May 26 2011
When it was suggested that I write about a special place to eat in Hoi An, the virtuous side of me thought, “I really can’t afford to research that one” while the naughty, gourmet side of me said, “Yippee!”. That side normally wins, and hence I found myself scouring reviews to find a suitable venue to check out.
The problem with Hoi An (OK, I suppose it’s not really a problem) is that there are just too many great places to eat. I considered the obvious choices: Brothers’ Cafe, the most beautiful restaurant in Hoi An; The Lighthouse, great squid and equally great views; Mango Rooms, which our very own Travelfish.org says “is a bit pricey but a great place to hang out”; and L’Annam at the Victoria Hoi An resort. I also looked at some newer places, including Brasserie Cava, which was very appealing but a bit too romantic for a lone diner. In the end I opted for Mango Mango: Mango Rooms’ little sister, a high ranker in reviews and a recommendation from a good friend of mine.
Mango Mango is just across the bridge on An Hoi island. Turn right at the end of the bridge and you’ll see it on the corner. There are a few outside tables and more inside. I was offered a table outside and was not about to refuse: it’s a great spot, with views of the river and across to the mainland — well, it would be if coaches and taxis didn’t park up opposite somewhat obstructing the view. It’s very stylishly done out but with a cheerful burst of colour – orange primarily — saving it from becoming too pompous. Staff were polite yet friendly, further increasing my feeling of ease at dining alone.
So to the food. Mango Mango provides a compact but varied a la carte menu — starters are around the US$5 mark, mains start at $16 and desserts are $4 plus – but also offers a taster menu: four courses served with a glass of Cava for $38. Well, I couldn’t resist.
My starter of tiger prawns served with a fruity yet spicy sauce and slices of perfectly ripe mango was amazing. The flavours harmonised so well and the ice cold Cava really set it off. Next up was scallops served on a potato tortilla topped with salsa. Not quite such a success — the scallops were slightly mushy and overwhelmed by the salsa — but still a taste sensation.
The flavours intensified still further with the main course: duck breast with Asian five-spice. The duck was well-cooked and complemented by the powerful sauces and the cleansing fresh watermelon, green beans were perfectly cooked but also cooked in spices – I’d have preferred plain fresh vegetables to balance the duck — and the sticky rice was … sticky (I must be one of the only people in the world who don’t really like sticky rice).
I had high hopes for dessert and they were met. Bananas were simply flambed and served with good quality vanilla ice cream. Not flashy or particularly exciting, but it was very tasty and the perfect ending.
48 Nguyen Phuc Chu, Hoi An
T: (0510) 3911 863
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