- Matthew Schniper
- We would return again and again for Mangosteen's fresh take on fast-casual Thai.
You need Khao Soi in your life.
I know this, because ever since the Chiang Mai-born coconut-curry noodle soup has come into mine, I’ve been haunted. Obsessed, if I’d allowed myself to drive to Mangosteen Thai Street Food every time I’ve thought about the dish. Good thing it’s way across town from me. So I’ll just proselytize from on high on my keyboard. This is the way, friends. Follow.
The Khao Soi bowl shines all shades of yellow save for a pop of cilantro and red onion garnish. Soft submerged egg noodles are pasta pale, and topping crispy noodles, basically cut-up wonton strips, hold a flaxen hue. The soup, not a far cry from Massaman curry, looks lemony and golden, staining slices of chicken breast. Incorporated into the coconut milk broth via a signature paste are a yellow curry base, house-ground and -roasted chiles, onions, garlic, shallots, tamarind and pickled mustard greens. Are you following me? Can you almost taste the depth? Sourness swirling around in spice with floral edges, creaminess and richness and soft chew plus crunch and sharp bite. What a symphony, a revelation.
I’ll be hard-pressed to order anything else at Mangosteen, which is sad because other plates offer plenty of appeal. At an early tasting in mid-September, just ahead of opening, owner Jasmine Andrew sampled us through both familiar Thai fare and rare or exclusive-to-town items. She has operated her original Rockrimmon-area NaRai Thai Restaurant since 2008 and the Cheyenne Mountain-area NaRai Siam Cuisine since 2014. With Mangosteen, she wanted to shake things up with a fast counter-service model — she even has plans for a drive-thru — catering to busy folks.
But she tells us she also wanted items not served at her other spots or common elsewhere in town.
This former Taco Bueno is unrecognizable save for the layout. Warm tones have been replaced with cool, eggplant- (or mangosteen fruit skin-) colored upholstery on seating, and dark wood flooring and tables lead up to a modern black-and-white-tiled open kitchen. Many diners will reach for the old standbys like Pad Thai or green curry chicken — dishes are pre-prepared so you have to adjust for heat level at the table with provided chile sauce and powders — because Andrew did leave a few of the most popular items in place.
But we strongly recommend her variant of NaRai’s sensational, basil-perfumed red curry kabocha squash, wherein the Japanese pumpkin cubes practically melt in the mouth but spicy shrimp join the medley, also bringing seafood notes to the velvety broth. Or fish-n-chip-like, thick tempura-battered catfish pieces under a shredded green mango relish, light for a fried dish, pretty fish-forward and surprisingly crisp considering being held at temp for a time.
We cannot recommend cloying and bubblegum-smelling citrus hibiscus orange or agave vanilla cream Stubborn Sodas at the fountain, though the kids with us sure like the stuff. For our sugar finish, we instead prefer the creative return of kabocha squash as a component of a boba and tapioca pearl coconut milk pudding sweetened with palm sugar, which gifts a unique smoky essence.
That’s one of the little touches that sets Mangosteen apart, as if you need any more reasons than the Khao Soi to go.