I read about Narai Asian Cuisine on TripAdvisor and a friend and I decided to try it this past Sunday evening. When we walked into the restaurant, the atmosphere was lively and the decor inviting. Most tables were full.
The extensive menus was interesting - but unfortunately, the bland food did not live up to expectations (or to reviews we read). The young female waitress, whose English language was limited, was unable to recommend or make suggestions about dishes.
We opted for a red curry made with coconut milk, with chicken, and specifically asked for it to be "spicy," and also a vegetable dish with garlic sauce - also spicy - accompanied by brown rice. When the curry arrived - yellow colored broth-like liquid in a small tureen - we should have asked if there was a mistake since we ordered a red curry. But we were hungry and had waited awhile for the food.
The liquid yellow "curry" was tasteless - not spicy and had no coconut milk flavor. There were a few small bamboo pieces, a couple of tiny vegetables and small bits of chicken in the "soup." Usually, curry sauces are not broth-like consistency - but are creamier - especially if made with coconut milk. In other restaurants, a chicken curry dish has a real piece of chicken or two - not tiny shreds of chicken pieces. This dish really had no flavor.
The vegetables in garlic sauce were the same: flavorless, bland quality. It seems like this restaurant boils or sautes lots of little vegetables then puts them in the various dishes on the menu. So they are not crunchy or tasty but are overcooked.
At nearby tables, the non-Asian customers seemed to all be eating similar dishes of the same bland vegetables.
What a disappointment Narai Asian cuisine turned out to be. I was very surprised that so many diners filled the place. But maybe that's because it was Olympia, WA - far from being a culinary capitol.
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