1040 Willow Street
San Jose, CA 95125 | Map
Continuing my focus on out-of-way, unique places, I followed the recommendation of local friends and stopped in at Sweet Mango in the Willow Glen area of San Jose. I wasn’t disappointed in the ambience, the food, or my friends.
Sweet Mango offers something unique – traditional Burmese fare, which blends Thai and Chinese influences and a bit of a tropical flair.
I started with the Tom Yum soup with chicken. It was almost a meal on its own – a large portion that’s so tasty. I felt guilty leaving anything behind in the bowl. The soup is Thai-spicy, balanced with sweet touches and a cooler tinge from the ginger and water crest.
Pairing the soup with another special, I ordered the Fire Cracker Prawns, which were perfectly prepared (far too many restaurants over-cook sea food), although not as spicy as the soup, it had just enough Thai-Burmese touches to make it unique and delicious.
When ordering desert, I recalled my time traveling on the Thailand-Myanmar border. So I ordered the sticky rice with mangoes. It was prepared traditionally, with coconut milk to sweeten the salty rice and sliced ripe mangos.
The menu also lists traditional Burmese dishes like coconut chicken soup, tea leaf salad, and crispy shrimp with banana and potato curry - all of which looked and smelled delicious when ordered by the table next to me. I might make a special trip just to try the homemade mango ice cream.
Sweet Mango has a short but serviceable wine and sake list. I went for the traditional hot sake, which felt more at home with my order than the Chateau St. Michelle, which was my second choice.
The atmosphere is intimate, without the gaudiness of tourist-focused, faux-Chinese restaurants, although a little too harshly lit for my taste. Service was great, with the vibe of being served by a family of attentive daughters, overseen by the owner who greeted guests and visited each table to explain the menu.
If you find yourself in San Jose, Sweet Mango on the edge of downtown in the emerging Willow Glen area definitely is worth a stop. It’s an exceptional neighborhood restaurant and a wonderful alternative to the corporate “be seen” places.