Bangkok’s Nara Thai is the place to get traditional Thai dishes here in Manila

Words by Kelly Punzalan
Photos by Michelle Neri

Phad Thai, Massaman Curry, Pineapple Fried Rice, Tom Yum Soup…I bet you’re already salivating all over your keyboard. If you’re craving some of these Thai delicacies, look no further than Nara Thai for a quality dining experience.

Nara Thai is a restaurant chain that has been operating in Bangkok, Thailand for more than 10 years now, and they finally came to Manila just last year. In fact, they recently celebrated their one-year anniversary!

There are only seven international Nara Thai branches spread throughout the world (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mumbai, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Myanmar, and Philippines) and the Manila branch was awarded the Thai Select this 2019, a distinction recognized by the Thai government.

CEO Sheila Romero saw that the restaurant scene lacked choices for premium Thai food even though Thai cuisine is among the top five favorites of Filipino diners. She decided to open the first Nara Thai Philippines branch at SM Megamall to introduce this food outlet to a culture defined by consumers who enjoy dining in malls. “My vision was to have authentic Thai cuisine in a mall setting. You don’t have to go to a hotel just to get your Thai fix,” she said.

ALSO READ: Thailand Backpacking Budget: How I Spent 1 Month in Thailand for Just 35,000 PHP

Nara Thai prides itself in using classic recipes combined with ingredients flown in from Thailand, and cooked by Thai chefs and chefs trained in Thailand. Even their plates are from Thailand! Many restaurants here serve fusion dishes suited for Filipino palates, but not Nara Thai. They want to bring the traditional taste of Bangkok to Manila, and their head chefs undergo rigorous training to make this happen.

Whether it’s a family dinner, a lunch out with friends, or even a date night, Nara Thai is a great option because their dishes are good for sharing. Although they have some items on the pricier end, their best-sellers and many other dishes are all less than P500.

The wonderful people at Nara Thai let us try a few, including Tord Man Goong, Khao Phad Kra Pao, Pla Muk Phad Khai Khem, Longan Sticky Rice and, of course, Phad Thai. If you’ve never heard of the other dishes, don’t worry because you’ll get to know them right now.

Tord Man Goong / 350 Php

The English translation of Tord Man Goong is Crispy Fried Shrimp Cakes. This appetizer is paired with a sweet and sour dip that perfectly complements the taste of the shrimp cakes. They’re meant to be starters, but I could honestly eat two whole boxes of them. That’s how addicting they are!

Khao Phad Kra Prao Gai: Chicken – 235 Php / Pork – 235 Php  

Next, we had the Khao Phad Kra Pao which is fried rice with chili, hot basil, and chicken or pork. This might seem like such a simple dish, but it was my favorite out of them all. There’s a kick of spice, but it’s subtle enough that it doesn’t overpower the other elements of the dish. Not too much, but also not too little. That’s what Thai cuisine is all about.

Pla Muk PhadKhai Khem / 385 Php

The Pla Muk PhadKhai Khem, on the other hand, consists of stir-fried squid in salted egg. It’s absolutely delicious and also tastes great when partnered with Nara Thai’s fried rice!

Phad Thai Kai Krob: Solo – 285 Php / Sharing – 390 Php
Thai Milk Tea 135 Php

And, of course, when eating Thai food, you must order a plate of Phad Thai. It’s an unspoken rule. Nara Thai’s Phad Thai noodles with prawn and crispy egg floss take me back to when I was roaming the streets of Bangkok. The taste is almost identical to the Phad Thai I had at random food stalls there.

Khao Niew Lam Yai Nai Maprow Ice Cream / 255 Php

For dessert, we got to try their Khao Niew Lam Yai Nai Maprow Ice Cream. It’s a different version of Thailand’s famous sticky rice dessert with longan fruit (in the same family as lychee) instead of mango. It’s served with coconut ice cream as well as crunchy pinipig, which provides a nice contrast to the uber-sweet sticky rice underneath.

Our experience at Nara Thai was delightful and we can’t wait to go back!

Nara Thai’s one and only location is at SM Megamall, but they have plans of expansion and will open restaurants at other locations in Metro Manila very soon. You can follow their social media for updates on their new openings.

Nara Thai

3/F SM Megamall Fashion Hall, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila
(02) 637 3860
Instagram: @narathaiph

Operating Hours
Mon-Sun: 10 AM – 10 PM

Related Stories