MANGO ROOMS $$$
With its prime location on Bach Dang, Mango Rooms is a mainstay of Hoi An’s fusion eateries. Established in 2004, as the first of Chef Duc’s 4 restaurants here, these guys have had plenty of time to get things right.
And get it right they have.
The decor is vibrant, the music is chilled, the staff are lovely and as for the food – well, it’s no wonder Chef Duc’s reputation precedes him. Apparently, the Saigonese culinary champ spent a lot of time in Central America – hence the Latino-inspired flavours, bright colours and eclectic vibe of the restaurant.
Having lived in Hoi An for quite some time, I’m surprised I never noticed Mango Rooms before. But its unobtrusive exterior means that it easily blends into the row of far lesser tourist traps on Bach Dang. Make no mistake though – this place deserves your attention. You won’t find overpriced versions of Vietnamese staples thrown at you suspiciously fast. (I’ve been to such places on Bach Dang before and it’s clear that you pay for the setting, not the food).
No, Mango Rooms is all about delivering fresh and flavoursome dishes in a fun ‘n’ festive atmosphere. The bold primary colours and cool paintings create the perfect welcome. The lazy ceiling fans and the beachy music set a relaxed tone. And the attentive staff are always on hand to guide you through your culinary adventure.
We had the upstairs section to ourselves – but I imagine during the evening there’s stiff competition for a balcony seat! As it was, we had plenty of time and space to enjoy a lingering lunch.
We started with a couple of cocktails – a fruity sangria for me and a frozen margarita for Andy. Both were beautifully presented and certainly took the edge off the heat of the day. Note: There’s 50% off cocktails here until 6pm daily – and quite frankly, it’d be rude not to indulge!
For starters we had ceviche – a Peruvian classic that was all zesty lime, tangy mango and melt-in-your mouth tuna. The perfect complement to our fiery “Diavolo aperitivo” – a spicy beef concoction stuffed in juicy red peppers and green beans.
The very friendly and knowledgeable manager, Mrs Kieu, recommended the red snapper fillet for mains. And her advice was spot-on. The gorgeous crust of ginger, onion and garlic was simple but incredibly tasty, the fish was fresher than the Prince of Bel Air and the colours on the plate assaulted the senses … in the best possible sense of the phrase! Andy chose “El Duc’s Duck” – and 90s Disney film fans will be happy to know that this duck (organically raised in Cam Kim) was all kinds of mighty. Marinated for 8 hours and served on a bed of crunchy deliciousness, it was all I could do to not lick the plate. (Sorry, Andy!)
Topped off with the “Godfather Part 2” – espresso over vanilla ice-cream served with amaretto (FYI: Part 1 is sans amaretto) and a serving of “Eastern Fortune” – a fun take on a fortune cookie, with crispy wonton, fried banana, chocolate and coconut butter, we were stuffed to the gills and mildly dazed about the entire experience.
Mango Rooms provides a feast in every sense: a feast of colours, of flavours, of music and of joviality. It’s a place where “that holiday feeling” reigns supreme. So whether you’re living in Hoi An or just passing through, why not embrace the holiday vibe? Ok, it’s pretty pricey but if you want to try something different, or to enjoy a night out with great food and super-friendly service, you can’t go wrong here.
For More on Mango Rooms see MANGO ROOMS: A HOI AN CULINARY HIGHLIGHT