Apinara’s tale is as much about female empowerment as it is about the celebration of Thailand’s cuisine.
‘Nara’ is Sanskrit for ‘Thai woman’ and is drawn from the name of co-founder, Narawadee Srikarnchana (nicknamed Yuki), who – together with a group of female entrepreneurs – opened Nara restaurant in Bangkok in 2003. The restaurant has since expanded to four more branches across Thailand’s capital city, grabbing the attention of Hong Kong restaurateur Pearl Shek.
While frequently visiting her grandfather in Bangkok, Pearl immersed herself in the culture and cuisine, ensuring every trip included at least one meal at Nara. Not only was Pearl captivated by the restaurant experience but upon meeting Yuki, she was instantly inspired by her ambition, generosity and warmth of spirit when it comes to delivering an unparalleled dining experience. Pearl and Yuki forged a friendship and, in 2016, they decided to open a Hong Kong branch called Apinara, which introduced a curated bar program to the dining experience.
Located in Paci c Place, Apinara features the most-loved recipes from the original restaurants, as well as a handful of dishes exclusive to Hong Kong. The menu is extensive, and guests are encouraged to begin with a cocktail before perusing the o ering. There’s the Siam Myth: a vodka base charged with plenty of chilli and lemongrass, as well as the light and refreshing Siam Rose Mojito with mint leaves and rose syrup for a lovely light-pink hue. The eye-catching presentations of the cocktails are worth a mention too,
with aesthetic touches such as a spray of indigo owers or a glass elephant gurine to accompany the Thai-inspired beverages.
As for the food, the menu weaves in and out of the traditional. Appetisers adhere to traditional recipes including the tord man kung (doughnut-shaped crispy shrimp cakes) and the prawn and barbecue pork satay. On the other side of the spectrum, a number of dishes present the more playful side of the kitchen, including the tom yum kung with prawns, fried rice and Phad Thai Diet that creatively twists the traditional pad Thai with shredded papaya in place of noodles.
All seafood and vegetables are sourced locally for optimal freshness, including the magni cent steamed sea bass, which is served sitting in a zesty, lime-scented broth. Then there’s the yellow curry prawns, which take on an intense fragrance in a curry sauce that’s avoursome with wonderfully pungent Thai spices and aromatics.
Though the restaurant is located inside a mall, the setting is far from uninspired – gold accents decorate an airy, elegant space reminiscent of a centuries-old Thai residence, with wooden ceiling fans and delicate owers arranged by Pearl herself. There’s also a large bar, which is a great place to pause for happy hour drinks. Although there’s plenty to choose from, it’s hard to go past a craft brew imported from Apinara’s spiritual home, Thailand.
Founded upon an unwavering dedication to hospitality, Apinara o ers a warm experience with an uplifting dose of female empowerment to brighten up Hong Kong’s dining scene.