CLOSED: Mango Tree Thai Fusion & Sports Bar (Markham)

Thank you to for a number of these photos
If you visit Mango Tree Thai Fusion & Sports Bar expecting authentic Thai food, you may leave disappointed. Really, their name should be a dead giveaway there’ll be a deviation: there’s a fusion element and Thai restaurants aren’t known to be sports bars. Once you get off the elevators, on the second floor of the commercial building, and walk into the huge dark space, you know authenticity doesn’t matter. With the black walls, colourful mural, large television screen, and huge bar, it seems like it’ll will morph into a club at any moment.

There are certainly “sports bar” offerings on the menu such as obligatory fried chicken wings ($13 a pound) or burger sliders ($12) that get a Thai twist with the tamarind sauce used on them.

Some dishes tread the line between bar and Thai food. The MT spring rolls ($10) filled with a ground beef and pork mixture dotted with finely chopped carrots, onions, and coriander, the denser filling reminding me of Filipino lumpias. Or the coconut milk fried shrimp ($15) where you could really taste the coconut, but the cream they dip the shrimp into before coating the shrimp could be thinned  as the crust was a tad thick. In both instances, the filling and batter would benefit from more seasoning as by themselves the finger foods were plain, but improved with sauce. 

Then, there are dishes you’d expect from a Thai restaurant. The starter tom yum soup ($6) was a large bowl of hot and sour broth teeming with lemongrass and other aromatics. It’s certainly spicy, but not overwhelmingly; the heat balanced off with vegetables like bean sprouts that also add a bit of crunch. Opt for the vegetarian version, as the deep fried tofu is great for soaking up the spicy soup.

The mango salad ($9) takes relatively sweet green mangoes and tosses it in a light shrimp paste for a savoury element. I enjoyed the fried shallots garnishing the salad, which adds a nice earthy crunch.

Of all the mains, the chicken green curry ($14) was perhaps the most authentic tasting and our favourite main of the evening. As a warning, Mango Tree uses dark meat giving the dish a gamier taste. It also contains chunks of eggplant (great for soaking up the liquid) and peppers. If you like it spicier, dig to the bottom as the chopped pepper pieces seems to sink to the bottom of the rich coconut curry.

My friend’s description of Mango Tree is great: it’s like a HK-style Thai restaurant (similar to HK-style Western cafes or cha chan tangs). Essentially, they are Thai dishes but with a Chinese influence. For example, the khao soi ($14) switches out the spicy yellow broth for a milder soup base that has a heavier coconut element. Moreover, the egg noodles are replaced with flat chewy ones that almost have a hand-pulled quality to it. 

To cap the bowl off, a fried pineapple ring that gives the noodles a sweet element. I would have preferred the khao soi spicier; but then the menu, which showed no chili peppers beside the name, was accurately depicting the dish. In retrospect, had I known I would have asked for it to be made at the spicy level - Mango Tree offers customization options for most mains where you choose the protein as well as the spiciness level.

The MT boneless pork chop ($20) didn’t have much of the lemongrass and garlic flavours I expected based on the menu’s description. Rather, the sweet tamarind barbeque sauce flavour was prevalent and sparked the whole HK-style Thai café discussion to begin with – it had that thick sweet and sour sauce flair that’s not unlike the Cantonese style pork chops (except less sugary). Personally, I’d prefer the pork chop thinner to allow the marinate to permeate the meat more and the barbeque glaze toned down to let some of the herb’s flavour shine through.

No meal should end without an order of the Mango Tree sticky rice ($11). It takes time to prepare but the wait is worth it as the sticky rice arrives warm and when combined with cool sweet mangoes and thick coconut cream, I felt momentarily transported to Thailand. Had I known how delicious the dessert would be, I’d skip the appetizers and have an entire order of the sticky rice to end.

Kevin, co-owner of Mango Tree, explains they wanted the restaurant to be different. Of course, they serve food. But, it’s more than that. They want a space where people can visit, hang out, and enjoy each other’s company. Indeed, that seemed to ring true for our visit; while the food arrived quickly, we were left with our mains well after the forks went down so we could just relax and lounge.

We took that opportunity to sip on cocktails, my mango Bellini ($10) went down so easily, a concoction of mango puree with soda water, balanced out with citrus but so fruity that the rum melts away. For a unique drink, the Phulay sunset ($11) sounds like a tropical explosion of orange and pineapple juice with coconut cream, but the addition of ginger gives the cocktail an interesting zip.

The weekend crowd was so varied from a boisterous table of women celebrating an occasion, families, couples, to other groups of friends catching up. A lot of tables stayed for a long time, ordering more bites and drinks to keep the night going. Just like Mango Tree intended.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.

How To Find Them
 Location: Markham, Canada
 Address: 7850 Woodbine Avenue (2nd floor)

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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