Mango Tree’s duck curry and mango sticky rice

When it comes to enjoying Thai cuisine here in Metro Manila, Mango Tree has always been one of the dependable go-to’s. So it was eye-opening to be talking to Emelda and Eric Teng, and be told that in the Greenhills area, until they recently opened their Mango Tree Cafe at the Promenade main lobby, there really hadn’t been a popular Thai restaurant one could head to.

Set in an open air area of Promenade, the Mango Tree Cafe is both inviting and casual; and while on the night we met they were still on soft opening, I had the chance to try some of the new dishes, and taste some of the ones that I had perused in the menu over the years I’ve patronized this eatery, but had never actually sampled.

In a way, it’s propitious timing for Mango Tree Cafe, for as the GCQ status extends and/or improves, and people feel safer to dine out; it’s Promenade location, and the fact that all the Promenade staff have been vaccinated, should make it one of the safer options for dining out. And if ever patrons are still reluctant to venture out of their homes, the takeaway, pick-up, and delivery options should ensure we don’t miss out on enjoying the Mango Tree dishes.

We started off with the shrimp pancakes and fried catfish salad, and they were both delicious reminders of what we had been missing and pining for in terms of Thai cuisine. But the first new dish we tried was the Tom soup with spare ribs, super tender morsels of ribs swimming in a Tom that had the right degree of sourness. Loved this one from the first sip of my spoon, and how the ribs added to it feeling like a meal unto itself.

Tom with spare ribs

The lemongrass chicken was up next, and for those who have traditionally ordered chicken satay, think of taking out the barbecue sticks and instead using spears of lemongrass that get infused into the tender chicken pieces as they’re being grilled. This one took me by surprise and it was great enough to make me forget satay for life.

One strong recommendation of Eric was to try their roasted duck curry, and I’m glad I took him up on it, as the slices of duck were extra thick yet tender, and the red curry really lent itself to the flavor and texture of duck. On my own, I’d have requested that they add to the spiciness of the dish; but for sharing, it’s always easy to keep it on a medium level and just make one’s own portion that much more spicy.

Sea bass and okra

The deep-fried sea bass and the okra (lady fingers) were the other two dishes we got served; and I liked how fleshy and firm the sea bass was. As for the okra, it was crisp, retained a lot of flavor, and became my big surprise of the night. I normally order morning glory or spinach with garlic in Thai restaurants, and this was my first encounter with okra, and I’m now a convert! Prepared with small slivers of peppers, this was one vegetable dish I’ll look forward to ordering again in the near future.

The traditional Thai desserts brought the night to a close; and it was great to note that during a period when most businesses would try to cut costs or minimize their operational expenses, the Mango Tree group are striving to make their food available to more people, and being strategic about new locations and branches.

It’s easy to pay lip service to national recovery and resiliency; but putting it into action by bravely opening new outlets truly deserves our support. I’m hoping the San Juan crowd and beyond will love and patronize the newly opened Mango Tree Cafe at The Promenade.

Source: Manila Bulletin (