Pattaya, Thailand - Pattaya might be known for its vibrant nightlife and beach-town ambience, but recently the city has begun offering a lot more, such as hip hotels, galleries, clubs and upmarket restaurants like the one-year-old fusion eatery Mantra at the Amari Hotel.
Here you may rub shoulders with Bangkok's celebs like couple Paradorn and Natalie Srichapan or Tata Young and her fiance, Prem Bussarakamwong.
Don't let the flashy, red decor make you think that only Chinese food is available here. At Mantra you will be enchanted by the fusion of Eastern and Western cuisine.
On the menu are Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Thai, Mediterranean and Western items. While dining on the ground floor, you can observe the open kitchen and see how the dishes from around the world are created at each station, with chopping, rolling, dicing and frying before it is served before your eyes.
The signature East Meets West set meals, offering richly varied fare, consist of a starter, soup, main course and dessert and cost from Bt1,800 to Bt2,500. To warm up your appetite, an array of starters is offered - sushi and sashimi platter, grilled sirloin salad, deep-fried prawns with sweet horseradish sauce, salmon dumplings or a platter with savoury BBQ. For the soup, you can choose between Mediterranean seafood, lobster bisque and double-boiled venison broth with Chinese herbs.
For the real deal of the evening, a variety of meats and fish is available, including tender lamb loin medallions with honey and peppercorn sauce or home-made tagliatelle with veal ragout, and boneless chicken tikka. If you like fish, Mantra has different recipes for you, including grouper wok-fried and smeared with XO sauce, and snow fish steamed with soy sauce or served with kale.
Also available is tandoori Boston lobster marinated in yoghurt and garlic sauce, grilled lobster, fried rice with seafood and fried rice with shrimp roe.
For dessert, you can calm your stomach with Thai-style baked mango with vanilla infused rice and coconut ice cream, yoghurt mousse cake served with white chocolate and mango sauce, and apple tart with vanilla ice cream.
A la Carte items are also available if you feel like compiling your own set. Recommended are the chef's Indian tandoori platter for two (Bt1,000), Mantra seafood sampler platter for two (Bt2,500), steamed fillet snow fish and baked grouper (Bt1,000), Kobe beef tenderloin and goose liver (Bt6,000) and baked lobster with cheese (Bt450 per 1,000 grams).
After your meal, diners who want to chill out, can check out the hip bar - styled like a Chinese opium house with a wide selection of drinks, especially wines. Mantra's wine cellar is packed with fine bottles, including many chardonnay, Outback Chase, Beringer "Stone Cellas" 2004 and Vidal.
For red wine, the list includes Lazo, Spanish Chateau Cadillac Branda, Villa Mt Eden, Roija, Faustino VII and many others. Local and imported beers, and a range of cocktails are also served. Refreshing and tasty mocktails and shakes are also available for non-drinkers.
Mantra Restaurant and Bar
Amari Orchid Resort and Tower Pattaya Beach Road, North Pattaya
Daily 6pm to 1am (bar opens at 5pm); Sunday Brunch from 11am to 3pm
(038) 429 591