10 years ago, Pattaya saw a new restaurant being built in the grounds of the Amari. Called the Mantra, it announced that it dared to be different. The diners of Pattaya were not really sure, and some even went as far as to predict it was going to be a failure. 10 years later, Mantra is going very strong, thank you very much, and certainly no failure.
There is no other restaurant in Pattaya quite like it. It is a venue which is different, with enormously high (6.5 meter) ceilings with a mezzanine floor on three sides. On the non-mezzanine side, an Italian pizza oven (wood-fired) dominates, with an enormous black lacquered flu chimney reaching the roof towering above. Even the entry portals are 3.9 meters high and then you are escorted into the cocktail lounge. Something derived from the Arabian Nights with curtains cascading down from the roof surrounding well padded ottomans. I would not have been surprised if Lawrence of Arabia swept through on camel, pursued by Ali Baba and his 40 thieves. It is that kind of a place!
Another difference is in the cuisines offered: Japanese, Thai, Chinese, seafood, Indian, Mediterranean and lava grill all under one roof, with seven separate kitchens for each. And each section offering top quality food. ‘Amazing’, is the best adjective.
To celebrate the 10 years, Mantra with its new Executive Chef Shaun Venter, has revamped the menu with 40 percent different dishes, and changed the ambience with the addition of live music in the form of a Thai Jazz band (Tuesday – Wednesday – Thursday), and a DJ (Friday and Saturday). The menu prices are also now net and not the original + +. Shaun Venter saying that he has emphasized more on making the items affordable, but maintaining the same high quality. And the 10th anniversary will be celebrated with a whole month of promotions and ‘lucky’ fortune cookies as well.
Anyone for Sushi?
It was admitted that the previous menu was difficult to navigate, and that is one area that has taken up Executive Chef Shaun’s time, grouping the dishes into sensible sections, making choices much easier than before.
The cocktail bar is more of its own identity and even has happy hours 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Shaun hopes that this will keep the diners in the Mantra precinct after dining in the main hall.
So to the new menu where, for example, the soups are together, followed by salads, with Foie Gras Miso with Truffle and Asari Miso: Clams in Miso with Spring Onions.
Snowfish is always a delicacy.
In Salads, the Atlantic Salmon Sashimi and Avocado, Ikura Caviar, Ginger-Sesame Dressing, followed by a Chilled Somen Noodle Salad, Bonito Flakes, Spring Onions, Roast Nori, Daikon, Ponzu.
Four items from the Chinese wood-fired oven included BBQ Duck with Melon, Sweet Dark Soya and Thai Mango Mayo.
Thai contemporary has the two traditional soups of Tom Yum Kung: Spicy River Prawn Soup (B. 350) and Tom Kha Gai bracketed together.
For those wanting Italian items, there are many including six pizzas (B. 400-600), with the very interesting Shanghai pizza with Char Siu Pork, BBQ Duck, Onions, Chinese Parsley and Hoi Sin Sauce.
Under the Mediterranean heading you will find the Freshly Shucked Fin De Claire French Oysters, Lemon and Condiments (B. 600), which I found too and they were a very nice start to my evening.
Madame began with a Chicken Tikka (B.360) from Chicken Breast, Yoghurt, Herbs and Spices cooked in the tandoor. Spicy, but not overly so, was the general feeling, with a Garlic Naan to mop up afterwards.
We had begun our review with an aperitif in the cocktail bar, with a pleasant sparkler to cleanse the palate.
The Dining Out team agreed that the food was still of the highest quality and the menu certainly simpler to follow. With the prices now net, no nasty shocks and enough inexpensive choices to make dining at Mantra an everyday possibility and not just a ‘special occasion’ venue.
Mantra Restaurant and Bar, Beach Road (down from the Dolphin Circle), telephone 038 429 591, fax 038 428 165, [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.