Off the main restaurant at Mantra Thai in Newcastle, lies a fine-dining hidden gem. In a secluded room, guests can take a culinary journey to Thailand – for significantly cheaper than the flights would cost.

Mantra Thai, located on Forth Banks in the heart of Newcastle, is already a staple for foodies in the city, with thousands of glowing Tripadvisor reviews recommending the restaurant’s authentic dishes.

But not content with ‘just’ a hugely successful authentic restaurant, Mantra Thai owner Jeanb Prapunwong wanted to bring more of his birth place’s rich culinary culture to the city. Alongside his team, he's crafted  an eight-course ‘Journey to Thailand’ tasting menu to take guests all over the Indochinese Peninsula.

Classily dimmed lights, plush velvet chairs and paintings depicting gilded Thai temples - the whole experience oozes an upmarket feel, and that’s before the food even arrives.

Each dish on the eight-course menu has been thoughtfully curated to showcase the distinct regional influences and culinary heritage that define Thai cuisine. 

With a combined 30 years of experience, Mantra Thai’s expert chefs have crafted the menu to celebrate traditional Thai ingredients and cooking techniques that have yet to make it to BBC Good Food.

The meal starts with a Tom Kha Hua Hin seafood bisque, the lesser-known but equally delicious sister of Tom Yum soup. It's creamy and rich, and topped with a huge scallop, without being too heavy for this early in the meal.

The second starter adds a little more spice – the Samui sunrise salmon, reminiscent of sashimi, is seasoned with a green chilli and lime sauce packs a bit of a kick, and the delicious sauce could be likened to a green salsa.

Moving onto the mains – there are a few standouts, though the first course falls a little short of the mark for a tasting menu.  The Tamarind duck sat on a bed of crispy rice noodles, is tasty but a little anticlimactic – it's not really pushing the boat out (everyone loves a bit of duck!).

But the next dish brought out by Mantra’s attentive staff is a real showstopper. The Pad Kra Prao, a crispy-skinned seabass fillet on a bed of stir-fried saucy, spicy Thai basil, is a highlight of the night.

The Hor Mok, an authentic dish that is totally new to me, can be likened to a steamed omelette or souffle filled with fish curry. Packed with aromatic flavours, like lemongrass and lime leaf, as well as top-quality seafood, it’s the best thing on the menu for me and is set to become a staple of my Thai takeaways

By this point in the night, my appetite is starting to flag – with dishes so delicious, it’s difficult to send anything back on your plate without feeling a bit guilty.

I am feeling pretty full, and hoping someone will roll me back to the train station when the Massaman curry is brought out.

This up-and-coming curry, set to be the next popular Thai dish, a la the green Thai curry craze of the 2010s, is filled with tender lamb, and a uniquely Thai seasoning blend of galangal, lemongrass, and coriander. It’s delectable and will be a favourite of the red-meat-loving dads out there.

The desserts are also something new – in Britain, Thai cuisine is thought of as seafood, duck, curry and noodles – but the often-overlooked puddings are just as good.

The first of two deserts, Khanom Thuai Foi Thong, is made out of rice flour, making it sticky and custardy. Flavoured and coloured with tropical butterfly pea flowers which are known for giving food a natural bright blue hue, and topped with coconut, it's gentle, sweet, and surprisingly light.

The night is rounded off with a pandan pancake – which is like a bright green crepe filled with coconut, is served alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Mantra Thai’s proffering is unique – there isn’t another Thai food tasting menu in Newcastle, or in the whole of the North East.

The tasting menu isn’t cheap at £85 per person for the eight courses (£40 more, if you want the accompanying wine flight), but the quality is excellent, the food fresh, and the service unrivalled.

Rounding off the night, owner Jeab encouraged: “If you can, go to Thailand, if you can’t, come to Mantra Thai.”

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Punnapats Thitiwisarnwong (AiR), Project Manager, said: “We are thrilled to introduce our new eight-course tasting menu, Journey to Thailand.

“At Mantra Thai, we are passionate about sharing the authentic flavours of Thailand with our customers, and this tasting menu is a true reflection of our commitment to excellence in Thai cuisine.” 

For a 15 per cent discount on Mantra Thai’s tasting menu, mention The Northern Echo when dining at the restaurant.