The Mandalay is a rarity in London, a Burmese restaurant. Burmese food is broadly speaking a cross between Chinese and Indian, with a bit of Thai thrown in. My experience of Burmese food is very limited, having never been to Burma (or Myanmar as it used to be known, and likes now to be called), though I have eaten some of the cuisine at a Burmese friend’s house (I can still recall an ultra-spicy fish curry, years later). I had eaten many years ago at a Burmese restaurant called the Mandalay in Greenwich, which later moved to Herne Hill (the owner was a chartered surveyor who eventually went back to that trade). There is in fact no ownership connection between that Mandalay and this Edgware Road Mandalay, which has been trading here since 1994 and is owned by the Ally family.
The dining room is small and sparsely decorated, with red tiled floor, a mirror on one wall and pictures of Burma on the other. The menu had dozens of choices, with the costliest dish just £7.90. There were a handful of wines listed, without growers or vintages, but then wine is hardly a traditional accompaniment to this food. Tiger beer is a modest £2.20 a bottle.
Shrimp fritters (£2.40) arrived as a large portion, with a non-greasy batter and decently cooked (11/20). Red lentil soup (£2.90) was my favourite dish of the night. The soup had a coconut-based stock and the lentils gave a bit of texture, the soup flavoured with fresh coriander (12/20). Chicken with tamarind (£5.90) had chicken that was a little overcooked with a rather bland sauce that had just a hint of tamarind (not quite 11/20 level). Stir-fried shrimps with ginger (£5.90) were disappointing, small and tasteless shrimps with a brown sauce that barely tasted of ginger (10/20).
Potato and spinach (£4.80) was pleasant, the spinach lightly cooked and the potatoes still having some texture, suffused with spices (11/20). Coconut and king prawn noodles (£7.90) had reasonable texture, though the prawns were a little undercooked (11/20). Service was well-meaning, and dishes arrived at a brisk pace. One waiter was helpful and charming, the other barely stirred himself from reading his newspaper. The bill for two was £44 before service, for more food than we could finish, plus beer. Overall, this was an interesting change of cuisine and a pleasant local place; if it was at the end of my road I would return, but it is not really worth a journey. Objectively it is just about worth 11/20 for its overall cooking.