Nara Thai Cuisine is considered to be one of the top Thai restaurants, not just in its native country (which says a lot about the quality and taste of the restaurant’s offerings), but also in neighboring countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, to name a few. The brains behind the local franchise are the mother and daughter team of Sheila and Milka Romero. The duo, through their Roku Group, has already brought in two Japanese restaurants and their decision to bring in Nara came easily. After all, Thai food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world, and Filipinos have long embraced specialities such as the ubiquitous pad thai and the crispy catfish salad.
As a family, they would travel to Bangkok often and find themselves eating in Nara just as frequently. “Every time we go abroad we end up getting inspired,” says Milka. While there are many Thai restaurants in the Philippines, they either lacked the authentic flavors or were pricey affairs. “Most of them are found in hotels,” says Sheila. They wanted more Filipinos to get to try the real deal, so they knew they had to bring it to the malls. But would Filipinos take to the spice level? “Thai food is all about the flavors and the strong spices,” says Milka. “We want to promote that kind of taste and not super localize it.” Instead of changing the heat level of a dish, they advise diners to choose a traditionally milder alternative.
Classic and popular Thai dishes such as Pad Thai Noodles (P390), Tom Yum Goong Soup (P420) and Green Chicken Curry (P385) are all executed perfectly in this newly opened restaurant. The Pad Thai Noodles offer a mélange of textures—the chewiness of the glutinous rice noodles, the crunch of the bean sprouts and spring onions, and the citric hit from the lime. The Green Chicken Curry is silky and creamy, and features an interplay of sweetness and heat that is positively addicting; eat this with as much fluffy white rice as your conscience will allow you to. Lastly, the Tom Yum Goog Soup is warm and inviting, the kind of soup that comforts after a tough day at the office. Sour, sweet, creamy with a dash of lingering heat, its status as a favorite is unmatched. Among the drinks, the popular Thai Milk Tea (P125) is particularly good, as it captures the original taste of the drink—a delicate and balanced blend of black tea and thick, creamy milk with just a touch of sweetness.
Crispy Catfish Salad
Nara Thai Cuisine uses only premium and authentic ingredients and pairs them with the careful preparation of the restaurant’s in-house Thai chefs and Thailand-trained sous chefs. Coming from a country popular for its street food, Nara Thai Cuisine also elevates the dining experience with its food presentation, impressive staff service and upscale yet casual interiors. For its design, it forgoes both the traditional dark wood fixtures as well as the ultra modern look favored by some Thai restos, going instead for something in the middle by way of its muted grey palette (this extends from the walls to the tables and chairs) complemented by bright pops of purple from the floral decorations. One look and it fits right in with the rest of the foodie favorites found on the third floor of SM Mega Fashion Hall.
(L-R) Sheila Romero, Yuri Srikarnchana, Milka Romero and Jean Chulesewok
“Basically I think the market wants something really authentic,” says Sheila. “We want them to say was that it’s the same as in Bangkok.” Will it fly? Judging from the lines that followed the restaurant’s opening a few months back, it seems like Filipinos do like genuine thing.
Nara Thai Cuisine is located a the 3/F SM Mega Fashion Hall