Nara Thai Cuisine

The buzz: Already a well known name in Bangkok with two branches in the Thai capital (with a third under renovation), Nara Thai Cuisine’s first Singapore outlet is a spacious 112-seater set up by young managing partners John Wangwanitkul and Christopher Tan (Zsofi Tapas Bar and Slice – The Pizza Reform), plus director Alex Ye.

The vibe: It’s a casual but smart looking joint done up by Thai interior design firm WM Imagineer. The restaurant space incorporates Nara’s signature color purple—with purple banquette seats and pendant lamps—and there are some glitzy gold wall hangings (which Wangwanitkul personally carried to Singapore in his luggage).

The food: Familiar classics like pandan chicken ($12.90), Thai fish cakes ($13.90) and tom yum soup with river prawns ($19.90) share the menu with less common specialities such as hot and spicy soup with dill patty omelet ($17.90) and the house speciality, soft-shell crab with yellow curry ($18.90).

The drinks: Order up traditional Thai beverages (from $5) in flavors like pea flower or pandan, as well as  specialty cocktails (from $20) by Bar Stories (57A Haji Lane, 6298-0838, such as the Siamese Sour, a whiskey sour with kaffir lime, palm sugar and calamansi.

Why you’ll be back: The food is very good, the location convenient and the decor is a lot nicer than your average mom and pop joint. It’s a comfy, reliable spot for a Thai meal.

Eat this at Nara Thai Cuisine: Soft-shell crab with yellow curry. It’s one of I-S Magazine’s 50 things to eat before you die (2013).