One thing I really learned during last year’s Jay festival is just how much omni restaurants go out of their way to provide a vegetarian menu for the festival’s duration. When I decided to go to Nara, it was a treat after spending many evenings on Yaowarat in Bangkok’s Chinatown, battling the biggest queues for the greatest jay finds. I was walking miles up and down the streets every night until late, and was exhausted. All I wanted was to put on my least filthy items of clothing and enjoy a meal in the comforts of an air conditioned restaurant.

Nara Thai Kin Jay Festival Menu

Nara Thai Kin Jay Festival Menu

This proper sit down joint, on the 7th floor of Bangkok’s unmissable Central World shopping mall, offered a jay menu with prices of 100-160 baht per dish (it is worth  noting Nara marks vegetarian items on their standard menu as well). My only complaint was being too short for the table, but I am also mostly too short to reach anything. Ever.

I ordered the spicy deep fried tofu salad with mango sauce, which consisted of a bed of mildly salted deep fried tofu, mixed with some larger pieces of softer bean curd with a crispy fried exterior. The plate was topped with carrot, papaya, crispy nori, Chinese celery, and cashew nuts, and served with a thin, spicy-tangy mango sauce on the side. My wager on ingredients? Lime, mango, soy sauce, chili, and a touch of sugar.

Spicy Deep Fried Tofu Salad with Mango Sauce

Spicy Deep Fried Tofu Salad with Mango Sauce from Nara Thai Cuisine, Central World, Bangkok

All mixed together, the salad took on an incredibly fresh taste, which is such a cliché descriptor in food writing, but sometimes, especially when describing good Thai food, that’s the only way to put it. Not at all heavy, despite the proliferation of deep-fry, the dish reminded me of a modern take on som tam. What a ingenious idea to top other dishes with this classic Thai salad.

I left Nara feeling beyond satisfied, and fully intend to return upon my next visit to Thailand’s capital city. When a restaurant provides a completely jay menu, even if only during the too-short ten day Jay Festival, I trust they understand the concept well enough for me to return outside of that period and request menu alterations.


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