With so many restaurants in Southampton, it is hard to know which one to choose. In this new feature, we plan to visit as many restaurants as we can, and tell you which ones are worth going to, and which ones you should miss to save your money for Jesters. We are a team of three that include: a meat eater, a vegetarian and pescitarian, that way we cater for a range of dietary requirements.
Mango, a Thai style restaurant, right in the middle of Portswood, is known as a bit of a hot spot so we thought it would be a good place to start. The warm welcoming atmosphere and friendly staff have you quickly seated, and it’s not too long until drinks are on the table. The music aided conversation and the variety of tracks ensured that every taste was accommodated for (although metal heads might be a tad disappointed). The waiter was very knowledgeable about the drinks menu, he recommended the Otomal Blanco, priced at £16.95 a bottle. It had a crisp and fruity flavour that complimented every aspect of the meal. The cheapest wine, Pinot Grigio IGT, also came highly recommended and at under fifteen pounds it shows that you don’t have to break into that student overdraft to drink quality wine.
Fearing sounding like alcoholics, we feel we should tell you about our menu choices.One option was Thai style tapas; however, in keeping with the accommodating attitude of the restaurant we were able to have the tapas as starters.We had the prawn toast and crispy tofu; however, the starter not to be missed is the vegetable tempura. The perfectly cooked seasonal vegetables were covered in a light crispy tempura batter that left you wanting more. The tofu on the other hand, left much to be desired, it was rubbery and as crispy as a soggy dishcloth. The sweet chilli and peanut sauce was the highlight of that dish.
For mains, the pork and ginger seemed like a good test. Ginger is often a tricky ingredient, as it can overpower the dish. In this instance, the pork was perfectly cooked and more than capable of competing with the aromatic ginger. The coconut rice, ordered as a side, was light and creamy, helped soften the fieriness of the ginger.A dish often spoken fondly of is the crispy squid, which is coated in a spicy Thai sauce. If seafood is not quite your cup of tea, for £1 less you could swap squid to beef.
There is a feature on the menu which vegetarians can really cash in on: that many of the dishes can be adapted to vegetarian. The Chefs were able to alter the traditional Pad Thai, normally full of king prawns and squid, into a delicious noodle and vegetable dish and the egg that replaced the sea food worked with the al dente vegetables and soft noodles.
For dessert, we tried a selection of dishes recommended to us by the waiter. It was a rather eclectic mix. The somewhat heavy banana fritters were well balanced by the accompanying coconut ice cream. Cheesecake was an interesting option given that we were in a Thai restaurant; however, it was our favourite. If you want to try something different, the traditional banana coconut rice served on a bed of banana leaves (not edible!) would be the one to go for. It is also accompanied with coconut ice cream and a slice of kiwi. We are still in disagreement as to whether the kiwi, coconut and banana rice worked: please join the debate.
The overall experience was positive; however, the fact that we were not presented with menus upon seating made the first time we were asked for our orders a little awkward. Chaps, this is the kind of place you can take a special young lady (or old if that is the kind of thing you’re into) and be able to impress her without burning a hole in your pocket. It might not be socially acceptable to take your parents to Jesters, but if you have found they have come to visit, they should approve of this ethnic delight. There is a large room upstairs, so that the restaurant can be hired for birthdays and society meals, making Mango a versatile venue for entertaining the palate.