With the original Mango Tree in Bangkok and another in London, we approached their new 35th-floor Tokyo venture with high expectations of its much-touted "authentic Thai" cuisine. Promptly escorted through a dark narrow corridor across a floor glowing with paper lotus flowers, we entered the main dining room to find an unobstructed floor-to-ceiling vista unfolding before us.
Every detail whispered subtle sophistication, from the single green leaf adorning each table to the soothing sounds of cool jazz playing in the background of the softly lit room. The interior was so discreetly elegant that we almost thought we had stumbled straight out of Marunouchi and into Manhattan had it not been for the mostly executive Japanese clientele.
We were busy taking in the spectacular nighttime view when the arrival of our special cocktails refocused our attention. Despite a decent selection of wines (¥3,500-¥17,000/bottle), we had to try the Mango Tree (¥1,100), a luscious frozen potion of fresh mango juice and rum garnished with fresh fruit and an orchid blossom.
When we realized that the day's specials weren't listed in the English menu, the staff did their best to describe the hirame carpaccio (¥2,500) as flounder marinated in lime juice with Thai herbs. The delicate slices of hirame packed an extremely complex taste, as layers of lemongrass and lime unveiled themselves to release a subtle tang. The mélange of herbs and red chili together with fish sauce (nam pla) gave it even more zest.
We thought the deep fried spicy fish cakes (tod mun pla, ¥1,800) would balance the tang but could find disappointingly little evidence of the spiciness promised in the description. We promptly proceeded with another house specialty, poo phad ka hri (¥4,000), and were snapped out of palate amnesia with a taste of the yellow curry of crab hiding underneath a hard shell. The mild blend of flavors was perfectly paired with fragrant, fluffy rice, while the simple stir-fried mixed vegetables (phad phak ruam Miter, ¥1,100) provided a welcome balance of texture and color.
Having voted unanimously for the mango cheesecake to finish, we were crushed when told that we had mistakenly been given last month's menu and it was no longer available. Luckily, the remaining choices seemed to appease us as the fresh mango with sticky rice (¥800) was practically a meal in itself, a substantial serving of ripe mango and glutinous rice drizzled with sweet coconut milk. With crispy, delicate layers of puff pastry enveloping crunchy caramelized pineapple, the pineapple pie (¥600) was equally pleasing.
In the end, the course menus (¥6,000, ¥8,000) would probably have been a more economical, albeit less adventurous, option. Nevertheless, next time we're looking for a touch of posh Thai on top of Tokyo, we'll be sure to climb back up to Mango Tree.