Just like how a song can remind you of a person, an event or a scene from a movie, impressions of food are steeped in the recollections of past experiences and the stories behind them. Understanding why ingredients tend to be used in a particular fashion, where and who you are with when you first try a type of food, cuisine or eatery all combine to influence the future likelihood of you eating similar food or at a similar place again.
For me, Mango Restaurant will forever remind me of the passing of a family member as it was here that I had lunch that day. Scatterbrained due to it being an immediate family member and someone who had lived with us in the past, I decided to eat here as it is a type of food I find familiar. It’s not the type of food we tended to share together but it brought comfort to me in any case. I took my camera along to do something “normal” – well, taking photos of food is normal for food-bloggers in any case – on an otherwise unusual day.
Mango Restaurant is situated in the shop space above Café New York via a dark-coloured staircase entrance on Archer Street. Past the pay counter featuring a pyramid of Carnation milk cans, the interior is light-filled and decked out in contemporary, brown, faux leather furniture no doubt to in attempt to appeal to a young clientele. Its Chinese name has nothing to do with mangoes, nor does the menu. The food is a touch pricier than similar offerings in the area but, for better value, Mango does offer a couple of set meal deals.
I have one of these set deals for lunch where there is a choice of main dish preceded by a soup-of-the-day (cream of chicken on this occasion) with sweet, Asian-style baked bun and rounded off with a Hong Kong-style milk tea to finish. I opt for the comforting ‘Baked spaghetti Bolognese’ which is served in a typical Asian-fusion way with a random mix of vegetables in a sweetened tomato sauce. The tea is smooth and a highlight however, and manages to avoid leaving a chalky feeling around the teeth like so many others.
Monsieur Poisson decides to order the seafood soup mainly for its puff pastry lid, which arrives gloriously domed and holding the contents of a tomato-based broth. This is followed by the ‘Baked Portuguese chicken rice’ which has doubtful Portuguese origins, but does have a most fragrant sauce of coconut milk and curry powder.
Despite many years of living together this family member and I were not close emotionally and only ever close in proximity. I acknowledged their quirks, frustrating as they were, but was essentially too different in personality, upbringing and outlook to find anything common over which to bond. There is a strange sense of being unsure of what it is exactly that you’ve lost in such a case, apart from the mourning of a relationship and possibilities which could have been. And I’m very sad to say there are no standout shared food memories to look back fondly on either.
Mango Restaurant (不見不散)
Level 1, 77 Archer St, Chatswood NSW
Tel: (02) 9419 6591
Opening Hours: 7 days..11am-9:30pm?
*EDIT*: As at October 2012, Mango Restaurant is closed for business.