Overall Score 8/10
Nara Japanese A La Carte and Buffet Restaurant on BuMRes.com (For more pictures and menu)
There are all kinds of Japanese restaurants in the Bangkok; specialized, budgeted, luxury, and a la carte buffet. The last one seems to be more and more popular. A few other places that I could think of would be the Takumi @ Swissotel, Tohkai @ Sukhumvit, and Kuroda @ RCA. The Nara that I am reviewing today is a newer one and they are coming strong with the good quality buffet at bargain prices.
The Nara Japanese restaurant is located on the 3rd floor of the United Center building, next to the Bangkok Bank HQ. There are a few restaurants in this building but not as many as the Silom complex. The size of this restaurant is overwhelming, each booth seat is separated by partition for privacy. The decor is simple and clean cut. It sort of express an image of being a franchise. Supposedly they are trying to be within near future.
The menu selection of the Nara Japanese restaurant is standard, similar to the two market brands we see everywhere these days. There are sushi, sashimi, shabu, rice bowls, etc. You won't find traditional or rare menu here. Prices for the A la carte are considered quite cheap, averaged around 200 Baht, possibly cheaper than the two big brands. Friendly prices are for attracting the office crowd in the area, I guess.
The buffet price is 585 included vat and service charge already. You can choose to have over 100 items in the menu. When the restaurant first opened with the buffet, there was some problem with the inadequate amount of personnel, so they stopped the buffet for a short while but now they are back in business offer the all you can eat as well as the regular a la carte menu.
Pork Shabu Shabu (A la carte price is 160 Baht) - the portion is a bit larger than what you would expect in a buffet. The taste is standard, good broth, fresh vegetables, and good amount of pork. I suggest to come with many friends to share the large portion of this shabu.
Next up was the Kani Yum Salad (150 Baht). The presentation was basic with the green mix and the Kani on top and the mayonaise, looking very Japanese but the taste was totally different. Its dressing was so Thai, spicy and sour. To me, it was just alright because I never fancy the salad, yum style. My friends liked it. They said is more delicious than typical Japanese dressing. Personally I prefer sesame dressing.
The third dies was the Katsu Curry (219 Baht). If you chose to go for the buffet and you order this dish, this might be your one and only buffet menu because of its size. The taste of the curry is standard, not distinctively tasty but in general, it's definitely a fair choice.
The fourth dish was the Nara Special Roll (220 Baht). A variety of fish came within this roll. As I could see, we have sea bass, salmon, saba, spanish mackeral, and some kind of white fish. I ordered this one as a la carte, so I am not sure how this dish would come out for buffet. This dish could make the Nara Japanese restaurant the best buffet, if it comes like this. Full points for presentation and it is also fresh and tasty. Nicely rolled with good contexts; rice, fish, kani, asparagus. Well deserved to have the name Nara Special Roll.
The last dish was the Nara Special Set (359 Baht). For many people coming to the Buffet Japanese restaurant, the Sushi would be what they want most because of its value. Just about two sets of this sushi would be enough to make your buffet price well spent. The sushi is looking great, good size roll. The sushi chef surely put a good effort in making this dish. The fish was really fresh and tasty, I am impressed.
So, the Nara Japanese restaurant @ United Center Building definitely did a fine job in catering the quality Japanese specialty at the most bargaining price. We can only hope that this newly shop keeps up the good work. Now that the buffet is available, I bet this place would be the heaven for many Japanese food lovers. If somebody asked me where to go for the Japanese a la carte buffet, the Nara would be the one. Check it out, let me know how they are with their buffet choices.
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