NARA Pan Asian
Festivities continue well into the new year especially when you have friends who have been away enjoying well deserved holidays over the actual festive season. So when three of us decided to band together on the first Friday of the new year, my only criteria (as always) was to dine at a place we haven’t eaten at before. We are lucky that way – Dubai offers us unlimited possibilities of options where you don’t need to repeat yourself!
So, after a bit of searching and shortlisting, we zeroed in on NARA Pan Asian at Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) which promised traditional Japanese, Thai and Chinese fare – perfect for us oriental cuisine food lovers. It was only when I got there that I realized it had taken the place of Spice & Ice (happy memories at that one too).
NOTE: Although it has a separate entrance to Mövenpick Hotel (you have to walk down the stairs as its located at lake level), you can still use the valet parking of the hotel (just need to get the card stamped at the restaurant). The restaurant also serves alcohol.
The minute you walk in, you are greeting with alcoves sprawled with contemporary Japanese street graffiti and cherry blossom trees weaved between tables adding colour to the otherwise dark-wood interior. We went for lunch, so we did have some sunlight steaming in. I really should have taken more photos of the interiors, especially of the manga artwork on the walls…
It was happy hour, so while my fellow diners were figuring out what they wanted to drink, I was left with the mocktail menu. Although limited, I did not take long to decide that the Drogo was going to be it. With a name like that you would expect a dragon fruit to be part of the mix including falernum, elderflower and ginger.
Most of our starters were recommended and ordered before I arrived (I was running late – so unlike me) which was perfect, as all I had to do was show up and eat 😊
Edamame and Truffle dumplings – this is one of their most popular dishes and I could see why.
Chicken Xiao Long bao – basically these are soup dumplings as they are filled with hot soup and must be eaten in a particular way – we had to be shown how 😉 Basically you take one in a soup spoon, tear it open with chopsticks (in my case with a fork), let the soup pour out into the spoon and you drink it and then eat the bao. Our server made it look so easy!!! I enjoyed it, but it was too messy for me – I really need to practice the gentle art of tearing into a bao with a fork. (The picture was too blurry for me to share.. sorry!)
We did have another dumpling – we know it was seafood, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called 😦
Pepper Prawns – Tiger prawns marinated in a fiery pepper sauce, grilled. These were good, but I think I forgot to take a photo of the dish.
Chicken Balls – battered fried marinated chicken balls which were totally avoidable. Did not like the taste (assuming there was some).
Rainbow sushi – This is basically a California roll sushi platter of 8 with crab sticks, avocado, cucumber and Japanese mayo which is topped with tasty sashimi such as salmon, tuna, tobiko, yellowtail and prawn. It was clear from our first bite just how fresh the ingredients were.
Our mains comprised of Thai Steamed Fish which came highly recommended by our server. The steamed red snapper was marinated in lemon and chillies and came with a side of garlic rice and I liked it enough to have the last bite.
Thai Green Curry (came with a side of rice) – This is one of the better green curries I have had in Dubai. It managed to balance a perfect spicy kick that wasn’t overpowering, with a light texture that allowed the soft rice to soak up the kaffir lime, coconut and green chillies flavours.
For dessert we ordered the Citrus Sorbet – had a nice kick, I had a couple of spoonfuls and I was done. I did not even have space to try the Crème brûlée, but my fellow diners seemed to enjoy it.
Finally, we ordered the Jasmine and Lilly Blooming Tea – never seen a ‘blooming’ tea before, and as it was placed in front of us, my camera poised, we patiently waited.. and waited. Nothing seemed to be happening, so when we called our server to say it did not look like photos on google (yes we googled to see if we were missing something here), he took it away only to return with the flower straightened. I think this one is more of a gimmicky drink (and an insta delight) and so I turned to my simple green tea.
The service at NARA Pan Asian has to be credited. They were wonderful, helpful and patient. I say this because over our four hour lunch, they knew exactly when to back off and let us chitter-chatter and knew exactly when to come in with their recommendations. Not once did I feel like we had overstayed our welcome.
Location: NARA Pan Asian, Cluster A, Next to Movenpick Hotel, JLT, Dubai Telephone: +9714 421 1356 Open on Saturday – Wednesday from 12 noon – 1 AM and on Thursday – Friday from 12 noon – 3 AM.
NOTE: I ate at NARA Pan Asian on my OWN time and money! The views and opinions expressed on this blog are truly my OWN.