Carlton’s Thai-inspired degustation destination, NORA, requires guests to submit to its quirky and completely cryptic menu, producing a dining experience like no other. With flavours promising discordance but delivering perfect harmony, it’s no wonder that this pioneering venue is turning heads among Melbourne’s culinary scene.
NORA originally opened in 2014 as a cafe, serving up Thai-style breakfast and lunch from its tiny kitchen. However, soon enough, Head Chef and Co-Owner Sarin Rojanametin went looking for something more, choosing to revamp and re-open as an after dark destination. From no formal training, rather basing his experience off a stints in the kitchens of Longrain and The Commoner, Sarin has well and truly delivered, with NORA’S incredible 10- to 12-course menu showcasing the best of Thai flavours.
Now a degustation only restaurant, Nora’s intimate 20-seat space offers a thought-provoking fine dining experience. Upon first glance, the menu gives little away, with eccentrically named dishes that provide no information about the actual contents. Take the ‘Too Many Italians and Only One Asian’ for example, which plays on Nora’s location in the heart of Melbourne’s Italian sector. It combines green papaya noodles with sator pesto and fermented garlic – who’d have guessed? If you’re searching for a bit of heat, just you wait for the blue mackerel with spicy green chilli granita, watermelon and mirin, cheekily named ‘Daft Punk Is Playing in My Mouth’. Even more mysterious is ordering a portion of rice, as you’ll have to ask for the ‘4 Stages of Rice – An Ode to the Rice Farmers of Thailand’.
With a menu as intriguing as that, the drink selection had to be innovative. A selection of lip-smackingly good juices feature on the menu, enhancing the fresh Thai flavours. An array of wines is also available, carefully curated to pair with the unusual, innovative flavours of the food. Bursting with flavours and colours, the delicious drinks, alongside the beautiful artistry of Sarin’s plating, is nothing short of Insta-worthy.
A visit to NORA is about the experience. From the intimate setting, to the hugely knowledgeable and approachable staff, and, of course the food, bursting with surprising flavours, there’s no doubt the wow factor is well and truly alive at this fine dining destination.