Bringing Bangkok to Oaxaca

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The warm décor in the restaurant contrasts the cool agua fresca of the day.When I visit a place, I try to get the authentic, local culinary experience whenever possible.

As such, when I was sent to review Nid Noi Nah, the new Thai restaurant in Oaxaca, my tongue was not enthusiastic.

Thai food, while similar to Chinese food in some ways, has cleaner and more balanced flavours. Owner Thomas Hearn, from England, says he and his Thai wife, Alina, created their menu from old cookbooks.

“We had a dream, even when we were living in Bangkok, that we wanted to open up a restaurant here – a Thai restaurant,” he says.

The warm décor in the restaurant contrasts the cool agua fresca of the day. Hearn says a different agua fresca is ordered every day from a local market as are many of the restaurant’s ingredients.

The first dish to come to my table is Thung Tong, or golden bags. The pork and shrimp mix, similar to what’s in a spring roll, is hand-wrapped and tied into little pouches. The accompanying sweet chili sauce is good with the deep-fried goodies.

The second dish is a popular appetizer – spring rolls. They are handmade, and taste like it. The similarity between this dish and the Thung Tong leads me to suggest that if you order more than one appetizer, choose one of these and something else to contrast.

Deep-fried mojarra, or surfperch, served with a sauce of ginger, rice vinegar, fish sauce, sugar syrup and red chili.For the main course, I was presented with a deep-fried mojarra, or surfperch, served with a sauce of ginger, rice vinegar, fish sauce, sugar syrup and red chili. It was fantastic. I could taste the freshness of the flakey fish, and the sauce was a wonderful complement with just a bit of kick.

Those who don’t eat meat aren’t ignored at Nid Noi Nah, either. Dishes like spring rolls are also available as meat-free options.

“We’ll try and accommodate any vegetarian tastes,” he says, noting there are vegetarian items on the regular menu. He adds that if the kitchen is not too busy, the chef can also take special requests.

Dessert was Ta Koh, tapioca pearls and sweet corn in a banana leaf cup. I’m not fond of corn, but the warm tapioca was a lovely finale to the meal.

Overall, I’d say my prejudices were pleasantly overturned by this restaurant. I can barely wait to return for more.

Although Nid Noi Nah costs more than the average taqueria, their prices are not steep considering the quality: $45-65 for appetizers and $60-85 for mains. It is located at Independencia 802-C, Centro Historico.

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