Friday, October 28, 2011

NaraDeva Thai Restaurant in Orlando, FL

A couple weeks ago, the local food bloggers were invited to a dinner at NaraDeva Thai Restaurant in order to sample many of their delicious foods. I'm honestly not an expert on Thai food by any means, and I've actually been disappointed lately with many of the other local Thai restaurants that I've tried. Because of this, I happily accepted the offer to try NaraDeva in order to find better Thai food. They are located near the Mall of Millenia in the SuperTarget shopping center, in a space once occupied by Bear Rock Cafe.

Once I arrived at the restaurant, I quickly spotted the group of food bloggers congregating on the restaurant's patio for drinks. I tried the coconut water and Thai iced tea. The iced tea was my personal favorite of the two.

Once we were inside and seated, the feast began as plate after plate of food started arriving at the table. Appetizers came first with chicken curry puffs and chicken satay. The chicken curry puffs reminded me somewhat of Indian samosas, filled with potato and chicken. The chicken satay was served on skewers with a peanut dipping sauce.


The next plate of appetizers included shrimp rolls and steamed pork dumplings. The shrimp rolls were interesting, consisting of a whole shrimp wrapped in pork and a spring roll wrapper.

After the initial two plates of appetizers, various types of salads started arriving at the table. One of my favorites was the crunchy shrimp salad. This mixed green salad was topped with several large fried shrimp, drizzled in a creamy dressing.

Another highlight was the laab. Ground spicy pork was mixed with roasted rice, onions, shallots, dried chili and mint leaves. I had never heard of laab previously, but it was surprisingly good for something as simple as a ground meat mixed with a few other ingredients.

The spicy beef salad was topped with thinly sliced pieces of grilled steak with cucumber, tomatoes, scallions, and cilantro in a spicy & sour dressing.

Another one of my favorites was the spicy crispy duck salad. This was similar to the beef salad, only with delicious duck rather than steak. The duck was nice and tender and had a wonderful crispy outer crust. The spice wasn't that apparent at first, but the spicyness eventually culminated after a few bites.

On to the main courses, the pork fried rice was different from the typical Chinese restaurant fried rice (I'm not always a fan of Chinese fried rice). This was somewhat sweeter and had a whole lot more flavors involved. Way better than I was expecting!

I definitely wasn't expecting the beef jerky. The first thing that comes to mind when I hear beef jerky is gas station snack food that I tend to avoid. This beef jerky shared little resemblance to a a Slim Jim. The beef was crispy but was still moist. It was served alongside rice soaked in pandan sauce which was completely new to me. Bright green rice is very cool!

The prawns in tamarind sauce were served over a bed of vegetables. I love the garnishes on almost every plate. A pile of shaved carrots topped with an orchid makes always makes food more interesting!

Crispy duck in red curry sauce was another one of my favorites from the night. The duck had a nice crunchy outside and was really tender inside. Many times I've had duck where it had so much fat that it was almost too much trouble to eat. Nara

It was a while since I had soft shell crabs, so I was happy when these were delivered to the table.

The deep-fried whole snapper was very impressive. It's not very often that I get to eat from a whole fish. Figuring out how to best break into the fish to get to the meat was a little intimidating at first, but was a minor difficulty. The crispy skin of the fish was very flavorful while the inside was moist and flaky.

Just when I thought the feast would stop, desserts started coming out of the kitchen! The black sticky rice with coconut and palm sugar caramel was interesting. I've had black rice a few times before, but never as a dessert. The coconut cream sauce topping was very nice. The sticky rice with pumpkin custard was also fun. I never really thought of pumpkin as an Asian vegetable with it's association with Halloween/Thanksgiving, but why not? Pumpkin is good on everything!

The sticky rice with red beans was served wrapped in banana leaves. This was my favorite dessert of the night. Not only is unwrapping food from steamed banana leaves a whole lot of fun, it also smelled great, sort of like black tea. The rice/beans were very moist, not too sweet, but the coconut cream dipping sauce made it a dessert.

The Thai coconut custard was served in tiny ceramic cups and sort of reminded me of a coconut flavored flan.

And finally, there was the Thai doughnuts with pandan coconut custard dip. The doughnuts by themselves weren't very sweet, but they were definitely made into a dessert with the green pandan sauce.

The event was organized by NaraDeva Thai in conjunction with Traveler Foodie, and I really appreciate being invited. I was definitely not expecting the feast that I was treated to, with all of the food being some of the best Thai I've had lately in the Central Florida area. I'll definitely be back!

NaraDeva Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

TC said...

this place is awesome! i cant wait to go back!

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