Stepping in from a blustery installment of Kensington High Street, I found myself thrown into a hazy Oriental dream. A dim-lit bar, aromatic candles and calming far eastern music – you know the type; swishing water, distant bird call – all providing atmospheric bliss as I took a seat in the cozy den of a bar at Naga Restaurant.
Hushed couples sat close in corners whilst the mixologist-on-a-mission bar tender muddled and shook his way around, with the end result one of the many delectable (and dangerously drinkable) cocktails on the menu. Yours truly recommends the Naga Fizz – a delicate, bubbly combination of Champagne and pear garnished with a strawberry or a Watermelon Martini, a drink that reigns supreme in that ‘dangerously drinkable’ category…
Food was ordered as per the chef’s recommendations, which eliminated all the laborious decision making and saved precious tasting time while promising some of the restaurant’s most popular and best-loved dishes would be sure to grace the table.
The first course produced a range of delights. My dining partner-in-crime (and fastidious vegetarian) found palatable greatness in the silken tofu, presented on small amuse bouche spoons with the most flavorsome ginger dressing, which was suitable also for my Vietnamese spring rolls to take a dip in. A refreshing salad of crisp mint, fragrant coriander and chunky grapefruit garnished our starters with a cutting freshness.
Extremely tender blackened cod came next, wrapped in the traditional style in a banana leaf; each morsel was infinitely pleasing. The vegetarian main dishes, unfortunately, were less than groundbreaking. Although deliciously executed, a vegetable variant of Singapore noodles with a side dish of pak choi felt very uninspired given the amazing silken tofu that we had to start – consequently, unanimously agreed as the highlight of the menu.
Ultimately, the restaurant demonstrated a rare versatility through the varied mood and ambience on offer. The intimate bar area is no doubt the perfect back drop to a first date while the enticing range of cocktails make for great ‘girls night out’ libations. Most importantly, the affordable menu includes all the Chinese food classics with a distinctly Vietnamese influence, meaning everyone will find something they like. And if in doubt, ask the chef to rustle up a house favourite!
Telephone: 0207 795 6060