[BKK] Nara Thai Cuisine | authentic food with a relaxed ambience

Friday, December 13, 2013

While we learnt about the opening of Nara Thai in Singapore, we decided to give it a miss since we had planned to travel to Bangkok and surely there is no better place than to try it at the original restaurant itself rather than an overseas branch.

Prior to travelling to Bangkok, we tried to make reservations at a few restaurants that we intended to try and Nara Thai was surely on our list of 'to-try-places'. Unfortunately, it seemed rather difficult to make any reservations since their website did not offer a contact email nor have a booking system in place. We noticed that people started writing on their Facebook wall to place reservations, which we followed suit but was informed that only walk-in will be entertained. Anyhow, for a restaurant to have won the 'Thailand's Best Restaurants' award for seven consecutive years since 2007, it seemed too good to pass.

Originally founded in 2003 by a group of female entrepreneurs, Nara is now a renowned Thai restaurant famous for its Boat Noodles and authentic Thai cuisine. The dishes have been adapted into a modern context to complement its comfortable and chic setting.

Targeted at modern urbanite, expatriates and Asian tourists, Nara Thai prides itself for the authentic Thai dishes and the relaxed ambience coupled with good service. Do we need to say more, let us find out if they made our calories counted!

Sakoo - 120 THB

Regarded as one of their signature appetisers, this is essentially tapioca balls with minced pork filling. While the serving portion was relatively large and definitely sizeable to share among three to four people, it failed to impress my palate. Served warm, there was an interesting blend of textures with the fried shallots giving that nice crunch while there was a nice supple coating from the tapioca starch which was elastic and mildly rubbery. The minced pork on the inside tasted fresh but my concern was that the tapioca starch coating was too adhesive for comfort and resulted in a few of the tapioca balls being torn wide open.

Verdict: 7.5/10

 Tord Man Pia - 230 THB

More commonly known as Thai fish cakes, this was a simple delicacy cooked beautifully. We enjoyed the nice crust on the surface complemented by a soft and chewy inside. With the usage of fresh fish fillet in the making, the red curry paste used to coat the fish cakes enhanced the beautiful flavours within. Complementing the dish however was the container of crunchy peanut sauce with sliced cucumber which added texture with a nice crunch and just to deliver that extra oomph with the richness of the peanut sauce.

Verdict: 8.5/10

Gai Hor Bai Toei - 175 THB

This has to be one of the classic favourites among Thai food lovers and surely fitted the bill for us. The chicken were carefully wrapped in pandan leaves before being deep fried, which allows the fragrance of the pandan leaves to permeate through to the chicken. It was cooked perfectly leaving a nice crisp on the surface of the chicken while the inside of it remained tender and juicy, locking in all the juices without leaving a greasy after taste.

Served with dark sweet sauce and sesame, we felt that it was tasty enough standalone!

Verdict: 8.5/10

Phad Thai Kai Krob - 200 THB

Yet another classic, the Phad Thai is the famous fried noodles with prawns in sweet tamarind sauce. Generously covered over the fragrant fried noodles was a pile of pork floss and crispy egg bits, deep-fried to a golden-brown delicious, which packed a whole lot of flavours and texture to this simple dish. The bean sprouts were served raw but delicately treated with the heads plucked. It also complemented the soft noodles with a nice crunch and the flat rice-noodles were cooked to perfection. Served al dente, it was just nice and despite the drizzle of acidity from the lemon wedge, we found the a strong tomato after-taste which unfortunately masked the tang and sweetness from the tamarind sauce.

Verdict: 8.0/10

Mussaman Nua Nong - 280 THB

The beef mussaman curry generally is a sweeter form of curry as compared to the spicy ones. As we similarly tried the beef mussaman curry from Nahm few days back, it would be hard not to draw comparison. While this curry was enjoyable and decent, we felt that it was slightly watery and lacked the richness and creaminess that Nahm offered. Another drawback was the choice of cut for the beef as some parts might seem too stiff while most of it was tender and almost melt-in-your-mouth soft.

Interestingly, we were also given a side condiment which consisted of red onions, cucumber and chillies which is meant to add complexity to the flavours and taste of the curry.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Tom Yum Kung Maenum - 360 THB

We loved how our tom yum soup was presented in a very classic manner. With a nice blend of spicy lemon grass and lime, the tom yum was spicy as expected but manageable by our standards. The river prawns were large, juicy and very fresh. 

All the elements were present, be it the spiciness, sourish tang or the lemon grass fragrance. As the lady enjoyed it the way it was, I would have preferred a more intense version. While it looked intimidatingly spicy, one would soon realise after the first taste that it was definitely reasonable.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Thai Iced Tea - 90 THB; Chang Export Beer - 125 THB

We could not think of a more relaxing afternoon than this; nice comfortable sofa seats, satisfying meal and some mildly sweet Thai iced tea or their locally produced Chang beer to neutralise the spicy dishes.

Most of the interior seating has sofa seats and overall, the ambience is one which is casual and relaxed. With plenty of their servers about, it was easy to secure their attention.

After trying the original restaurant in Bangkok, we now have a good expectation of the standard. Overall we felt that the local delights were well-cooked, with most of the dishes making the mark. It might have been due to the vacation mood when everything just seems to be 'better' and more 'enjoyable' but the truth is, this meal surely made our calories counted! While the prices might seem affordable, when converted to Singapore dollars, it would be on the higher end for the locals.

Nara Thai Cuisine
Central World, 7th Floor, Beacon Zone
Tel: +662 613 1658/9

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