Mango Tree celebrates holidays with special menu

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 11 2012 11:20 AM | Updated as of Dec 11 2012 07:55 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Thai fine dining restaurant Mango Tree at the Bonifacio Global City has come up with three special dishes for the holiday season, which were presented recently to a group of select food writers.

Located at the Bonifacio High Street Central, the metro’s latest dining and entertainment hub, Mango Tree is the flagship branch of the growing restaurant chain in the Philippines, which also includes two Mango Tree Bistros in Trinoma, Quezon City and Greenbelt 5, Makati City.

It is part of the global chain of Thai restaurants, which can also be found in London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Doha and the Thai capital, Bangkok.

In keeping with the modern vibe of this 180-seat, two-level restaurant, with tasteful Thai accents and outdoor seating, the Christmas specials add a Thai twist to three popular dishes.

Clearly, the lobster is the one to order if you plan to celebrate the holidays with family, friends and loved ones. A entire lobster is served with the meat already conveniently cut up so you don’t have to stress yourself in opening it up. The Thai touch comes in the sauce, which includes coconut milk, red curry paste and a secret ingredient that Thai head chef Siwat Korsem refused to identify.

Mango Tree’s lobster. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra for ABS-CBNnews.com

“It’s not too spicy so it’s good for the Filipino people,” Korsem told ABS-CBNnews.com, adding that he was going for well-balanced flavors in the lobster dish.

Korsem also noted that lobsters are not usually offered in Thailand as they are very expensive there, fetching as much as 10,000 baht in hotels. The lobster served at the Taguig restaurant is sourced in the Philippines, which explains the much lower price tag.

Another Mango Tree special is the roasted beef tenderloin, which Korsem said is his signature dish as it is based on a dish his mother made. The garnishing of red and green chili strips add both the Thai and the Christmas twist to this familiar dish, made even more interesting with the use of Johnnie Walker whiskey while preparing the beef.

Mango Tree’s roasted beef tenderloin. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra for ABS-CBNnews.com

Filipinos will surely like the sweet and spicy grilled ribs, rubbed with, among others, coriander, garlic, pepper and honey. It is served in a “basket” made of taro strips and goes so well with steamed rice.

Mango Tree’s grilled ribs. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra for ABS-CBNnews.com

Korsem ended the meal with a Thai-style panna cota, which included red water chestnuts.

Mango Tree’s Thai-style panna cota. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra for ABS-CBNnews.com

All the dishes are portioned for sharing and are available only for limited time during the Christmas season.

Not fusion

Korsem, who has also worked in Dubai, Australia and Singapore, was working as an executive chef at the spa resort in Phuket, Thailand before joining Mango Tree in Bangkok.

Mango Tree head chef Siwat Korsem. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra for ABS-CBNnews.com

Despite the restaurant’s modern interiors with high ceilings and a chi-chi bar area that serves creative drinks like chili mojitos, the Thai chef insists that his cuisine remains authentic.

“Our food is still authentic Thai. We don’t do fusion food,” he said, pointing out that he uses Thai ingredients in his dishes like fresh kaffir leaves and galangal.

The modern touch is limited only to the plating. “I don’t want to make it boring,” he said. “So I make something (modern) but it’s not about the recipe or the taste, but the presentation only.”

Asked why the dishes tend to be milder, he said this really depends on the customer profile. “I know how to cook for them. For the Filipino people, not too spicy,” he said, adding that he can adjust the spiciness depending on the diner.

He also pointed out that Thai cuisine comes with four levels of spiciness and that his main goal is to achieve a balance of “not too spicy, not too mild.”

“Actually a lot of people have a misunderstanding about authentic Thai (cuisine). In Thailand, we have four regions. Depends on which part of Thailand you’re going to,” the chef said, noting that in the south, for instance, the curries are very thick, while the northeastern provinces don’t use a lot of coconut milk.

To gauge a Thai restaurant’s authenticity, Korsem said there’s one ingredient that is a must.

If a Thai restaurant doesn’t have a Thai chef, it can’t have authentic Thai (food),” he said.

Mango Tree
7th Ave., Bonifacio High St. Central
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
www.mangotree.com.ph