The favourite neighborhood restaurant is often that cosy place were the food was good when it first opened and now things are not quite the same but we keep on going back because it’s familiar, we order the same dishes over and over and it’s conveniently located and priced. Nakkara, a small Thai restaurant on Beverley Blvd., squeezed between two bigger establishments, is that rare gem of a neighbourhood restaurant which is welcoming but contemporary in style, where nothing is homey and the food is well priced and downright lovely.
The room, in cool tones of blues and brown, is small and relaxing in its modern and essential simplicity. A few eastern objects reveal the origin of the cuisine. The staff is soft-spoken and essential, if such a word can be applied to the polite and discreet Thai lady who waited on my friend and I, ready to answer questions and make suggestions. The menu is fairly extensive but not necessarily filled with all the commonplace dishes one comes to expect of a Thai restaurant but, rather, as it advertises it is Thai inspired.
There was so much I wanted to order I ended up with an enormous doggie bag, a practice I used to frown upon coming from a continent where nobody would ever suggest of having the last morsels of food packed up for later consumption but that is now at the base of many of my meals. We started with the Big Surprise, a round stainless steel dish with six round indentations covered with tiny lids, each one filled with shrimp, scallop and crab meat infused in a coconut curry sauce perfumed with basil. It would be a meal in itself but it is followed by a deconstructed Chicken Larb, with the crunchy lettuce leaves standing up like soldiers, ready to be filled with the ground chicken – it’s messy but delicious. As I can’t resist anything with tamarind, I ordered Tamarind Crystal Shrimp with some Drunken Noodle – again I loved the combination of the chili, meat and basil which makes the noodle refreshing rather than simply hot – and everything balances well with the sweet and sourness of the tamarind which barely coats the perfectly fried shrimp.
On a slow night, the service was surprisingly slow – a brisk takeout business was taking place at the counter which might have slowed the tiny kitchen down. Despite bursting at the seams, I couldn’t pass up the Mango Sticky Rice which, again, came deconstructed in a square of sticky rice topped with mango and coconut sauce with slivers of sweet fresh mango served on the side.
Sometimes the kitchen tries a bit too hard in the presentation of the dishes – the food speaks for itself but how to fault the willingness to try and engage the eyes as well as the taste buds?
Nakkara on Beverly
7669 Beverly Boulevard LA 90036