Restaurants styled as modern – be they Thai, Italian or, in Mandopo’s case, Chinese – have a brief to retain a connection to building blocks of the cuisine they serve while also demonstrating a point of difference that elevates the whole shebang. It’s not an easy task to pull off, essentially trying convince customers, ‘here’s food you’re familiar with but with combinations and presentation that exceeds your expectations’.
Still, at Mandopop at the Oriental Residence, they make a pretty decent fist of it, with a particular emphasis on elegance and technique.
For example, the steamed scallop dumplings (B160) come wrapped in the thinnest wonton, one side tinted purple with beetroot and the other green with spinach. It’s a dish with very little margin for error – eating it is also a test of one’s chopsticks skills – but the crucial scallop flavour is never overwhelmed by the seasoning.
The pan-seared foie gras served with crispy duck skin (B450) is perhaps even more ambitious, served on a bed of curd and cress with a drizzle of sweet chilli and mango dressing (above right). It’s a perfect balance of flavours and textures, he velvety richness of the foie gras offset perfectly by the crunch of the duck skin, mixed in with the spice and joyous zing of the dressing. An absolute triumph.
The seafood hot and sour soup (B235) is undoubtedly less innovative but still satisfying – a thick, warm broth packed with prawns, scallops, Chinese herbs and tofu. It’s remarkably filling despite a smallish serving – just watch out for the chillis.
It brings us to the mains – often the stumbling block for restaurants pushing a modern concept. The tenderloin beef in black pepper sauce (B550) is well-executed in its own right – the meat is tender and gives off exactly the right tangy bite that customers expect from this dish. However, after the foie gras, the presentation falls short, the beef served more or less on its own, or with rice. Given the exquisite, elegant presentation of other dishes, this is surprisingly plain.
There’s a spectacular return to form for the desserts, though. The yam paste with coconut cream and white gingko nuts (B150) mixes savoury sweet to winning effect, while the chilled mango pudding (B180) delivers a sensationally clean, fruity encore to an overall impressive performance.
Oriental Residence Bangkok, 110 Wireless Road 02-252-8001 | mandopop-bangkok.com | 5pm-midnight