In an unassuming strip mall location sits a gem waiting for discovery. Like most of exotic Thailand, the hidden treasures are far removed from the mainstream. However, with guidance and the thrill of ancient discovery a whole new world opens.
Walking into NaraDeva is like taking a stroll through a rural Thai village. Care was taken to recreate a very humble existence. Materials used by Thai craftsmen and village people in a very common way was used in this restaurant in a very modern and exotic way. Straw, bamboo, rough cut tree branches, stone structures, sculptures all add to the very serene and peaceful calmness in a space that seemed like a distant land. The sound of tricking water bouncing off the various surfaces reminiscences of ancient Thailand. This could have easily been any of the many back street restaurants I saw on my trips to Pattaya and Phuket, Thailand during my United States Naval time, two decades ago.
Back street restaurant or not the food is definitely top notch. Special care was given to treat the ingredients with dignity. It seemed like every ingredient contributed to the taste profile and flavor of each dish. Each garnish had a function and each sauce made a significant impact to the menu item. There were not many frills on the plate that distracted from the main items. All dishes were served at the proper temperature. Cold was cold enough but not icy, hot was hot enough but not burning. The texture of every ingredient stayed true to form. Plating was an art form. The use of color coordination and aromas tantalized the senses to pure nirvana.
Grilled Skewered Pork
Skewered pork, marinated in sweet soy sauce and grated lemon grass, served with tangy cucumber dip
Sweet soy and lemon grass combines to form magic in this piece of pork. It took me back to the streets of Thailand.
Crispy, fried whole shrimp wrapped with ground pork mix, in spring roll sheet
Crispy, great crunch, tender perfectly cooked shrimp and pork. Exquisite piece of delight.
Spicy & Sour lemongrass soup (Tom Yum) with Chicken
Hot and sour broth, with tomatoes & mushrooms, flavored with aromatic herbs, lemon grass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, dried chili and lime juice.
Very few restaurants make this beautifully crafted soup from scratch. They do. This is not from a paste (add water). Very delicately flavored and balanced.
Papaya Salad with Shrimps
Shredded green papaya, pounded in spicy & sour lime juice sauce, with long beans, tomatoes and crushed peanuts.
Very fresh greens, crunchy, not mushy, excellent balance of acidity. Lots of Shrimps.
Salmon Fish Filet with Panang Curry
Sautéed in coconut curry sauce, garnished with bell pepper and shredded kaffir lime leaves.
Moist salmon in a very balanced and generously spiced curry sauce. Vegetables blanched al dente, sauce perfect thickness.
Sticky rice with fresh mango
Sweet sticky rice, steamed with coconut cream & pandan fragrance, topped with coconut cream sauce, sprinkled with sesame seeds, served with slices of fresh mango.
That mango tasted like there was a tree out back and someone just picked it. The sticky rice was heaven in a scoop. Truth be told I could go back and order just this and feel guilty.
Service in this restaurant is very cordial and efficient. There is no pushing of menu items, no upselling, just great suggestions to your palate. The server is very fluent with the menu and knows all the little intricacies that exist in preparation. His attention to detail during the meal was marvelous. He was there when you wanted him to be there and knew when to make an exit. Superb table manners. Very few Thai restaurants, for that matter restaurants on the whole, a manager comes by to check on the experience. NaraDeva’s manager/owner is very interested in sharing your dining experience. He checks up all aspects of the meal. There is a lot that can be said about touching the table with genuine hospitality. This gentleman knows how treat his guests with passion. He listens and explains without making excuses.
NaraDeva is a destination to dine. It really is a welcome change from the far too many Thai restaurants in Orlando serving the same boring menu items. This gem takes the same old and add a new, fresh, and exciting spin to the old tired worn out Thai dining scene. Welcome to Orlando. May there be more sticky rice in coconut cream!