Mango Thai Cuisine & Bar (Seatac, WA)

Before our group headed out to Mt Rainier, we had an introductory dinner to get to know each other. It’s best if we avoided carpooling, and the area around Seatac has an interesting assortment of diners, beer bars, and such that you expect near an airport, as well as a few gems (like the previous review, 13 Coins). With a group that included vegetarians, vegans, spice lovers, and spice haters, there was one obvious choice that easily covers this group, and that was Mango Thai.

I’m a bit picky about my Thai places (especially since my home turf, the Upper Valley of VT/NH, has an implausibly large number of Thai restaurants, which keeps competition pretty fierce), but just walking into Mango Thai, I had good vibes: the ambiance was nice, bright, and colorful, and there was the immediate smell of fresh peppers and cilantro.

As we looked over the lengthy menu and considered appetizers, I tried out one of their house cocktails, the “Sweet Natira” with sake, elderflower, and pomegranate liqueur. A bit sweet, but good.

The first dish I picked was one I don’t usually encounter: a Gra Pao made with Pork Belly. Nicely diced and seared lardons of pork belly served up with a lot of Thai basil, bell pepper, onion, and a fried egg, the star here was definitely the combination of crispy pork and lots of rich Thai basil, although I probably would have liked a bit more spiciness overall.

Our other dish on that visit, we went for the Gang Ped: a duck curry served up with a rich and bold red curry sauce, a bit of pineapple (which melded surprisingly well with the other flavors), tomatoes, and a lot of Thai basil. This was pretty much exactly what I look for in a red curry: nice level of heat, with bold red chile, lemongrass, and keffir notes. The duck was nice and crispy, and the dish nicely composed.

As a rather strong endorsement of Mango Thai, when our group returned from our 6 days of backpacking around Mount Rainier, Mango Thai was pretty much the unanimous choice for our post-trip celebration as well, so we ended up returning a second time. While our dining with Fitpacking was quite good for backpacking food, a week of trail food still had most of us craving some combination of fresh veggies, fresh meat, and spiciness, and this was a great destination for that. We started with some summer rolls, served up vegetarian style with rice noodles, lettuce, cilantro, thai basil, carrot, tofu, and these were the perfect sort of fresh-and-spicy food we were craving, and rather nicely presented as well.

Next, I was seriously craving some heavy duty spice (if anything disappointed me about our first visit, it was that my “spicy” Pork Belly Gra Pao was just moderately spiced), and this time I went for a serious spice bomb with an order of larb gai, ordered extra hot. Ground chicken, red onion, green onion, cilantro, lime, roasted ground rice, this was actually very spicy this time, and quite nicely done: the chicken cooked just to the point of crisping, the onions and ciliantro being crisp and fresh, and all the flavors were bold and bright.

We were also craving wide rice noodles, and the Pad See Ew was just the ticket. Big slices of nicely seared beef, al-dente broccoli, crisped rice noodles, and egg in a nice, rich soy and oyster sauce, this was probably one of my favorite overall dishes of both visits.

So, Mango Thai turned out to be a popular spot with our group, and quite enjoyable. It’s definitely a local gem, and I’ll definitely consider them on future trips through Seatac.

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