Thai SELECT : Mango Tree Manila in Bonifacio Global City
During my early days of blogging, I used to keep a running list of restaurants that I wanted to try. In fact, it was a dream of mine to dine in all of the new restaurants in town. It sounded possible then albeit rather idealistic but I kept that list for more than decade or so. I even have a Singapore version of the same list when we relocated to the Lion City almost 10 years ago. Was I able to cross off all the restaurants in my list? Almost. It was an expensive activity but Paul and I had fun discovering new restaurants and treating our taste buds to a wide variety of flavors. Majority of these restaurants you can read about in this blog.
Now that I'm now a mom though, not only am I not able to go out as much anymore, my priorities have began to shift. Our family's budget focuses more on our needs vs. our wants and the things that would be for the kids vs. ours. Dining out or ordering food is still something that we love to do but we would focus more on family-friendly establishments or at least those with food items that my kids can enjoy. Sometimes though, Paul and I would still treat ourselves to a good "adult-friendly" meal during our occasional dates.
A few weeks ago, we got an invite to dine at Mango Tree in Bonifacio Highstreet. This restaurant has been around for ages and I can't believe it's only now that we got around to visiting this. It was also perfect timing as I really miss Bangkok and authentic Thai food. While we are planning to take the kids out on their first ever post-pandemic trip abroad, the plans to visit Thailand might have to wait awhile. Nothing to worry though as the Royal Embassy of Thailand here in Manila has identified a couple of restaurants that are authentically Thai for all those who are craving for the yummiest Pad Thai, Tom Yum Soup and more. These restaurants are chosen as part of the Thai SELECT program and the qualifications include having a Thai chef and making use of authentic Thai ingredients. Indeed, Mango Tree has passed this test with flying colors and so you are assured of getting not only the yummiest but truly authentic Thai food in every visit.
As we entered the restaurant, we were surprised that it was jam-packed for lunch. Almost all tables were filled and the servers were just so busy attending to everyone's needs. It was such a beautiful sight coming from two years of home quarantines and major social distancing. Finally, normalcy can felt once again. We started our meal with my favorite Chicken Satay (Php. 420) -- I love satay so much most especially because of the peanut sauce that comes with it. The chicken was so tender and the peanut sauce has this delicious sweet hint that perks up the smokey flavor of the meat. They also serve this with vinegar dipping sauce but it's peanut sauce all the way for me. I love this so much that I even ordered more the following Saturday for my in-laws to enjoy as well.
We also tried the Steamed Sea Bass with Lime Sauce (Php. 1550) . The fish was so fresh and you would instantly know it as it is free of any fishy smell or after taste, the meat was silky and soft and I love how they steamed it with lime sauce. It's a very simple dish but was one of the highlights of our meal. I was so lucky that this dish was sitting in front of me so I got to have an extra serving of the fish together with more rice. Oh, by the way, rice is unlimited here at Mango Tree so for those who loves loves loves rice, this is the perfect place for you.
The meat lovers out there will enjoy the Thai Isan Spareribs (Php. 680). I can totally imagine my dad going for this as the spareribs was grilled so well that the meat literally would fall off the bone and it's covered in sweet honey sauce making it a kid-friendly dish as well. I was busy enjoying the fish more so this was just okay for me.
We skipped all the regular, tried and tested Thai dishes such as the curries, the soup and famous Stir-Fried Pork with Holy Basil but I will make sure to try them on my next visit. I realized that I just can't do without my all time fave Green Curry Chicken.
After all the meats, we just needed our veggies and I was sooooo happy to try the Som Tum Chayote. Okay, full disclosure, I am not a fan of sayote/chayote so I was actually eyeing the dish with a bit more caution. However, upon hearing the raves of my lunch mates, I decided to give it a try and guess what?! It was so good. I love the play of spicy and sweet flavors and you get to enjoy the crunchy strips of veggies with peanuts too. It was such a delight for our senses and while I'm not sure if it's meant to be a starter or a vegetable dish, I will always make sure to order this in my succeeding visits.
My mom loves okra and I know she will love the Stir-Fried Lady Fingers (Php. 380). Admittedly, it's not for me but I'd gladly order this for her to enjoy.
Of course, what's a Thai meal without Pad Thai right? I remembered the time when Paul and I went to Bangkok with our sisters, we would have pad thai and Thai Iced Tea in every meal. We went for a very quick trip and yes, every single time, we would be on a lookout for these two items. Mango Tree makes really good Pad Thai and they do not want to settle for ordinary so here, they have their Pad Thai topped with Soft Shelled Crab (Php. 790). I honestly think this is very reasonably priced since the serving is big and I love how Thai food is always presented so well. Look how the crab sits there like the pad thai's crowning glory. It's truly meant for royalty.
Finally, dessert. I am a huge fan of Thai dessert. I love anything with coconut cream/milk and those Thai red rubies are to die for. Of course, what's a good Thai meal without having the signature Mango Sticky Rice (Php. 380)? This is probably one of the best I've tried as the rice was served warm and chewy, the mangoes were sweet and it doesn't have any uncooked grains which is a common problem with most Mango Sticky Rice in the metro. Mango Tree truly nailed it with the Mango Sticky Rice. Apart from this, I will definitely go back and try their Tako Khao Phod which is a long time favorite Thai dessert of mine.
It was such a fun lunch where Paul and I got to try more authentic Thai dishes apart from our usual go-tos. I'm glad that after so many years, we now have another Thai food destination to visit to satisfy our craving.