Everything about Mango Thai screams sleek and chic—boutique-y dining room (10 tables of customers jammed in elbow to elbow, some sitting on pillows), the spartan design, the stylish food presentations. If you want to feel trendy in Saint Paul’s hip SelbyDale neighborhood, this is the place to go, but the better reason to come is the fantastic food at affordable prices.
Appetizer hits include the crab and avocado rolls ($8.50) and the crispy tempura-battered squid ($6.95). Curries ($12.95 for panang or green; $13.95 for massaman) are creamy and deeply flavorful, likely due to the liberal use of fresh coconut milk and basil leaves. The chile mint beef ($10.95) is a popular entree, a stir-fry of chile peppers, onions, sweet peppers and tender beef strips tossed with fresh mint leaves and served in beef broth. And the pad kee mow ($12.95) stands out amid the noodle choices with kitchen-made flat rice noodles that suck up a broth redolent with chilies, beef, garlic, onion and basil. The dish has a smokiness that resembles BBQ.
In the autumn, Mango Thai offers a tremendous pumpkin curry ($20.95) served in a hollowed-out Asian winter squash (like a tasty jack-o’-lantern); squash chunks and red curry spices blend harmoniously in a creamy coconut sauce. When the ingredients are in season, usually September and October, the pumpkin curry is the best-selling item on the menu.
A few notes: No alcohol is served, but customers can bring in beer or wine. Reservations are only accepted for parties of six or more, but definitely recommended as this popular small space fills up quickly.