This restaurant is currently closed.
A futuristic dining room of blue neon lighting and geometric patterns isn’t the style you would expect of a Chinese restaurant attached to a luxury five-star hotel, and that is why we love the setting of Mandopop Chinese Restaurant in Bangkok.
Too many restaurants hark back to the past when looking for inspiration for their dining room: ming vases, latticed screens, and a colour scheme of red, cream and wood. Thank the designer heavens that Mandopop has come along to prove that a Chinese restaurant can walk on the cutting edge with a glass fronted establishment that looks like a space ship out of a kung fu movie filmed in 2050.
The atmosphere is sophisticated but quite informal, helped by a DJ who plays every night from 19:00 to 21:00; although on weekends the music keeps playing as long as the cocktails are flowing. The music ranges from down tempo melodic tunes to accompany dinner through to funkier, more beat-heavy music for the after dinner crowd – mostly variations of Mandarin pop music. Guests can choose one of two individual set menus, order a la carte or from the classic sets (minimum of eight people).
At first glance, the menu at Mandopop seems fairly typical of a Chinese restaurant: dim-sum, appetisers, soups, mains, desserts. However, once your order arrives it is plain to see that the presentation of the food has been completely reimagined by an experienced and daring head chef. Much like the decor, the food here is shaking off the shackles of history to present hyper-stylised dishes that draw inspiration from French haute cuisine – but it must be stressed that this is not fusion. In terms of taste, recipes stay true to the tastes of Cantonese food, perhaps with some slight additions of chilli to certain dishes suit the Thai palate. Every month Mandopop creates six new culinary creations for guests to enjoy so the menu is always growing and adapting, with a lot of signature dishes not found elsewhere.
Dim sum arrive not in a bamboo basket, but placed neatly on a modish plate. Harbao are noticeably eye catching, with the usual dumpling skin dyed green, not from colouring, but from spinach puree made fresh every day. One of the most pleasing elements of dining at Mandopop is how health conscious they have been in devising a menu that is low in oil, low in salt with all colouring done by pureeing vegetables.
After so much fanfare with the design of the restaurant and the presentation of the food, Mandopop have set the bar very high – perhaps too high – because the taste of the dim sum doesn’t quite reach the impeccable standards of the other elements. The flavours are subtle and certainly more enjoyable than most Cantonese restaurants in Bangkok but somehow lack the depth of taste that can be garnered at the world’s best dim sum restaurants.
This is a theme that runs through the menu to varying degrees. The presentation could not be more imaginative, and it’s such a joyous experience to see how classic dishes have been reimagined, but the taste never quite takes you to that heavenly place where you want to be. The fried cod fish is a delicious appetiser, cooked to perfection with a thick ginger and scallion paste artfully spread on top. The roasted crispy pork gives a delightful crackle when first bitten, but under the crispy skin it was almost all fat and the sweet sauce that was dripped underneath to help presentation was too measly to flavour the meat sufficiently. The hot and sour soup is a definite highlight, packed full of soft tofu, truffle, ginger and shitake mushroom.
The gourmet selection of meat and fish will leave you spoilt for choice with the excellent beef and black pepper paste a great choice for those who want a more familiar Chinese speciality. Scallop noodles are a signature main dish at Mandopop and the one I most wanted to try; thick noodles in the shape of udon, but made entirely out of scallops, with a bowl of superior stock in which to dunk them. The noodle had an interesting texture of fish balls but with the sweeter, more subtle taste of scallops. It was interesting but didn’t hit home the way I half-expected it would.
Am I being picky? Without doubt, but only because Mandopop is such a standout restaurant that it has the potential to be a Michelin-starred restaurant, considering the quality of its decor, service and presentation. Ultimately, Mandopop is ahead of the game in Bangkok for devising a new and innovative style of Chinese cuisine and dinner here is a real treat.
Mandopop Chinese Restaurant
- Opening Hours: Sunday lunch : 11.30 – 14.30, Dinner daily : 17.00 – 24.00
- Location: Ground Floor Oriental Residence, 110 Wireless Road Bangkok