Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Cafe with a Thai Twist

At the onset Lady Nara is definitely not the place I would choose to go – I thought with its fancy, garden-like décor with props everywhere for a cheesy snap, it’s more suited for those young IGers eager for those “candid”, “likes”-catching story posts swinging in those rattan couch or looking over the harbor view holding a colorful drink. And I was proven wrong with a meal there recently – well turned out it has all that I have mentioned, but they also got decent food and unique dishes that woo its customers and contributed to its popularity since they opened a few months ago at Harbour City. 

I have been to the Hong Kong branch of the Bangkok-based Apinara on the other side of the harbor before and Lady Nara actually belongs to the same group, also from Bangkok (with the original restaurant right in the downtown Central Embassy shopping mall). While Apinara focuses on classic Thai cuisine with the likes of Tom Yum, Tom Kha Kai or Green Curry, Lady Nara was more of its casual off-shoot with more creative dishes using Thai spices but in a modern combination of ingredients and flavor. 

Our dinner was arranged by the restaurant’s PR rep and we were presented with the customized tasting menu featuring a number of their signature dishes that we could pick. But first, those colorful drinks – I did secretly enjoy the purple-ish butterfly pea iced tea served in a highball glass with lychee syrup and crumbled rose petals on top. Their menu was filled with casual dishes, typical of one would find in any café in town but with a Thai twist in most of them that made them unique. 

Just like the couple of appetizers we chose – the Lobster Tom Yum Bisque looked exactly like the original version with the rich and creamy bisque loaded with umami flavor from the lobsters, but also got a slight kick of Thai spices and dressed with coconut milk and edible flowers on top. It was delicious. Likewise for the beef tartare, this time served with pineapple chunks and tamarind mayonnaise on the side with a small quail egg. I like my steam tartare to have a richer egg-yolk flavor but certainly nothing wrong with this variant, sweeter and with the nice tender texture from the well-marinated raw beef.

The lemongrass roast chicken is one of their most famous dishes, and we were served the whole bird for the two of us. At first it just looked like every roast chicken served in town these days, with the golden color skin and bunch of herbs sticking out from the bottom for the presentation that has gone so cliché now. But actually, it’s different from the rest, and I loved they actually used a bigger chicken with more fatty meat, well-brined and marinated with cilantro, tamarind, galagal and lemongrass, then perfectly roasted with the tasty and slightly crispy skin on top. This is a solidly-executed dish that wowed us. 

We had a couple more main dishes to come. The crab rigatoni was creamy and hearty, served with a toss of the cheesy sauce with picked crab meat and tobiko underneath, and the sea-bass was baked en papilotte with a Thai twist, with straw mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, and minced pork inside the parchment paper pouch along with the whole sea-bass fillet. The taste might be the lightest among all the dishes we had but it was tasty. 

Having told the Thai Tea Tiramisu was the must-have and that’s what we picked to end our meal with. It’s served just like the Italian classic “pick-me-up”, with layers of custards and soaked ladyfinger topped with cocoa power in a tumbler, but rather than coffee it’s done with rich milk tea, and topped with the pouring of condensed milk, the necessary ingredient of Thai Ice Tea. I normally like a firmer version of the tiramisu – perhaps with an extra layer of ladyfingers, and a richer mascarpone taste but I did like this sweet and creamy version.  

So no shots of us sitting on the rattan swinging couch with the flower backdrop, but with all seriousness we enjoyed the food (and drink) and each other’s company in this casual dine-out place which I don't mind coming back next time when we were in the area looking for somewhere nice to sit down. 

When? May 13 2021
Where? Lady Nara, Shop 3303, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, Tsimshatsui
Menu Highlights? Lemongrass Roast Chicken 

No comments :