Nara is an exceptional Pan Asian fusion restaurant and bar in JLT. Located at lake level (next door to Couqley) of the Mövenpick Hotel in Cluster A, it’s exactly where the much-loved (but now gone) Ice & Spice (boo hoo hoo) used to be. In fact, Nara is owned and managed by the same amazing team which brought us Spice & Ice, and before that Pizza Express. The interior of Nara is the epitome of fusion – the marriage of modernist manga and traditional cherry blossoms (you’ll understand the minute you walk in). Think of it as something in-between comical Mr Miyagi’s and theatrical Miss Tess (aren’t we just full of cute Yin and Yang analogies today?).
I am a purist at heart, and as such not a big fan of fusion restaurants. So, I was very pleasantly…wow-ed by the food at Nara. Where to start? We had a little something from every part of the menu and there wasn’t a single item we didn’t like (except maybe the cheque). Whatever you do, don’t leave the restaurant without trying their orgasmic Edamame & Truffle Dumplings.
In fact, all their dumpling are super (they have a dedicated, Chinese dumpling specialist chef), so you can make a meal (or drink snacks) of dumplings and small plates, tapas style.
The Nara menu is very vegetarian-friendly. And that’s because their cool-dude owner is a strict (borderline anal) vegetarian and has personally seen to this. Yet it was he who perfected the curry sauce for their fantastic (must try) Chicken Katsu. Speaking of curries, I’d also consider their Thai Green Curry, it shames many Thai restaurants. Oh, and their spring rolls just may be the best I have had in my life. I mean it. They’re crazy good.
Another Nara strength is its bar…and amazing bartender (and assistant manager), Anirban. Get him to make you a whiskey sour, it’s one of the best in the business.
Drinks are reasonably priced (for Dubai) and there’s always an event or happy hour to ensure you get the best mileage out of your credit card. You might want to try their recently launched, Thursday Ultimate Brunch – Choice of food and Unlimited Premium Booze (that means the good stuff) for only AED350 a pop.
Service at Nara is exceptional; friendly, pampering, accommodating and fun. This is a team which has worked with one another from the Spice & Ice days (some earlier) so they’re well-choreographed. If in doubt over anything on the menu or even what to order, trust them to do it for you.
I visit restaurants and bars almost every single day (weekends included). As a consequence, it takes a lot to wow! me these days. The service, food and bar at Nara really, really impressed me. Like Spice & Ice before it, I think this restaurant too will quickly make a name for itself. It is most definitely a restaurant and bar well worth taking a detour for.
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Xerxes physically visits each and every venue he reviews and pays full price for whatever he eats and drinks. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts or free meals in return for reviews. What you have read was not influenced in any way by the venue.
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