It’s been a long-awaited moment for some; touted as one of Thailand’s best restaurants, Nara Thai Cuisine is now open for business in Singapore.
First, a bit of history: Nara Thai Cuisine was launched in Thailand in 2006, with the aim of bringing the best of Thai street food into a comfortable air-conditioned restaurant. Since then, it’s opened two more branches in the country. Nara Thai Cuisine prides itself on using only the highest quality ingredients while retaining authenticity through age-old recipes. Its opening in Singapore marks Nara Thai Cuisine’s first overseas outlet – and going by Singaporeans’ love of all things spicy and Thai street food, I wouldn’t be surprised if another branch pops up on this island soon.
But does the food live up to its claim? After all, you’d be hardpressed to find better-tasting street food than those on the, well, streets. Our verdict: If you love spicy Thai cuisine and have some cash to splash, go ahead and give this a shot.
For appetisers, a must-try is Larb Tord ($13.90) – these deep-fried spicy pork balls are quite something else. The Hors d’oeuvre Nara ($17.90), a selection of appetisers like Thai fish cakes, pandan chicken and satay, is not as spectacular as Larb Tord, but makes for a good sharing dish. Typically a balanced mix of sweet, sour, spicy and salty, the pomelo salad here at Nara Thai Cuisine – Yum Som O ($13.90) – leans heavily on the sweet side.
Of course, what’s Thai cuisine without Tom Yum soup? But here’s a dare for you: try Kaeng Som Cha Om Jung Sod ($17.90). Consisting of prawns and fried dill pattie omelette, this soup is tongue-numbingly spicy. In fact, I’d recommend that you treat the soup as gravy instead and pour it over your rice if you value your taste buds.
Speaking of spicy, one mouthful of the Moo Phad Kra Pao ($13.90) – stir-fried pork with chilli and hot basil – almost made me jump out of my seat. Okay, to begin with, I’m not the greatest fan of spicy food, but chilli-lover Denise also agrees that this dish is only for the hard-core eaters. A safer option for non-spicy eaters like me would be Phu Nim Phad Pong Karee ($18.90), or stir-fried soft shell crab with yellow curry. While the curry tastes a little like MSG and isn’t spicy at all, its saltiness and flavour go great with the soft shell crab.
Regrettably, we didn’t stay for the desserts. The menu offers quite a good selection of sweet treats, such as I-Thim Nara – coconut ice cream served with a selection of Thai sweet condiments, like red ruby, nata de coco and even jackfruit. For drinks, try their signature cocktail and mocktail concoctions. Nara Thai Cuisine Singapore has partnered with bespoke cocktail bar Bar Stories to create said concoctions, namely, the Siamese Sour, a mix of Kaffir lime leaf, palm sugar and calamansi whiskey sour; the Bangkok Rose, made up of soursop, calamansi, rose and vodka; and the non-alcoholic Agar Fizz, a combo of lemongrass, calamansi, and lemongrass agar agar.
Nara Thai Cuisine is located at #B3-21 Ion Orchard (replacing Burger King), Tel: 6634 5787.
Material World was invited to a tasting at Nara Thai Cuisine and was not paid for this review. All opinions are the author’s own.
About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.