing dessert, we instead finished with a pair of house whiskeys recommended by our perceptive waiter.
Indeed, a final secret of Mango Tree’s success must be its wonderful staff, who were courteous, discreet and charming throughout – all in all, a real pleasure.
Thai cuisine’s subtle layering of flavours is increasingly replacing the ubiquitous Indian curry as the UK’s favourite food, but with so many restaurants to choose from how can you be sure of quality?
Mango Tree, situated in the heart of Belgravia, close to Buckingham palace, is a part of London that will be forever Thailand.
Like its original branch back in Bangkok, the restaurant offers exquisite Thai cuisine in a modern, stylish venue.
Find out more on the official website.