The Jakarta Post
Savoring a bowl of hot, spicy tom yum soup in a rainy afternoon would be a simple yet perfect heaven to forget Jakarta’s hopeless traffic.
Come with friends or just with the special someone to Mango Tree Bistro at Epicentrum Walk Kuningan in South Jakarta. It will surely calm your mood and fill your tummy with memorably tasty dishes and warm hospitality.
When speaking about Thai food, the world-renowned tom yum soup is always the first to come up. Enjoying the wonderful combination of spicy and sour flavors of this bistro’s signature tom yum is a definite must, especially as Time Magazine voted it as the best tom yum soup.
Mango Tree Bistro is a franchise of a Bangkok restaurant chain, Mango Tree, which has 68 branches worldwide including Tokyo, Dubai, London and Manila.
The restaurant, which is part of the Bangkok-based COCA restaurant group, has been serving Thai cuisine for over 20 years. COCA itself has been in the culinary business since 1957.
With a solid background, it wouldn’t be too much to say that this bistro treats each of its dishes as an uncomplicated masterpiece.
The bistro’s tom yum seafood soup tastes spicy yet light at the same time — making it a victorious dish either as a standalone or with nice Thai steamed rice.
Its fresh prawns and squid blend perfectly with spices such as lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves, chili peppers, lime juice and mushrooms.
“Tom yum is tom yum, we don’t try to play with it. I looked back in history and for tom yum, you must use fresh river prawns because they have a distinct taste. And never over-spice the tom yum,” says the bistro’s CEO Pitaya Phanphensophon.
“Start with chicken stock, then use fresh prawns, boiled water, lemongrass, galangal [Thai ginger], kaffir lime [citrus hystrix], chili and put the prawns in, cook it up. Add fish sauce, and lime juice last.
“It’s a modern version, whereas the traditional tom yum recipe is a bit more complicated with the lemongrass cooked in the stock,” the bistro’s executive said at the launch of the Jakarta branch.
Although he refuses to be called a chef, Phanphensophon is actually the great man behind Mango Tree’s culinary creations.
For starters, the bistro offers various hot and cold appetizers. Hot options include the interesting pandan chicken (marinated chicken wrapped in pandan leaves and served with chili dipping sauce) and deep-fried spring rolls (mixed seafood salad with squid, shrimp and jelly fish tossed in a spicy lime sauce).
Cold appetizers include a mango salad (traditional green mango salad with roasted grated coconut and crushed peanuts) as well as a pomelo salad with shrimp (Thai pomelo salad with roasted grated coconut and fresh shrimp).
Besides its critically acclaimed tom yum seafood soup, the bistro also offers four other soups — tom kha chicken and tom kha prawn (sweet and sour coconut milk soup with either chicken or prawns); tom yum prawn as well as tom yum vegetarian.
For true culinary hunters, the grilled chicken with lemongrass (grilled Thai herb chicken with lemongrass, served with chili sauce) and the crispy deep-fried sea bass with mango salad are irresistible delights.
The restaurant also serves various rice and noodle-based dishes, including the Mango Tree special fried rice (salted fish fried rice with chicken wings, fried egg, deep-fried wonton and green mango salad) as well as the vegetable pad Thai (stir-fried Thai rice noodles with mixed vegetables and tofu in pad Thai sauce).
In dessert department, the bistro offers red ruby ice as well as its signature take on mango with sticky rice.
No meal would be complete without a selection of beverages, and Mango Tree offers simple drinks as well its more
complicated cocktails and selection of wine. It also boasts two signature mocktails, the mango tango and the
Both inside and out, Mango Tree Bistro is decorated in muted colors which give the eatery a calm and cozy atmosphere for a dinner or a casual gathering after work.
Its exposed brick walls and the patterned wood flooring reflect a combination of traditional elements in a modern arrangement.
Inspired by Thailand’s Sky Lantern Festival, colorful replica lanterns in the middle of the dining area and the green lanterns in the outdoor area also add to the lighting design.
The bar is located in the corner of the main dining area, with colorful lighting that adds an element of fun. An open kitchen offers guests intriguing visuals of the kitchen in action.
Mango Tree Bistro
Epicentrum Walk, 1st Floor
Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said, Kuningan, Jakarta
Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 11 to 2 a.m.
— Photos courtesy of Mango Tree Bistro