Review: Nara Thai (Ion Orchard)

Nara Thai is located at basement 3 of Ion Orchard. It has gained a reputation in Thailand for bringing Thai street food to a restaurant setting. Here, the flavours are more suitable for the international palate, with healthier versions of the Thai street food we know. The restaurant caters to the middle-upper class in Thailand and the menu is extensive, offering a wide range.

The restaurant gives off a casual Thai dining feel, but prices are far from that. For one thing, the drinks are overpriced (Thai Iced Milk Tea at $5.90), so it is definitely not worth it to order, even more so since it is nothing impressive. I could get the same elsewhere and better for cheaper. Stick to the plain water served.

Pad Thai with Prawns ($15.90)
A must-try for me at any Thai restaurant would be Pad Thai, as it is a dish that you can judge culinary standards by, since it is so iconic and common an offering. The accompanying prawns here were succulent and fresh. However, I found the Pad Thai a little too sweet and mild in flavour for my liking, neither was there any lingering fragrance after eating. Easily forgettable. Portion-wise, the restaurant was most generous with this dish.

Fried Soft Shell Crab with Sweet Tamarind Sauce ($16.90) 
It was surprising to see this on the menu, as I associate soft shell crab with Japanese menus. This dish turned out to be one of the best of the night. The soft shell crab was fried to the right level of crispness, not losing the moisture inside. The sweet tamarind sauce also complemented it, and the combination was not overwhelmingly sweet when eaten with rice.

Fried Squid in salted egg yolk sauce ($13.90)
The squid was cooked really well, retaining its springiness and not tough at all, as squids will be when overcooked. However, there was more salted egg than squid for this dish, and the portion size was small. The salted egg also came in sizable chunks, and it was hard to distinguish the egg from the squid. I bit on this entire salted egg chunk and nearly gagged from the saltiness of it.

Green Curry Chicken ($13.90)
The green curry was good, but again, the portion size was very small. The curry hit the right thickness and flavor, but the chicken meat inside was unimpressive as it was all chicken breast meat, which made it slightly tough to chew and dry.

Fried Taro and Bean Curd ($8.90)
Don't be fooled by the humbleness of this. The fried taro is exceptional. It is very very crisp and light, and biting into it was delightful- the crispiness coupled with the taro flavour. My favourite of the night.

Red rubies in coconut milk ($6.90)
We rounded off the meal with the dessert, Tub Tim Grob (Red Rubies in Coconut milk). As with all Thai desserts, this came very sweet, and again, nothing overwhelming,

Amazingly (or shockingly), our bill for the night came to $115 for 4 people, which is exorbitant considering the portion sizes. The rice ('Jasmine Fragrant Rice') is priced at $2.50 per bowl, which is very very expensive. I would go back for the select few dishes that impressed, but definitely, I will be skipping out on the milk tea. Better value and food of equal if not better quality can be found at the likes of Aloy Thai and Zenso.

Nara Thai
#B3-21, Ion Orchard, 2 Ion Orchard Turn