If you are looking for authentic local food when in Thailand, you won’t go wrong hitting the streets. Street food is part of every Thai’s way of life and while it’s easy to wander upon an awesome street stall when you are on holiday in Bangkok – finding real Thai food can be tough back home in Singapore.

Nara Thai Cuisine was started in 2006 with the intention of bringing the best of Thai street food into a comfortable, air-conditioned environment with good service for all to enjoy. The combination of fresh ingredients and tried-and-tested recipes contributed to the restaurant’s success and expansion into a chain with three outlets in Bangkok.

Singaporeans are in luck because the island is the restaurant chain’s choice for its first overseas outlet. The next time you are craving some traditional noodle soup or pomelo salad, you don’t have to hop onto a plane – instead hop on over to Ion Orchard.

Name of restaurant: Nara Thai Cuisine

Type of cuisine: Thai food, in particular Kuay Tiew Rua (Ayuthaya boat noodles)

Ambience: Tucked in a corner on B3 of Ion Orchard, the 112-seater restaurant’s interior has elements of traditional Thai art and architecture like temple bell cut-outs with a modern twist. A warm-toned palette of wood paneled walls and deep purple leather makes for a cosy, chic environment.

With over 100 items on the menu to pick from, you will face a happy dilemma at Nara Thai Cuisine.

From left: Gai Tord Kapi, Tom Yum Kung

We don’t know anyone who doesn’t like fried chicken – do you? It’s easy to see why the appetiser Gai Tord Kapi, $9.90 – deep fried chicken in traditional Thai shrimp paste sauce – is a crowd pleaser. The Thai version of Singaporean favourite har cheong gai (shrimp paste chicken) is juicy with crispy skin and the aromatic shrimp paste marinade is irresistible. Homemade dehydrated chicken salt is served as a dip and for a savoury boost – of course, we polished off a plate in no time.

Would a Thai meal be complete without Tom Yum Kung, $19.90 (tiger prawns in spicy lemongrass and lime soup)? For us, a Thai restaurant is only as good as its Tom Yum soup. The menu, recipe and flavours here are mostly the same as those found in the Thai Nara Thai Cuisine outlets, but in order not to compromise on the quality of the dishes, the chef switched the river prawns for large tiger prawns for the Tom Yum Kung as the former aren’t available fresh in Singapore. The result is a less creamy soup, but none the less tangy with a spicy kick that sneaks up upon you.

Kuay Tiew Rua

The signature Kuay Tiew Rua, $12.90 pork/$14.90 beef (Ayuthaya boat noodle) is a hearty bowl of traditional noodle soup that many Thais opt for lunch back home. Only one pot of the broth is brewed every day so it’s very likely that the dish will be sold out when you pop in for dinner. So making the effort to lunch at Nara Thai Cuisine just for the boat noodles – served with beef or pork – will be worth your while. The soup is rich with flavour and the aroma of herbs. The silky thin noodles are easy to slurp up and the best complement to the soup are the tender pork balls. A well-rounded, comforting meal on its own.

Phunim Phad Pong Karee

We had never tried Phunim Phad Pong Karee, $18.90 (stir-fried soft shell crab with yellow curry) in any Thai restaurant before. The interesting dish doesn’t disappoint – somehow the thick sauce that is packed with turmeric doesn’t affect the soft shell crab’s crunchiness. The yummy sauce outshines the crab though and we highly recommend ordering a bowl of rice to mop every bit of curry up.

Thim Nara

Thim Nara, $8.80 (coconut ice cream with Thai sweet condiments) is a fun way to end the meal. A scoop of coconut ice cream arrives with eight different condiments – from sticky rice, jackfruit, red ruby and peanuts, to the green jelly (also found in chendol) – so you can DIY your own dessert!


Food review rating: 3 out of 5
Nara Thai Cuisine is your closest Singapore mall option for the real Thai food deal.

Nara Thai Cuisine is located at #B3-21 Ion Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, Singapore 238801. Tel: 6634 5787. For more information go to www.narathai.com.sg