KATHMANDU, Oct 21: With bags of flavors exploding in your mouth with every spoonful, Mango Chili is a delightful place for food lovers. This new place at LABIM Mall is a place you’ll want to return to, both for the food and the ambiance. A subsidiary of the COCA and Mango Tree restaurant franchise worldwide, it is the first ‘branded’ Thai Café-restaurant in Kathmandu.
With the filament bulbs creating a warm and homey ambiance, Mango Chili is a place you can enjoy with your friends, family or your significant other. The wooden tables and walls add a rustic touch to the café. The music is a touch too loud and you will have to be loud to be heard across the table but as you stay there a while, you get used to it.
The team, all trained in Bangkok for a month, strive to put a little bit of Thailand in very plate of food you order. The service is quite fast; your food will be on the table within 15 to 20 minutes of ordering. The restaurant opens for service from 11am and closes at 10pm with the last order at 9.30pm. The kitchen team, however, start prep at 9 am to be ready for service on the dot at 11.
Food Shrimp cake
Four balls of shrimp cake, deep fried until golden, crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, is a perfect appetizer to start your meal with. It is served with a sweet chili sauce and garnished with small cubes of tomatoes and pineapples that compliment the cake perfectly, making you want to go back for more.
Papaya salad, also known as Tom San, originated in the Isaan area, Thailand’s northeast. It was first made as a salad with fresh green papayas due to the abundance of the fruit in the region. It slowly made its way to Bangkok and got incorporated into the restaurant menus. Though the papaya salad has shrimp paste in its international counterparts, the one they serve at Mango Chili is pure vegetarian. The first mouthful hits you with a burst of freshness, and as you continue chewing you notice the extra crunch added by peanuts. When you bite into the raw beans that come on the side, the extra burst of freshness uplifts the flavor palate. Fresh and crunchy, with a hint of citrus, vegetarian or not, you should give this dish a chance.
Calamari is the culinary term used for squid especially of the fried Mediterranean variety. It is dipped in batter and fried for less than two minutes to avoid making the squid tough. The batter was crispy and golden brown and the sweet chili mayonnaise worked as the perfect condiment for the dish. However, the calamari itself was a touch too tough, rubbery, and a bit chewy.
Making it to CNN’s 50 most delicious food around the world, Pad Thai is a stir fried rice noodle garnished with Brussels sprouts, spring onions and has chili flakes, peanuts and a lemon wedge served as sides. There is an art to mixing everything properly in the plate in order to get the most out of your meal. The wait staff will stand by and instruct you on how to do so in case you are in need of assistance. The peanuts and the sprouts add a nice crunch to the soft noodles served with succulently juicy chicken. Initially sweet, the spice hits a little later and every mouthful has a slight hint of the fresh lemon juice. This dish is one of the favorites at the café to fight hunger.
A must have at the café, this curry is unlike other Thai curries; it has a base of roasted spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, bay leaves, nutmeg, and mace and is served with potatoes and very tender, juicy chicken. Even though you taste the spice in your very first spoonful, it isn’t overwhelming and overpowering. Overall, the dish is great and you can’t help but go back for more. Eaten with rice, this curry is one of the café favorites.
The coconut and lemon grass Panna cotta is served in a wine tumbler which is not the traditional way it is served. The flavor of the Panna cotta on the whole is really nice with the mint garnish bringing freshness to the coconut and vanilla flavor that runs through with a hint of lemon. It, however, quickly becomes apparent why it is served the way it is. Although it looked wobbly when it first came out, the Panna cotta isn’t set properly and is more like creamy custard which was slightly disappointing.
The tea imported from Thailand can be drunk hot and cold, with or without milk. The iced tea without milk was light, crisp, and fresh with a very strong chocolaty aftertaste. It was mostly women who were drinking this tea. The milk iced tea, on the other hand, had a slightly heavier taste and seemed to be a favorite among many men at the café.
(Lunch for two: Rs. 1200, Dinner for two: Rs 2200)