Since the Olympics have started there has been a huge focus on the best places to eat in London. Time Out London recently did a best dishes feature and listed Mandalay, a Burmese restaurant on Edgware Road, as having one of the best one-bowl dishes the city has to offer. Time Out also boasted that Mandalay is the only Burmese in London. I was intrigued by the idea of a mix between Indian and Thai food, and just finished reading a book about Burma, so I dragged Chuck to try it out one night. We called ahead just in case and arrived to a small restaurant crowded with plastic tablecloth laden tables. Looking good.
It took a little while for the waitress to come and take our order, but I think that may be because they were still preparing for the night when we arrived at 6:30. Time Out recommended the khow suey, which is a coconut curry dish with noodles. I ordered it with prawns. We started with bean sprout and prawn fritters, and Charlie ordered country style lamb for his main with a side of coconut rice.
They made the bean sprout fritter into two pieces for us to share, and it was served with a few sauces including something sweet, soy, and a hot sauce I recognized from a Heinz bottle in Thailand. The shrimp in the fritter were small but the combo was not too bready overall. Just not anything super exciting.
Our mains came and the first thing I thought was that the lamb portion was really small. The noodle dish was bigger, but I was not impressed overall. The soup had an overpowering spicy coconut flavor which was tasty, but I was really expecting to be blown away with depth and a larger variety of ingredients after Time Out's review. The noodles themselves were undescript egg noodles of the supermarket variety, and they were quite gummy, maybe overcooked. There were maybe four good sized shrimp, and the dish was topped with crackly dried rice noodles. Charlie's lamb was nice but, again, just very coconutty. We both enjoyed the rice.
We weren't totally displeased, but neither of us could really see a reason why Time Out has raved about this placed time after time. It wasn't even that cheap. Maybe we are just too used to the depth of flavor in Thai food, or maybe we just didn't try the right dishes. I just wish it was better.
Time Out's piece also includes Tayyab's for grilled meat, Burger and Lobster for seafood, Koya for one-bowl and Banh Mi11 for street food, all of which I can attest are delicious.
Mandalay: 444 Edgware Road, London W2 1EG. 020 7258 3696