Nari opened six months prior to the beginning of the pandemic and I finally got to try this upscale Thai restaurant located inside the Hotel Kabuki in Japantown in San Francisco.
Coming from the same chef/owner Pim Techamuanvivit of downtown restaurant Kin Khao, Nari is the more sophisticated and refined sister with its sleek minimalistic interior and vaulted ceilings. I was actually hesitant to try Nari because my experience at Kin Khao was just okay where I found some of the dishes to be unbearably spicy and my spice tolerance is somewhat decent. However, after hearing multiple coworkers rave about it and since another friend wanted to try the restaurant, we finally decided to go.
Nari offers either an à la carte or a family-style tasting menu. While both options would have been fine with me, my group of four decided to order à la carte and share everything.
Who would have thought a savory melon salad could be SO good?! This refreshing salad was a flavor bomb with juicy pieces of green melon and watermelon, toasted coconut, fresh herbs, a hint of chili, and white soy. Definitely one of my favorite dishes of the night.
Multiple people told me that I had to get this dish and it did not disappoint. The fatty pieces of lacquered pork jowl melted in my mouth and paired perfectly with the charred squid garnished with toasted peanuts and fresh herbs. We should have gotten another order.
Another favorite of the night was this whole fried branzino fish with fragrant lemongrass, ginger, peanuts, and assorted lettuces to make your own wraps.
Thinly sliced pork chop was dressed in nam jim jaew sauce (Thai chili sauce) with a sprinkle of toasted rice powder and a plethora of fresh herbs. This was also eaten as a lettuce wrap with raw cucumbers and sticky rice and while it was delicious, it was slightly spicy for my liking. I think some sort of sweetness would have helped balance out the heat.
This wok tossed chicken was actually one of the spiciest dishes of the night but the flavor was there. Sometimes spicy dishes can be all heat with no flavor but this was delicious with a dusting of shrimp powder and razor thin strands of makrut (lime leaves).
The boys wanted to try this crispy maitake mushroom in spicy curry. Both enjoyed it but said it was slightly too spicy for their liking.
This braised lamb shank was spot on with tender meat falling off the bone. Slices of nectarines added a brightness to the overall rich dish.
Bright green mango salad helped cut through the richness of the main dishes. While this was a great dish, it didn’t compare to the melon salad earlier.
Pretty straightforward sautéed cabbage with roasted garlic. You can skip this.
On the left was the pandan parfait. Pandan, a leaf used in Southeast Asian cuisine, has notes of vanilla and coconut, and this cold creamy dessert had a pool of salted coconut cream on the bottom. The other dessert had summer berries with tapioca in a coconut broth and crushed ice. There was some sort of saltiness in the summer berry dessert that I didn’t necessarily care for but others in my group liked it.
Nari was a fun modern take on Thai cuisine where not only the food shined but they also had some innovative tropical-inspired cocktails (I didn’t try any but a friend had two and enjoyed both). Overall, my rating is an 8/10.