They lead the team cooking up Thai treats in bite size portions at the restaurant which has become a Southampton institution, delighting customers for nearly two decades. 

Head chef Sai Rattanaphan, a former Le Royal Méridien hotel chef from Koh Samui, and tapas chef Nok Jones, from Prachinburi near Bangkok, work at the original Mango Thai Tapas in Portswood.

They talk spice and more spice in our weekly meet the chef column.

Daily Echo: Inside Mango Portswood

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Tell us a bit about your career...?

Sai: "I was 17 when I started out back in Thailand. I found the energy in the kitchen and the pressure of multi-tasking exciting. I still do.  I was excited to learn English and working in a European restaurant allowed me to do that. I had to learn quickly because the order tickets were all in English! When I came to England years later, I went back to my roots cooking Thai food, now I love to be able to cook Thai food with my own twist."

Nok: "When I first came to England, I began washing dishes. I gradually learnt the different areas of the kitchen, and eventually ended up running the restaurant. When I came to Mango, making the tapas dishes was what I really enjoyed, and here I still am!"

Daily Echo: Nok stir-frying vegetables for veg spring rolls

What was the first meal you cooked for someone else?

Sai: "A southern Thai curry, no coconut milk, extra spicy."

Nok: "Khai Jeow (Thai omelette), it’s simple but delicious. Salty, sweet and spicy."

 What is your favourite dish on the menu?

Sai: "Our palettes are totally different. Nok likes to eat authentic Thai dishes, like the fishcakes and dim sum. I love the more modern twists like bang bang cauliflower and the new tom yum noodles."

What is your favourite meal to cook at home?

Nok: "I love anything noodles… noodle soup, noodle pasta… and make it pet pet pet! (spicy, spicy, spicy!)

Sai: "I love to whip up a papaya salad with grilled chicken. So fresh and delicious."

Daily Echo: Sai making chicken satay

What do you like to drink with dinner?

Sai: "A glass of Merlot."

Nok: "A fruity mocktail, or Nom Yen, Thai pink milk."

What is your culinary guilty pleasure?

Sai: "Pork scratchings."

Nok: "Sweet Thai dessert Khao Lam, sticky rice cooked with coconut milk in a bamboo shoot. So yummy!

Which key ingredient is always in your fridge?

Both: "Nam Pla (fish sauce)."

Daily Echo: