Review: Mantra Thai, Forth Banks, Newcastle
For a welcome as warm as Thailand itself, Mantra Thai is always a safe bet.
Service with a smile certainly seems to be the mantra here and it’s one that’s led me to visit this eatery time and time again.
Newcastle is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to restaurants, but the consistent reliability of Mantra Thai made it our first choice for a pre-gig meal.
It’s also handily placed half way between Central Station and the arena, which makes it perfect for a pit stop. For drivers, its location tucked down Forth Banks also means it has its own car park, something of a luxury for a city centre restaurant.
Its pagoda roof is not something you’d expect to find in this post-industrial corner of the city with its high rise office blocks, but it’s a gentle reminder that this a place which is proud of its Far East flavours.
Inside, the interior is sleek and stylish, all muted colours and Thai-inspired fretwork.
The menu follows suit and offers a broad selection of authentic Thai dishes, ranging from the obligatory pad Thai (£10.95) to more off-the-beaten-track options such as two sister fish, a dish of two halves featuring salmon fillet in a curry sauce and a contrasting, lighter sea bass fillet, which is the priciest option you’ll find on the menu at £19.95.
Thai food lends itself well to vegetarian diners and they’ll find themselves well-catered for here with a large section of meat-free options.
I’m unashamedly carnivorous, but the veggie options sounded so good I chose one to start.
The BBQ tofu skewers (£7.55) were a portion large enough to serve as a light main, four large skewers rammed with tofu and veg.
The former can be a bland option, but this soy bean curd had been beautifully marinated on the BBQ grill and was satisfyingly springy. The addition of pineapple with the vegetables added some zing to the proceedings and worked well with the rich spice of the tamarind sauce.
My meat-free meal didn’t last for long though: for mains I chose the grilled king prawns and mango salad (£11.95).
That blend of seafood / meat and fruit is something Thai dishes do so well and this was no exception.
I was served a heaped bowl of salad, brimming with shredded sour mango, shallots, cashew nuts for some crunch and chillies in a sweet lime and palm sugar sauce, punctuated with plump prawns.
It was a much lighter alternative to the heavier curry options with their rich coconut milk-based sauces, but still filled me up enough for a night on the tiles. That didn’t stop me eying up my friend’s meatier choice of duck in a luscious tamarind sauce (£14.95), however. That’s the choice for my next visit sorted.
Service, as always, was attentive but not too in-your-face, a fine line to tread but one Mantra Thai has mastered to a tee.