DINING OUT - ENTERTAINMENT

Mantra – an opportunity for incantations

by Miss Terry Diner

A mantra is an incantation, usually performed to aid concentration in meditation, but the local Mantra in Pattaya is an incantation to aid culinary concentration: the new restaurant in the grounds of the Amari Orchid Resort.
From the outside, this is an imposing building, with the entry through two tall, studded wooden doors hiding much from prying eyes. Upon our arrival, the uniformed staff welcomed us and we were transported into another world. A world of drapes and amazing couches and a bar along one wall, which Mantra describes as the Opium Den and the Hedonistic Harem. And this was just the bar/cocktail area.
Through another set of double doors and we were in the dining section of this restaurant. It is almost ‘cathedral-like’ with incredibly high ceilings, a 400 sq. m floor area and a mezzanine running around three walls. Everywhere black and red, with spot lighting in the ceiling beaming down onto individual tables, making it such that you can see your food, but the overall lighting level in the restaurant is subdued. Very clever! The effect is breathtaking in size and spectacle.

We had Tadda (Nik) Wongsarot, the social director, take us for the guided tour before we sat down to eat. And it needs a tour to take it all in. There are live cooking stations along three sides, with an enormous black painted flue emanating from an Italian wood-fired oven dominating one wall. Each station was spotless, covering Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Seafood, Indian, Mediterranean and Lava grill, and the cooks were very busy on the Saturday night of our visit. At each end of the mezzanine there are private dining areas for different sized parties, up to 36 persons. We also visited the glass-walled temperature controlled wine cellar, presenting a very good selection of both Old and New World wines.
On returning to our table, our waitress “Winny” introduced herself and we began the difficult task of looking through the large and very extensive menu. We also selected our wine, settling on a Wolf Blass Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon about which the wine waiter asked whether we wished to have it decanted. We did, and it was done without fuss, after giving me the cork to examine and a sample to ensure the wine was in good condition.
Incorporated in the offerings are two set menus, one at B. 1,000 and the other at B. 1,500 per head. With seven live cooking stations, there is much on offer, and cover a wide range. Examples are a Japanese tempura for two at B. 150, or the Crispy pork from the wood-fired duck oven at B. 180. Soups are between B. 120-350, Tandoori items generally B. 200-300, pizzas B. 180-460, while imported Australian rib eye is B. 1150. Space precludes further elucidation of the menu!
We tried a variety of dishes and all were just simply excellent, and the Chicken Tikka was the best I have tried anywhere. Mantra is providing superb five star cuisine, without a doubt.
Mantra is quite different from any other restaurant in Pattaya. The food is fine dining and served appropriately, yet the ambience is fun and relaxed and suited to families (of which there were many on our evening) and not the usually hushed surroundings you find in fine dining restaurants. In some ways, perhaps the best of both worlds. The food was wonderful, with the only ‘demerit’ point being the foil butter pat, a personal dislike of mine, particularly when you are presented with such tasty freshly baked rainbow breads from the Italian oven.
The pricing is not exorbitant, especially when you look at the total package, and with careful selection you can actually dine quite inexpensively at Mantra.
We left muttering our own mantra: “Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful”. You must experience this restaurant to appreciate it properly. It is unique in its ambience, excellent in its food and gets our highest recommendation. Do try.
Mantra Restaurant and Bar, Beach Road (just down from the Dolphin Circle), telephone 038 429 591, fax 038 428 165, email [email protected] Open seven days, bar from 5 p.m., restaurant from 6 p.m., but 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. for Sunday brunch. Secure parking within the Mantra car park.