So there I stood, in Bangkok’s newest riverfront boutique strip called Asiatique, gaping at an exotic froyo kiosk bursting with flavours from subtle green tea to flamboyant frutti di bosco (‘fruits of the forest’ or mixed berries). But guess what I was craving? Vanilla. Basic, velvety vanilla, from French Polynesia or apna Kerala. Just a few days earlier, I’d tasted a superb Madagascar Vanilla froyo in Delhi. Creamy texture, that spicy flavour that engulfs you yet fleets away, and the slightest hint of a bitter aftertaste—it was unforgettable. Which is why I was craving vanilla.
I didn’t find my vanilla in Bangkok (though the freshly churned coconut gelato there is to die for) but back in Delhi, I know just where to find it. Red Mango, the South Korean chain that produces all-natural frozen yoghurts, fresh fruit smoothies, yoghurt parfaits and probiotic iced teas, has launched five outlets in Delhi.
The flagship outlet is a cheery red island in Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj. Its self-serve froyo dispensers are very popular. It’s great fun work the levers like a pro, squeeze out as much froyo as you want (it’s billed by the gram), swirl your cup to make the peaks and get your fix of toppings from the array of fresh fruit, wild berries, marshmallows, chocolate crunchies, M&Ms, Post cereals, Ghirardelli chocolate sauces and more.
I’ve already raved about the Madagascar Vanilla froyo. My other litmus test is Original Yoghurt. At Red Mango, I found it too granular on the day I visited, with that crystalline, icicle-like finish that puts one off other froyo outlets. It was possibly a refrigeration issue because all the other flavours were smooth and creamy. Sonoma Strawberry (yup, from California) was straightforward and delicious but Mango, though tasty, didn’t impress me much. I’m much too sold on earthy langda/malda varietals to acquire the homogenized, supposedly Alphonso taste.
If you like the zings in your sweet nothings, then Kiwi and Blueberry are for you. Kiwi is tangy and tart, with a very vegetal flavour, perfect if you top it off with kiwi cubes and a sprinkle of crushed white chocolate. Blueberry is sharp and juicy—if you like the fruit, you’ll relish it—but again, I’d much rather be surprised by a jamun or sitaphal flavour. Such localization is not feasible in a global chain like Red Mango, so I won’t digress into that. Other flavours they have introduced in Delhi, by rotation, are Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate (mmm!) and Cinnamon (mmmmmm!) With their bank of over 60 flavours, I’m salivating at the thought of White Peach, Caribbean Coconut, Pomegranate and, wait for it, Cake Batter… I’d willingly drown in Cake Batter!
If you’re thinking how sinful that would be, know this: Red Mango claims that it has health benefits because its products are non-fat, use all-natural ingredients, have absolutely no artificial sweeteners, are certified gluten-free and contain Ganeden BC30, supposedly the best natural probiotic around. Health freaks will appreciate this info but food freaks like me know what matters is the ultimate taste test, and Red Mango maxes it. Their froyos really do taste essentially like dahi but in a robustly flavourful way.
Their probiotic iced teas—I tried Honey Lemon, they also offer Green, Peach and Lemon; Rs 109–129) are refreshingly natural, without the cloying flavour of fruit concentrate or sugar substitutes. Tropical Mango Smoothie (Rs 149–169) took me by surprise because it did not have that awful synthetic syrup taste that even the best smoothies in town can have. In fact, it was beautifully buttery (it’s made with fermented milk) even without any ice-cream.
Red Mango offers a decent array of low-cal sandwiches; Sun-Dried Tomato (Rs 139) and Chicken Tinga (Rs 149) sound promising. They also rustle up tempting parfaits like Mixed Berry and Tropical Frozen (both Rs 249). The tall glasses with layers of cereals, fruit, Original froyo, organic granola and fruity compote would make for a fulfilling breakfast but my eyes were set on Gourmet Waffles (Rs 129–249). They have Caramel Banana and Fruit Rainbow and Blueberry but I tried Crispy Almond & Walnut (Rs 229). Forget the parfait, and break your fast with this! Four heart-shaped spongy chunks of gluten-free waffle, studded with toasted nuts and topped off with a dollop of yoghurt cream cheese and chocolate sauce… It’s beyondelicious.
Red Mango is quite a discovery. I’m not finicky about the health benefits of my food (which food critic can be?) but when something that is so good for you also tastes good, it has a lot going for it. Time to see Red!
Ratings out of 5
Food: 4.0 | Ambience: 4.0 | Service: 4.0 |Overall: 4.0
Prices: Froyos @ self-serve: 99 paise per gram; @ cup sizes: regular Rs 69, grande Rs 129, Big O Rs 249; other price points in text | Alcohol: No | Credit Card: Yes| Timing: 11 am–11 pm
Address: Ground Floor, Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj | Telephone: 40870194
Other outlets: N-20, Outer Circle, Connaught Place; Great India Place Mall, Noida; Ambience Mall, Gurgaon; Select Citywalk Mall, Saket
– Mudita Chauhan Mubayi