Please could you tell us a little bit about the Southern food festival of Roi Jung Hoo which inspired your menu this November at Mango Tree JBR?
‘Roi Jung Hoo’ is the southern dialect way of saying ‘delicious’ – inspiration came from the idea to immerse our chefs in Thai culture so that they could become the best possible Thai ambassadors for us and also be inspired themselves from the experience – the idea behind the new menu was also inspired by the fact that after 16 years in Thailand and travelling to every part of the country I really want people to explore and taste more than pad thai, tom yum and green curry – there are over 500-600 dishes in Thai cuisine and most people only try around 20. Also, when I do get people to try new dishes the smiles of delight I see drives my passion and fuels me to discover more and share more and more with people.
What dishes and flavours can diners expect on the new menu?
Expect lots of umami – this is because shrimp paste is a key ingredient in southern food along with coconut milk and meat, and fresh turmeric which makes southern food unique and incredibly flavourful. Because the South is enclosed on two sides by the sea, the menu is primarily seafood. Overall Southern Thai food is very impactful on your palate while being a little bit spicier than other regions but all within the balance of each dish.
Please can you tell us about the Mango Tree project that took place in Surat Thani and Nakorn Sri Thammarat this July?
The trip was part of our annual chef development programme which we have for our franchisees in which their chefs come to Bangkok to develop and learn new dishes each year. Last year we changed it a bit and took them to learn more about regional food to the north-east area of Thailand – this year we went to the south. So, one part is learning new ingredients, learning how to cook the dishes from the locals and then how to reproduce it in a restaurant setting. But we also wanted to make it about sustainability and about how Thai chefs use the land and use every item of the food when making something and also, this year, in the south, it was about the fisherman’s way of life; how they ensure the sustainability of the fish by throwing back females so they can reproduce. A focus of the trip this year was also about community-based tourism which looked at how tourism projects can benefit entire communities rather than just individual people.
What can diners expect from Mango Tree in 2020?
Well, next year chef’s trip is to Chaing Mai (in the north) so another look at a totally different region with new flavours. There will be a chance to win a trip to Thailand, we will launch a new menu in February, and you may even see insects such as crickets on the menu since we have seen there is a demand. Overall, we will just keep pushing the boundaries and introducing more new things to consumers in Dubai.
This November Mango Tree Thai Bistro JBR is offering a special price set menu for two of their Roi Jung Hoo menu, or diners are welcome to order from the restaurant’s a la carte menu too. For more information, visit facebook.com/MangoTreeJBR for more information