Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Fallout

Joey and I were looking for something a little novel and dangerous. It had been a while since our last hankering for anything South East Asian, and Mango King’s washed out, faded, regal sign and frosted windows seemed just divey enough to satiate all our unprincipled peptic passions. There we were, imagining our good time: dilapidated tables, peeling paint, stained ceilings, steam rising from the kitchen, clucking voices floating to our ears. Boy were we wrong. An unfortunately clean, conventional dining hall greeted us. Contrived decoration embellished the room with pastoral landscape paintings, sleek tables and chairs, lumbered trims, faux rock splash backs, a bar with an array of alcohol, a chandelier, and clashing multi-coloured buttercup light fixtures. The only danger may have been the commonplace spread that made it so inviting to so many gregarious eaters. Not Joey and I, though. We were looking for lunch on the cheap, and boy did we find it, with lunch specials that were even cheaper. That may be Mango King’s only selling point, because beyond its more than affordable pricings lay a menu burdened with a miscellany of Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese cuisine. There was nothing really spectacular about any of it, except for maybe the crab meat fish maw soup, which is a fancy word for fish lungs (or bladder depending on how you look at it). But I’m saying this all too hermeneutically, with a little too much perspective. I’ll slow down. 

Lunch specials are always a good thing, because you’re usually spoiled with a huge portion and a little something else. Mango King is no exception. Mine was the beef pad thai with tom yum soup and spring roll. Having spent a good deal of my youth working in the Thai restaurant, I’ve come to expect a little sternness with shelling out a decent lunch combination, so I expected some finesse; and while my order was a visually appealing spread of nuclear orange noodles on an enormously satired white plate- perfect for the haute cuisine world, I couldn’t help but be grossly disappointed with my food.

The tom yum, a spiritless bowl of sweet, sour, salty soup any kid could make at home, stocked with four boring button mushrooms, half a cherry tomato and the stalks- not the leaves- of cilantro had me a little heartbroken, but half expecting it.

The spring roll, though nicely coloured with a crispy exterior, was a muck of gluey insides that I thought could have used a little more time in the fryer. And the dipping sauce, a mere syrup with vinegar, could have had a little more punch.

But the pad thai, the star of the dish, was the biggest disappointment. An unappealing glowing orange mound of piled noodles with unhelpful smatterings of peanuts and cilantro leaves contributed to the dish’s very bland flavour. What little taste that did exist slowly disappeared the more I ate, and the incensed aroma that plumed off of it reminded me of the mysterious smoky character we associate with all that Chinese-Canadian food. Still, all it did was turn me off. Any vibrant, bright taste elements I usually associated with Thai Viet cuisine weren’t there. Unfortunately, a place that now defines itself as Thai Viet Chinese cuisine can’t differentiate from the multitude of dishes it offers, which is a shame, because everything seemed to have tasted the same. 

I ordered an appetizer of chicken wings afterwards for the sake of experiment. They were nothing more than another commonplace dish of deep fried chicken wings with an obligatory serving of overly sweet chili sauce. Nothing magical, nothing new, stuff all too familiar. So much for novelty. So much for danger. 

Mango King 
2480 Homer Watson Blvd 
Kitchener, ON 
N2P 2R5 

(519) 896-8188 

MON-THU 11:00am - 10:00pm 
FRI-SAT 11:00am - 11:00pm 
SUN 11:00am - 10:00pm 


Mango King on Urbanspoon

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