Nara Pan Asian fuses together three classic cuisines in one quirky eatery
It’s always tricky stepping into the shoes of a formerly adored restaurant, but Nara Pan Asian has proved it’s worthy of its place in the JLT spot where Spice and Ice used to reside.
Alcoves sprawled with Japanese street art graffiti and cherry blossom trees weaved between tables add colour to the dimly lit venue, as the upbeat 80s tunes set the tone in the restro-bar. After being seated, we’re handed the menu by the incredibly friendly, attentive staff (it makes all the difference) and face the standard can’t-decide dilemma. But we press on and order papaya salad and dynamite shrimp to begin.
The former is fresh and crunchy with an unexpected, but welcome, hot kick, the latter’s cooked to perfection and drenched in just the right measure of tangy-sweet sauce. We resist the urge to reorder, knowing there’s so much more from the fusion diner to come. It’s the dim sum and sushi selection we’ve been daydreaming about at our desks all day, after all.
We’re obliged to order the signature edamame and truffle dim sum, but the bizarre spicy-sweet flavour combination left us unsure. Next we happily crunch through the crispy tofu bites, but it’s the beautifully presented California roll sushi platter that steals the show. Colourful crab sticks, avocado, cucumber and Japanese mayo is topped with tasty sashimi such as salmon, tuna, hamachi and prawn. It’s clear from our first mouthful just how fresh the ingredients are.
We go meat-free for our mains, and ensure we tick off each cuisine with Thai green curry and Chinese crispy noodles. The fragrant curry is one of the best we’ve tried. It manages to balance a perfect spicy kick that isn’t overpowering, with a light texture that allows the pillowy soft rice to soak up the kaffir lime, coconut and green chillies flavours. The crispy noodles are, as the name suggests, crunchy and are served in a pool of black bean sauce that brings the dish to life with that addictive salty and garlic-infused flavour.
Thoroughly stuffed and satisfied with our choices so far, we’re reluctant to order dessert, unsure if there’s room. But we’re advised to end the night on sushi-style Thai mango sticky rice. They’re surprisingly sweet, and drenched in comforting coconut sauce.
Nara Pan Asian brings favourites from a trio of cuisines together, and we leave feeling happily full and very impressed.
Although the price bracket is reasonable and the atmosphere is chilled, the quality of fare is not to be sniffed at. We’re definitely going to try the brunch.
Three dishes to try
Edamame and truffle dumplings
Make up your own mind on this quirky flavour combination that’s become a signature dish.
California roll sushi
If you’re going to pick one sushi dish, make it this. They’re fresh, colourful and flavour-packed.
Green Thai curry
It’s a classic that Nara Pan Asian prepares to perfection, so don’t give the saucy delight a miss.
Nara Pan Asian
Where: Cluster A, JLT
Contact: +9714 421 1356