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Namo: The Chic Thai Fare
“Thai cooking is a paradox,” writes Australian restaurateur David Thompson as he goes on to explain that “Thai food uses robustly flavored ingredients–garlic, shrimp paste, chilies, lemongrass–and yet when they are melded during cooking they arrive at a sophisticated and often subtle elegance.”
Thai cuisine is among the top and fastest popularizing cuisine in the world and when my editor, Kannan Ashar, heard that Namo, a promising new Thai restaurant has opened up in the dark side, she exclaimed ‘Finally!’ excitedly and roped me in in her quest to sample the new fare.
So, there we were, on a cold, windy winter evening at the newly opened ‘Namo’, located in the TST east district of Kowloon, facing the harbor and adjacent to the popular Wooloomooloo. Though Namo doesn’t offer outdoor seating at present, they are hopeful to throw open the outdoor seating area within a couple of months time frame. The ambiance and vibe of Namo is premium, the décor is asian and not particularly Thai. Seating is well spaced out, providing adequate privacy to each table.
The restaurant is a brainchild of Michelin starred Chef Alejandro Sanchez and renowned chef Wijannarongk Kunchit. It claims to be the very first restaurant in Hong Kong to offer AVANT THAI cuisine and we were all set to figure out the ‘Avant’ in the Avant Thai experience that it promises to offer.
We chose four dishes from the starters section, balancing the traditional dishes with the more adventurous sounding ones. We started with the Garlic Prawn Fritters. This is a no brainer dish with straightforward flavours of lemongrass and garlic. It is guaranteed to taste good and yes, it does.
‘Poh Plah’ or Royal Spring Rolls tasted great too, especially when eaten with the red curry paste dip they come with.
Then, came the ‘Tuk tuk Tofu’, soft Japanese tofu with a crispy coconut coating and spicy, red chili jam. If you are a Tofu fan, like I am, you are bound to love this dish. For others, it could still be worth a try as this is a street food recipe with gourmet ingredients!
Then, came the starter which I thought was quite an adventurous dish – Moule Mariners. This is basically a bowl of Bouchot mussels steeped in chili-galangal coconut broth. I love bouchot mussels and also coconut broth individually but somehow combining the French and the Thai in this one just didn’t do it for me. It left me slightly confused and handling of small sized mussels steeped in broth was not the easiest one. Still, thumbs up for putting a brave and original dish as this on the menu.
I found the creative naming of dishes quite striking and clever. Dishes like ‘Tuk tuk tofu’, reminiscent of omnipresent tuk-tuks in Thailand, ‘Poo-khet’, ‘Thai Two way’, ‘Thai threesome’ bring in the street and colloquial flavor and to this upscale restaurant with all its internationally sourced ingredients and positioning. The dish names act as great conversation starters among guests and make the mundane process of ordering zingy.
We were quite full with those appetizers and not to forget, heady cocktails. ‘Thai Rose’ and ‘Namo Tini’ were among the ones we tried. A bit on the sweeter side, but tasted pretty good and ingredients like kaffir lime and thyme Basil lent an exotic twist to the drinks.
In the main course, Kannan went for the ‘Thai Threesome’ , eggplant stuffed with basil pesto, smoked and roasted, swimming in red curry sauce. She liked it and she generally is also a fan of eggplants.
We love our red and green curries when it comes to Thai Food. The Spring Garden Green Curry had all the lightness and taste one desires. Chicken was soft and tender in the Red Curry; fragrance of kaffir lime leaves and basil was transportive.
Though quite full, we could not end the evening before some dessert. We nibbled on the Ginger Crème Brule. Unfortunately, the ginger flavor did not work for me as a part of my sweet dish but my editor seemed to like it.
I was flying off to Phuket for a week long surge of Thai food that was to follow. So, a pretty avant way of setting the mood for the Thai holiday, don’t you think?
Do share with us what you thought of this new Thai restaurant when you pay it a visit, on the comments section below.
Namo Restaurant | G18, Empire Centre, 68 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon, Hong Kong, Tel: 2739 1133