The best places for sticky rice with mango (during mango season) in Santa ClaritaSean Malin June 4, 2019 0 COMMENTS
Sticky rice and mango, like peanut butter and jelly or Sting and Shaggy, is an unexpectedly perfect combination of tastes. Between the bright gummy chew of sweet rice and the swollen pulpy chunk of a perfect stone fruit, no dish is better suited to mid-spring, nor more specific to it. That is in large part because, as many species of mango reach peak availability in California between March and May, Santa Clarita’s Thai restaurants begin serving it for that brief, beautiful period before summer fully swells.
As with any seasonal delicacy, however, not all sticky rice with mango is made equal: to hit demand, some businesses use unripe fruit, which leaves in the mouth a waxy, resinous aftertaste; others steam the rice in massive batches and wait too long to serve it, the grains stiffening in the meantime. The restaurants highlighted here are more diligent with their glutinous desserts, and therefore more reliable for a good after-dinner treat. Several opt for simplicity in their recipes, while others present quietly adventurous variations on traditional preparations, but all are experts in their craft. Together, these businesses offer the best sticky rice with mango in the Santa Clarita Valley – until Spring ends, at least.
Is Thai Chefs the best Thai restaurant in Santa Clarita? Maybe. Is it the smallest? Most definitely. This Saugus countertop bistro barely seats 25 people, at least in part because its booths are decked out with fluffy pillows. The eccentric décor is something of a mystery, but don’t be led astray by this corner lot’s fancy look: the dishes are “made by real Thai chefs”, and it shows. Thai Chefs’ $8.99 sweet sticky rice with mango – a touch more expensive than usual, like everything here – is among the valley’s worthiest desserts. Still, if the price is not right for you, sweet rice sans fruit is only $5.99, and no less delicious.
28014 Seco Canyon Rd. (661) 513-0350.
Last year, The Proclaimer included this local favorite on its list of 10 Best Restaurants in the Santa Clarita Valley despite its uncertain future. Thankfully, we can now report that little has changed under new management. Mom Can Cook remains one of this city’s most reliable Thai spots, a culinary haven for adventurous eaters in a world of more milquetoast fare. Case in point: its deceivingly simple sticky rice with mango slices. Here, the plate is sprinkled with toasted black sesame seeds and briefly warmed in a shallow bath of coconut milk, releasing in one fell swoop flavors tart, charred, creamy and pasty.
19359 Soledad Canyon Rd. (661) 251-8103.
On the occasions where even the thought of sweet sticky rice cannot get me off the couch, I tend to rely on this underrated Canyon Country kitchen to bring it to me. Wanya, smartly, has leaned into its reputation as the go-to Thai place for the DoorDash generation. It would be enough simply for its delivery service to be free (and it is, within a few miles), but Wanya is also impeccable in its dedication to handsomely-plated food, even if that plate is made of Styrofoam. In the dozens of times a server has arrived at my home with a bag full of goods, never has my sticky rice with mango ($8.99) arrived chilled or stiff. A record that extraordinary cannot be denied.
16507 Soledad Canyon Rd. (661) 251-8544.
Of all the dessert recipes for on this list, Aroma Thai’s is the most daring. Consider that its rice and mango dish even has an untraditional name: Sweet Rice AND Mango, the better to differentiate itself from SCV’s other Thai restaurants. Aroma’s rice comes drenched in sweetened cream and garnished with diced fruits, the mango separated from it by a bough of mint leaves. The result is an uncommon swirl of delights that, at $7.00, rivals any of its Santa Claritan peers in value. Don’t let its seasonal availability keep you from visiting come autumn: Aroma’s Fried Banana with Ice Cream dish (also $7) and sweet crispy wontons ($4.50) are also exceptional.
27125 Sierra Hwy. (661) 367-4995.
Pity Ing Doi, whose strip-mall location between two regional staples – La Cocina and Vincenzo’s Pizza – has left it unfortunately ignored by the general dining community. It is true that from the outside (and on its 2004-era website), Ing Doi doesn’t look like much. Yet its Chef’s Specials – Ga Pow Scallop, lemon grass-marinated mussels – tell a different story: one of conscientiousness, cleverness and care in the kitchen. Even its house-made sticky rice is available as a side dish for $4.95, an unusual, sweet appetizer before the savory. Alas, good as the rice is, it’s the mango (at $3 extra) that makes the dish truly special.
28072 Bouquet Canyon Rd. (661) 263-9888.
“If music be the fruit of love,” quoth Shakespeare, but what if fruit is actually the fruit of love? That may sound like nonsense until you try the sticky rice with mango at Jasmine Thai Noodle & BBQ, a former Saugus outpost that set up shop on the corner of Soledad and Cinema in 2012. This lovely little diner has its fair share of fans, and for good reason – its menu is designed by the same family that keeps the lights on. Sticky rice purists may be disturbed to hear that Jasmine also offers its mango for dessert (at limited supply) throughout the year. Still, if I had my druthers, Jasmine would remain open indefinitely, doling out precious yellow slices like war rations, seasonality be damned.
23360 Valencia Blvd. (661) 254-2012.