Asian cuisine at Mango Garden in San Jose, CA

I had recently written about our first (but definitely not the last) visit to Cicero’s Pizza in San Jose, CA. When we were parking our car during that visit, we happened to glance over and notice a new Asian place called Mango Garden in the same complex. We debated if we should go there before voting for pizza.

I am a big fan of Malaysian food because it blends Indian spices with oriental elements and offers an interesting platter for the discerning foodie. Banana Leaf in Milpitas is a place I like but hesitate to visit because of its ever crowded nature. So when I spotted a Malaysian place not too far from my work and house, I was waiting to try it out. Well, that date happened to be last Friday (16 hours after I first spotted it :)). Long story short, I liked the place enough to go back two days later for a weekend lunch in leisure. This review is from both my trips to Mango Garden.

Mango Garden calls itself a mix of Singaporean, Malaysian and Thai cuisines. This would usually be a big warning flag because restaurants seldom deliver the goods on one cuisine let alone 3 of them. Would Mango Garden be no different or an exception to the rule?.

The First Time

The first time to a restaurant is very critical for someone like me. I am a big recommending type. If I like something, I tell everyone who is willing to hear. Often times that has resulted in very many friends making a trip or many trips to such restaurants. I was hoping Mango Garden would offer me a quick Malaysian fix if I didnt feel like waiting at Layang Layang or Banana Leaf.

We were four of us on a busy Friday afternoon at Mango Garden. The place was full and folks were waiting outside. It took them 15 minutes to get us seated. Once seated, we placed our orders pretty quickly. While we waited for our appetizer, Roti Prata, we were surprised to see a place of vegetarian egg rolls at our table, complimentary of the restaurant for the wait. Our food started arriving pretty soon. I had ordered two salads- one plate of vegetarian gado-gado salad and one of the papaya salad. The one other vegetarian in the group ordered green curry.

The salads arrived first followed by the green curry. The gado-gado salad was very tasty and a joy to eat. The papaya salad was too vinegary for my taste but still good enough to be consumed fully. One of the non-vegetarian dishes took a while to arrive and when it did, the waitress profusely apologized for the delay. The manager stopped by to apologize in person. When we were done, a complimentary dessert arrived at our table for the delay. I was impressed not just with the food but the courtesy extended by the management to us. The food was good enough for me to think of a second trip.

The Second Time

I did not have to wait very long for my second trip to the place. Two days later, five of us went to Mango Garden for a weekend lunch. We got seated relatively quickly. We were famished. We ordered an order of the egg rolls for the adults and one plate of roti prata for the little guy to get started. The food arrived pretty quickly and we dived right in. Soon after our entrees started arriving in short order. We had ordered gado-gado salad, mango delight, green curry vegetable, vegetarian hokkien mee, and vegetarian Indian mee goreng. The gado-gado salad was liked by all. I had ordered them mango delight without any spice as I wanted to share it with my son. As a result, the dish arrived relatively bland for me. The presentation was great. I hope to order it with spice next time. The green curry vegetable was pretty good and tasty. The vegetarian hokkien mee was a little disappointing. The soy sauce overpowered everything else in the dish. Addition of any sauce could not fix it. On the other extreme, the Indian vegetarian mee goreng was hands down the best dish we ordered. It was spiced just right and the favorite for everyone on the table.

The food portions are generous and we finally made our way through all of it when a plate of vegetarian pineapple fried rice arrived, complements of the restaurant. We were so full yet pleased. We sampled the dish and liked it very much. We packed most of it to go for dinner. We skipped ordering dessert only to be offered a shared plate of shaved mango ice on the house.

One thing about the service was that inspite of the crowded time of the day we visited, we had the manager pay attention to us many times over. The waiters and waitresses did a fabulous job checking on us multiple times and communicating with us on what we wanted and got delivered.

Overall, the food was definitely tasty and well appreciated by everyone. We dont expect to get complementary dishes every time we go in. But the service was a standout and if they were doing it to impress us and promote word of mouth, they definitely succeeded in the short term. I am recommending friends who live nearby to give the place a shot.

Rating:

 Ambiance: 8.75/10. Pleasant and inviting without being unique.

Service: 9.25/10. I would have given them a higher number if it were not for the delay in bringing one of our entrees the first time. Otherwise, some of the best personal attention and service we have had in a while.

Food: 8.5/10. I liked pretty much most of what I tried. Some dishes were great. Others, good.

Price: 8.25/10. On par with similar Asian places in the South Bay.

Restroom: 8.75/10. Clean and usable.

Overall: 8.75/10. We liked the place quite a bit. Good food, great service and relatively affordable Asian food make this place worth atleast one more visit.