Optimistically Cautious

Sunday, April 20, 2008

More Western than Fusion: Sweet Mango

I had read numerous reviews – all positive – about Sweet Mango (9120 82 Avenue), a new-ish Vietnamese and Thai restaurant located in a south side strip mall. As such, it has been on my list of places to try for some time, and I finally had the opportunity to do so on Saturday.

Driving up to the restaurant, Mack and I were greeted by Sweet Mango’s signage summing up its food philosophy: "A modern Vietnamese fusion dining experience". As with other local fusion experiments, I was curious to see what their interpretation would be, and as it turned out, it was comparable to Matahari – they offer dishes more accurately described as “Westernized Asian” than “fusion”.

At any rate, my first impressions of the eatery were encouraging. Their equivalent of “Please wait to be seated” was a cute “Please be a patient mango”, complete with an image of the fruit. As well, the interior could have easily been a page out of an IKEA catalogue, with moulded white plastic new-age chairs, a clean modern paint scheme, and stalks of decorative bamboo in vases leaning against the back wall. The large tables (uncommonly sized in a food bracket which typically strives for space conservation over comfort) are perfect for those looking for a place to spread out and study, an observation potentially sanctioned by an advertised 10% discount on food for students with a valid ID - not a bad deal from an off-campus, non-pub establishment.

We were promptly seated, and each provided with a leather-bound book encasing beautifully put-together menu pages, complete with full-color pictures and detailed descriptions of dish options. I was impressed with the variety available, which spanned the usual grilled meat/vegetable rice plates, vermicelli bowls and pho, to more interesting choices like crispy tofu fries, Thai salads, and mango prawns. Though we had resolved to “eat healthier” just a day earlier, that ideal went out the window when we decided to order our respective benchmark dishes for Asian eateries – his being Spring Rolls ($3.75/3) and Ginger Beef ($11.95), mine being Pad Thai ($13.95).

We were hoping the wait for our food wouldn’t be too lengthy, as we had a show to attend immediately following dinner, and though there were only two waitresses covering the entire dining room, we didn’t stay idle for too long. Our appetizer arrived promptly, with a dessert-sized plate for each of us. While perfect for our spring rolls, the plate was much too small to comfortably eat our entrees from. But that was a minor complaint – the spring rolls were good – crisp from being freshly fried, and our two main courses were everything we expected them to be - inoffensive, predictable versions of our favorites. The pad thai was indeed spicy (as we had been warned on the menu), so it was fortuitous that we had the sweet morsels of fried beef and stir-fried vegetables as a tapering heat escape.

Though the dishes they offer, in my opinion, is not rightly described as “fusion”, for the quality and the dining room surroundings, Sweet Mango is a welcome addition to the Asian restaurant scene in Edmonton.



Menu page

Spring Rolls

Ginger Beef

Pad Thai

Finished (and yet not impressed)!

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home