The residents of Norwood Junction are lucky indeed to have such a good local Thai restaurant. Mantanah may look unassuming from the outside, but its food is nothing like the watered-down western version of Thai cookery you often find in London. A northern dish of shredded chicken and banana blossom in coconut sauce was a riot of sour, sweet and fiery flavours.
There are plenty of other regional treats to choose from too: the likes of southern red chicken curry with fresh coconut meat; esarn som tam papaya salad with salted crab or dried shrimps; and fiercely hot northern jungle curry. The northern ‘Highland Tribe’ pork curry with peanuts and pickled garlic is a must-try. The kitchen doesn’t skimp on the chilli, but is happy to accommodate more sensitive palates – just let your waitress know.
There’s a traditional feel to a meal here: food is served on blue and white plates, Thai embroidery adorns the walls, and the customary pictures of the Thai king and queen are in pride of place. Dressed in traditional silk outfits, the waitresses are understated and charming. Mantanah also does a roaring trade in takeaways.