What do you get when a Russian decides to open an American themed bar and restaurant on Phuket, Thailand? Jonny Mango’s, of course!
The sun was just beginning to fall back into the seething ocean when we walked into the restaurant, ready to enjoy Mom’s last dinner with us for a while. She will be leaving to spend three weeks in the U.S. tomorrow. As a special treat, Dad took us out to dinner.
Wooden tables and chairs crowded the dining area, and flashing neon lights danced, their colors brightening the coming night.
We were seated by Ilyia, our Russian neighbor, also the owner of the bar. He handed us menus, and then rushed to the kitchens to alert the chef. I flipped through my menu carefully. Jonny Mango’s has a wide selection of foods, from local Thai dishes to imported western foods. It’s one of the few places you can count on getting an excellent burger with fries. Even better, the prices are reasonable, if not dirt cheap!
Ilyia came running back out to take our order (that man seems to go everywhere at a run) and eagerly scribbled down our requests. He jogged back to the kitchens, and I leaned against the rough wooden back of my seat, relaxing. Night had fallen completely now, and the stars shone above me. My brothers eagerly discussed the fine points of British bike races with Dad, and Mom, like myself, was quietly listening.
Suddenly, we looked up at eachother at the same time, and burst into laughter.
Dad glanced at us quizzically. “What?” Mom shook her head helplessly. “Listen! Don’t you hear it?” After a moment, he began to laugh as well. Where else in the world can you be served by a kind Russian man, on a tropical island, with a country version of Jingle Bells twanging away in the background, in the middle of September?
Our food came, after some slight confusion.
As it turns out, the restaurant is brand new, and Ilyia is just training the chef. I had ordered one of my favorites: chicken with cashew nut, and steamed rice. I grinned, and offered Ezra a “bean.” Long ago, back in Guatemala, he was offered a “bean” by our fun-loving gardener. When he bit into it, he discovered it was in fact one of the hottest peppers found in that part of the world. Red faced, with tears streaming down his cheeks, he gulped water for hours. Now, he only winks, and dares me to try it. He’s wiser now. I however, am not. I pop the green pepper in my mouth and chew it. No problem, it’s not even spicy!
Ezra is somewhat disappointed, and dares me to try the red one. I’ve never been able to turn down a dare, unless it’s life threatening. Besides, if the green one was mild, the red one can’t be much worse! The red pepper follows the green one, crunching pleasantly over my tongue. Within a few seconds I’m crying like a baby. Sweat pours from my forehead, and it feels as if a thousand knives are lancing the inside of my mouth. Ezra is laughing so hard, I believe he might pass out. Maybe this dare was life threatening after all!
After drinking two bottles of ice water and consuming an entire plate of rice, my mouth is back to a state of relative normal. We pay the bill, bid Ilyia farewell, and head home. Our last dinner with Mom was a success. I would highly recommend Jonny Mango’s to anyone traveling through Nai Yang, Phuket!