Four years after a celebrated opening in 2013, it’s safe to say that Mango Thai, 318 S Broadway, has more than carved out its own niche in downtown Rochester. Take a peek inside the restaurant’s windows any night of the week and you’ll find a bevy of diners from across the globe. It’s a frequent hangout for some of Rochester’s most cosmopolitan crews and home to its tastiest dishes.
Co-owners Marinporn Rachwat (a former flight attendant) and her husband, Chai Vang, spend enough time there, that’s for sure. I asked if they’d noticed anything related to the rapidly changing downtown area since moving into their space years back.
“It’s hard to notice something when you’re in the kitchen 14 hours a day,” said Rachwat.
Fair enough. Food prep at Mango Thai isn’t something that can be written down and repeated, after all.
“Thai food, the way we cook, we’re free hand. Basically no measurement,” said Rachwat. “It’s hard to find somebody who doesn’t know our food to have help in the kitchen because they don’t know if something’s missing if it doesn’t taste right, if something’s off.”
So the couple spends a lot of time in the kitchen. Chai brought his skills up from Dallas, Texas, where he’d learned from a chef from Thailand. The couple’s dedication to detail, in both presentation and flavor, is evident. The dishes they are most proud of? All of them. If it’s on the menu, it earned its spot there.
“When we make the menu, we don’t just find anything we can put in there,” said Rachwat, “We know customers are going to enjoy whether its a $13 dish or a $40 dish, we take pride in every single one.”
The variety of dishes is impressive; a cursory glance at the menu reveals items like Thai beef jerkey, pad see iew, red curry sea bass, green curry mahi mahi, green curry clams, pad ke mow.
What’s even more impressive? Vang comes up with these recepies and flavors on his own.
A couple new dishes are on their way, too: pineapple lobster, spicy mussels, and a seafood platter.
Vang’s culinary creativity is rivaled only by Rachwat’s decorating and organizing skills. Take the restaurant’s iconic tea presentation, pictured below. The careful placement of a flower, the full, steaming pot, the perfectly steeped tea. Or the fact that, despite its narrow dimensions, the restaurant is laid out with such precision that trips to the bathroom don’t involve colliding with other diners. These details are courtesy of Rachwat.
It adds up to a special experience. It’s one that even comes recommended by doctors.
“A lot of patients come here and they say the doctor reccomended it,” said Rachwat. “We have a regular that visits Rochester every two or three months, that’s one thing they look forward to is coming here.”
The close quarters has even been good for their marriage.
“I think it’s good because we have no choice but to be nice to each other…Sometimes you get into an argument but you have to work through it and just say we cannot move anyway because customers are here,” affirms Rachwat.
For a peek at the menu, check out mangothaimn.com. For reservations (which are recommended) or carry out, call 507-288-2360.