Either the owners of the mangrove cafe have a side business growing orchids or someone who does grow orchids is getting quite rich with all the orders from them because just about every dish was garnished with a beautiful fresh orchid.
I guess you could technically eat them, but I'd stick to the food, which is quite good. The mangrove cafe specializes in Thai and Malaysian cuisine adapted to Japanese palates. In other words, it's not spicy but it still has a bit of a kick and all the other requisite Southeast Asian flavours like coconut milk, lemongrass or fish sauce.
We ordered the set menu (2500 yen) that delivered an appetizer of Vietnamese spring rolls, fried chicken and shrimp toast, all with their respective sauces (quite nice all of it). The Japanese influence came through in the next dish with a sashimi platter soaked in olive oil and mustard. Where this fits in Southeast Asia I have no idea, but it was still tasty so I'm not complaining. The following two dishes came together. One of them was the famous Thai green papaya salad that had some chillies in it and gave our taste buds a little bit of a challenge. Next to it however was a grilled chicken that apparently was soaked in coconut milk but didn't taste like much and neither did the dipping sauce. To wrap the meal up, Malaysia's nasi goreng (one more variation of fried rice) and Thailand's pad thai (stir fried rice noodles). For desserts (500 yen each) my dinning companions settled for mango pudding and mint ice cream, while I ordered an almond jelly.
By the end of the meal, I had about eight orchids I plucked from our dishes; enough to make a bouquet and take them home if they still had stems attached. The mangrove cafe is not the place to look for an authentic rendition of Southeast Asian cooking, but that doesn't mean the food is not tasty. Better think of it as Southeast Asian inspired food.
The vibe inside is quite nice, and the chefs look as if they just came back from the full moon party in Thailand's beaches. The restaurant is completely non-smoking, which is a rare find. The mangrove cafe is a five minute walk from the yebisu garden place and I'd definitely recommend it over the more overpriced restaurants that line up the garden.