Located by SouthBank arts centre, Sticky Mango is situated on a traditional London street amidst a series of gorgeous Victorian buildings. The 40-year stalwart was previously a French brasserie before adopting an Asian-influenced menu. In the 1950s, the building served as a stable, which you can sense from the arched and low ceilings of the basement area set to be transformed into a bar, lounge and events space in the near future.
Our waiter, Giovanni, informed us of these exciting plans as we wafted in and around various parts of the restaurant, including the terrace. Modest in size, the intimacy of the layout is comforting and ideal for London’s balmier nights.
The wooden beams and low lighting make the upstairs dining area feel soothing and relaxed despite the buzzing ambience—which was significantly busier than you’d assume for a regular Wednesday night.
We opted for the eight-course sharing menu made up of an array of fish and meat options. The Thai green mango salad, black pepper prawns and Malaysian chicken curry puffs were served on separate dishes in one flourish. Giovanni advised us to start with the puffs, which were light on the stomach, followed by the prawns and salad. The pepper prawns, which had a slight tang, were served with dehydrated pineapple and went down a treat as a pair. The pineapple somehow manages to calm the spice without getting rid of its initial kick. The salad then comes last to cleanse the palate, as personally recommended by Giovanni.
A food break might be necessary at this point, though we kept going—swigging sips of Sancerre. Next came the wok fried monkfish and tender stem broccoli, again as separate dishes followed by mamak chicken soaked in BBQ and truffle egg fried rice mixed with leeks and a subtle truffle paste. Though a tasting menu, these aren’t measly portions, made to share with an acquaintance who enjoys a variety of spices and flavours.
Then we had a break with the additional yet-to-be-named cocktail, a Vietnamese Martini concoction designed by Giovanni and his team. Part of the fun involves whisking the cocktail and watching it transform—though I will confess that the traditional Vietnamese condensed milk dominates the three shots of vodka which can be lethal. It’s sweet, so one is enough, especially when coupled with the eponymous sticky mango served with black sticky rice and mango sorbet.
My dining partner wasn’t so keen on the pandan macaron, which comes with soy sauce and caramel ice cream, so I willingly gobbled it down. The dessert is served like a bountiful green sandwich, so it’s best to eat it this way, and the ice cream acts as a buffer for its overt sweetness that could potentially become sickly if consumed in haste. In plain terms: take your time and, retrospectively, set a slow to medium tempo for a memorable meal.