Restaurant operator takes a leaf out of its own book “Isan Kitchen”, published with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, to showcase the spicy, healthy, small plate-based cuisine of northeast Thailand in Japan
Leading Asian restaurant operator Mango Tree Worldwide has launched a new Mango Tree Café in Japan, bringing authentic street food from Isan, the region of northeast Thailand, to diners in the bustling city of Kawasaki.
The new Mango Tree Café Kawasaki is located on the fourth floor of Lazona Kawasaki Plaza, a major shopping and lifestyle complex in the heart of the city. Kawasaki lies between Tokyo and Yokohama in the world’s busiest metropolitan area, with a population of over one million people in its own right.
The new casual restaurant will specialise in traditional dishes from Isan, including “som tam gai yang” – spicy papaya salad with grilled chicken. The classic ingredients of som tam are shredded papaya, green beans, tomatoes, garlic and peanuts, which are combined with red chilies, palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice to create the perfect balance of spicy, sweet, salty and sour flavours. This light yet fiery salad is then served with grilled chicken (gai yang) for the ultimate combo meal.
Largely rural, the Isan region borders Laos, Cambodia and the Mekong River and is home to thousands of farms and ranches which grow much of Thailand’s fresh produce. With such an abundance of fresh produce available, Isan has developed a rich culinary culture and is now considered to be the culinary heart of Thailand. As part of its efforts to showcase Isan cuisine, Mango Tree Japan is now launching a book on Isan cooking in Japanese, supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
“Som tam is one of the most popular dishes in Thailand, enjoyed by everyone – young and old, rich and poor. We are delighted to bring this wonderfully spicy treat to Japanese diners with the opening of this new Mango Tree Café, as we continued to expand our contemporary culinary concept across the country,” said Trevor MacKenzie, Mango Tree’s Global Managing Director.
“Located in a retail complex within the Greater Tokyo Area, Mango Tree Café Kawasaki will benefit from significant footfall. We fully expect this restaurant and its authentic Isan menu to strike a chord with local diners, and I look forward to introducing Mango Tree Cafés to even more parts of Japan in future,” he added.
In addition to som tam, the menu at Mango Tree Café Kawasaki will feature a range of other traditional Isan dishes, including “larb” (spicy minced pork with Thai herbs), Isan sausage and the Lazona Special Plate – an assortment of Isan favourites including gapao, green curry, vegetable salad, a fried egg, noodle soup and a friend egg.
Diners can also enjoy a selection of light bites and classic Thai dishes, such as “pad Thai” (stir-fried noodles) and “gaeng kiew whan” (Thai green curry), while lunchtime specials include “pad gapao” (spicy stir-fried minced chicken or pork on rice, topped with a fried egg) and “tom yum goong” (spicy and sour prawn soup).
Bright, stylish and modern, with a full bar service, Mango Tree Café Kawasaki can seat up to 60 diners. It is expected to be frequented by a wide range of diners, including young people, families and couples. Its setting within Lazona Kawasaki Plaza will also bring Thai cuisine to many new customers, including office workers seeking a light lunchtime treat.
Thai cuisine is hugely popular in Japan and Mango Tree Worldwide has identified the country as one of its key focus markets. At present there are 20 Mango Tree restaurants in Japan, 11 of which are Mango Tree Cafés.
With Japan’s appetite for authentic Thai food showing no signs of abating, more Mango Tree Cafés are expected to open in future, bringing som tam and other delectable delicacies to an increasing number of diners all across the country.