Mendocino Farms Launches a New Thai Salad

I always enjoyed heading to any of Mendocino Farm’s locations throughout the Bay Area. When I’m heading up North, I even stop at their Sacramento location from time to time. I usually order either their sandwiches or their healthy bowls. I like their salads, but it’s often too much lettuce for me. Last month, though, Mendocino farms launched a new Thai mango chicken salad that I absolutely love.

I first learned about the new Thai mango salad while hanging around at City Center Bishop Ranch, which I tend to do a lot. Mendocino farms doesn’t add to its menu too often, but on this visit, I saw a sign outside their San Ramon, California store advertising the new Thai mango chicken salad. I always enjoy Thai food, so I knew I’d have to check it out.

Thai mango chicken salad at Mendocino Farms

What’s in the Thai Mango Chicken Salad

I came back a few days later and got the salad. According to Mendocino farms, the salad combines “a perfect harmony of sweet, salty, sour and spicy” flavors. On their website, Mendocino goes into more detail, saying that to make it, “We toss chopped crispy romaine, baby spinach, shredded cabbage, and pickled daikon & carrots with chilled ramen noodles for the base.”

From that base, Mendocino farms adds “A Thai almond dressing that is creamy, nutty, umami, sweet, sour, salty, and a little spicy.” That gets some of the Thai flavors involved, but Mendocino takes it a bit farther with some classic Thai ingredients. In their words, “We hand tear fresh mint leaves, fresh cilantro, and fresh Thai basil and toss that in to create depth by adding aromatics (high notes).” Finally, they “pile on sliced, roasted chicken breast, chunks of fresh, juicy mango, crispy fried shallots, crunchy honey roasted almonds, and fresh lime.

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That’s a lot of awesome flavors in one salad, and a ton of different ingredients.

My Thoughts on the Salad

So, how does it taste? Delicious. All those Thai flavors definitely come through in the Thai mango salad. You can especially taste quintessentially Thai ingredients like the lime leaves and mint. You don’t get those so often in other cuisines, and they really serve to enhance the salad. The whole thing is grounded by the dressing, which has a hint of the kind of Thai peanut sauce you’d pour over chicken satay, but it also a bit more sour.

The salad is huge–in my opinion, a little too huge. I think I would feel sick if I ate the whole thing in one sitting. I split it, and it was still plenty of food, especially with all that thick and creamy dressing on top. Speaking of which, although I like the dressing, I didn’t feel like there was quite enough, relative to the mountain of other ingredients on the plate. I asked for a second helping of dressing, and that helped a lot. I would suggest doing the same if you order the Thai mango salad. Overall, I wish Mendocino Farms would offer a half-salad option since I’d love to have this salad with a soup or another of their sides (maybe the curried couscous).

The mango chunks provided a nice hint of sweetness to the salad, although really the dressing was the star. I also liked the cold ramen noodles. These add an element of classic Thai cold sesame noodles. You’re getting a lot of Thai influences on one plate here.

At the moment, the Thai mango salad is a limited-time item, so check it out soon if you want to be sure you can try it. Hopefully, Mendocino farms will add it to their permanent menu. They did that with Mrs. Goldfarb’s Ruben, much to my delight, so it’s certainly possible!

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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