Mango Tree recently opened a “café” in the Meshi Messe food complex in the Lumine 1 department store in Shinjuku, and it’s more accessible in every way. The Marunouchi branch is on the 35th floor; this one is on the seventh. There, the lunch buffet costs ¥2,625; here it costs ¥1,600 (and the selection is diminished accordingly). The café’s setting is entirely more relaxed, with animal print wall patterns and booty shaking R&B background music by day. In the evening, the music and lights are turned down to create more of a mood.
The buffet consists of half a dozen salad-type dishes, two soups, three curries (red, green, yellow), Thai omelet, larb moo (spicy ground beef), pad thai and dessert. Most of the favorites are there, with the exception, when we visited, of pad pak boong (Thai spinach with garlic sauce, ¥900 a la carte) and tom kha gai (coconut and chicken soup, ¥1,400).
At night there is also a well-selected a la carte menu. Pictures make ordering easy. The beers are Singha, Chang (both ¥700) and Heartland (¥650), and there are tropical cocktails including the Thailand Surfer (coconut juice and mango liquor, ¥900). The small wine list includes some promising bottles including New Zealand’s Cloudy Bay (¥6,500).
Far be it for us to advise anyone to play with their food in a restaurant, but one of the most enjoyable—albeit unintended—aspects of the buffet is being able to create your own dishes. We mixed larb moo and pad thai with great results. (Even more fun will be giving it a name.) We also enjoyed sampling all three curries and ranking them: green first, then red, then yellow. For dessert, you can create your own colorful concoction using tropically flavored tapioca, coconut milk, apricot jelly and dried mango slices.
The 35th floor of the Marunouchi building it isn’t, but for good-quality food and fun, Mango Tree Café is worth knowing nonetheless.