Nara is an elegant chain of restaurants conceptualised by a group of women entrepreneurs just over a decade ago, and became tremendously famous for its 'boat noodles' ("kuay tiau leua"/ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ). One can opt for any type of noodles to go with the spicy, sweet broth: 'sen lek'/เส้น เล็ (thin rice noodles), 'sen yai'/เส้น ใหญ่ (thick rice noodles), 'sen mee'/เส้น หมี่ (tiny rice noodles), or 'woon sen' (glass noodles). This noodle dish usually gets its robust flavour from pig's blood.
Our lunch today:
- 'Kuay tiau leau' with pork balls, sliced pork, pig's liver and crispy pork-skin: the version here is not too sweet, perhaps adjusted for foreigners' taste as this Nara outlet is in Central World, Bangkok's largest mall.
- 'Khao pad puu': crab-meat fried rice - one of my fave carb dishes in the whole wide world. The version here tasted a bit bland, lacking the slight tinge of sweetness whch characterises Thai fried rice.
- 'Kaeng phed ped yang': roast duck red curry - very flavoursome rendition here and with the minutest hint of chilli heat. Okay, the cooking here is definitely for non-Thai diners. Loved the halved grapes which provided explosions of sweetness in the red curry, though. And the duck-meat was some of the most tender I'd had for this dish.
- Steamed red jasmine rice, which went extremely well with the red curry. Excellent pairing.
- 'Khanom jeeb': steamed pork-shrimp-crab dumplings, which is of Thai-Chinese origin. The golf-ball-sized dumplings are topped with golden-fried onions-garlic, and are pretty juicy and delicious.
- Dessert: durian ice-cream with glutinous rice, jackfruit strips and toasted groundnuts.
Overall, a pretty satisfactory meal at the vast F&B precinct of Central World Plaza - the restaurants span the 6th & 7th floor of the massive mall, but surprisingly few quality Thai eateries as most younger Thais who make up the bulk of the mall's visitors prefer Italian, Japanese, Korean, American fast-food, etc. to Thai food which they'd get at home, or which they feel they can obtain at a fraction of the price (albeit in more spartan surroundings) in Bangkok's street food stalls. Nara Thai has done well enough to open an overseas branch in Singapore's ION Orchard (although I felt the standard of cooking in their Singapore outlet was dismal).
Nara Thai Cuisine
Central World, 7/F
4,4 / 1-2,4 / 4, Ratchadamri Road
Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Tel: +662 6131658-9/+669 261 37844