Last night my wife and I met up with the two world famous food bloggers (Erin and Ben) from We Got Served at St Paul’s Mango Thai. Self proclaimed as offering both excellent atmosphere and a large selection of Thai food, I was excited to try out the Thai restaurant Metro Magazine proclaimed “Truest Thai”.
We arrived a few minutes early and had a chance to see the small space almost empty before the dinner rush arrived. Right near the front door are a few low tables with rough, unpainted wood and some large cushions. With the cold weather seeping in from the front door and a pregnant wife I was pleased with their choice to seat us deeper into the restaurant at a standard height table. There are plenty of bamboo themed items going on at Mango Thai which separates the space a bit and hides the kitchen from view. We noted that the seating was very comfortable with large cushions under us that were pregnancy approved. My only complaints about the restaurant’s space was its small size and how low the lighting was. It’s very small inside and the tables are close together. Several times we had to rearrange the location of our table to allow other diners access to their chairs without bumping into us. The lighting is low and with black menus and dark red chilies to designate default spice level, it’s hard to read at night–even for me.
Mango Thai’s menu is fairly extensive and offers a good number of traditional Thai dishes as well as more Americanized versions preferred by just about everyone who has eaten Thai locally. Everything was very reasonably priced and entree items ranged between $8.95 and $13.95. The Budget Nazi (TM) was pleased with the pricing and rescinded her earlier statement that I was only to order an entree and no appetizers.
My wife chose the fried tofu which came with two peanut based sauces (a very light sweet and sour with crushed peanuts and a Thai peanut sauce which didn’t taste like peanut sauce at all). Both sauces were excellent and the kitchen was happy to provide my wife with a peanut-less sauce on the side after her request. Erin and Ben went with the Mango Spring Rolls which, as I had seen at other tables earlier, were presented beautifully–similar to what I had eaten at Spice Thai in Savage–but with a lot more carrot garnish, something which seemed to be a theme tonight.
After a comfortable wait, which allowed time for Ben and I to drink our own beers from the cooler stationed next to the table (Mango Thai allows you to bring in your own alcohol–apparently up through hard liquor–so we chose four 22 oz beers at Haskel’s earlier in the week), our server took our entree orders. My wife went with the Cashew Chicken, I ordered the Shrimp and Chicken Basil, I believe Ben got the Pad Kee Mow and Erin ordered the Tom Kha Chicken Coconut Soup.
Erin’s soup was by far the most impressive force on the table when it was delivered. Arriving in a large, heated, metal tray spitting fire (which I didn’t realize until the table next to us ordered something similar) the soup gave off an amazing aroma that really got me ready for my own. I couldn’t really see Ben’s entree except for the pile of decorative carrots on top but after viewing Erin’s picture of it, I have to admit it looking tasty. He later mentioned that even with three chilies on the menu, it wasn’t spicy enough for him and he had to use some of my extra dry red pepper to kick it up to a level he was comfortable with (please note: Ben is a proven spice pussy so you have been warned to have them kick it up if you like it hot).
My wife’s Cashew Chicken was wonderful. The sauce was light, flavorful, and unique. Definitely unlike any cashew chicken dish I’ve tried before, I honestly wish I would have stolen some more from her plate. Unfortunately she gobbled a good bit of it up before I even had time to sneak my fork over there. After dinner she noted that it was a great dish and she would definitely eat it again. I think we might be back for a future trip to Mango Thai.
My Shrimp and Chicken Basil did not disappoint in portion size, shrimp, or chicken. I had been told that Mango Thai’s portions were tiny but I was definitely pleased with what we received. I didn’t even use half of the rice offered and I still could barely get it all down. I had originally planned on boxing up some to take home but it was so fucking tasty that I just couldn’t bring myself to stop eating. While I asked, as usual, for it to be as hot as they could possibly make it, I did have to resort to calling for an additional spice tray. The server looked at me in absolute horror as if I had just cursed his dead grandmother. He swore that he had never seen the kitchen use as much spice as they did on my plate. I assured him that he shouldn’t take offense because nothing is hot enough for me–well, except 20 Girvan Grille Ghost Wings in 10 minutes. After dumping 1/4 of the crushed red pepper and all of the chili/garlic sauce (both which appeared homemade), it did the trick and made my nose run and the telltale beads of sweat appear on my forehead. To be fair, after my additional doctoring, the heat remained with me in a pleasant way all the way home and even could be felt burning my lips as I crawled into bed two hours later. Ahh, success.
Overall I was extremely pleased with every last little bit about Mango Thai last night. From the service to the food this place get our thumbs up. I am excited to go back and try some of their other dishes–especially following Cristina Cordova’s recommendation to me on Twitter to try the Chili Mint Chicken, something which I didn’t see until it was too late.
Have you ever eaten at Mango Thai in St Paul? If so what did you think? Do you believe it’s the Metro’s “Truest Thai” as reported in Metro Magazine? What dishes did you enjoy most there? Whatever you have to say about Mango Thai go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts or even suggestions on where you believe the most authentic Thai happens to be!
Mango Thai Restaurant
610 Selby Ave
St. Paul, MN 55102
Monday to Thursday: 11 AM – 10 PM
Friday: 11 AM – 11 PM
Saturday: 12 PM – 11 PM
Sunday : 12 PM – 9 PM