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Narai Asian Cuisine

Fresh and flavorful, exotic fare

The Basil Stir Fry, an herbaceous delight, found at Narai. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

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ANNOUNCER: With so many places in the South Sound to get Asian food, Jackie and Dutch head south to Olympia this week to check out Narai Asian Cuisine. This family-owned business offers classes in Thai cooking, dancing and language in addition to serving up their inspired dishes. Jackie and Dutch only came for the food . . . this time.

DUTCH: From the street, Narai looks like any other Olympia hole-in-the-wall, but once through the doors you can easily see they are dedicated to their food. The menu alone is a three-ring binder that will take some time to navigate. Dishes range from soups, stir-fry and fried rice influenced from several regions in Thailand.

JACKIE: Narai really sets the tone to match their dishes. As per the norm, I started my Thai journey with a Thai iced coffee and was presented with a statuesque glass of perfectly layered coffee and condensed milk that helped fuel my perusing of the detailed menu offerings. 

DUTCH: The size of the dishes was a surprise to me, as the Pad Thai is large enough for two. Rice noodles are stir-fried with eggs, green onions, bean sprouts and Thai sauce and then topped with carrots and crumbled peanuts. There are nearly a dozen proteins to choose from including beef, tofu, seafood combo, and my favorite -- chicken. Not only is the serving size generous, but the flavors are as well, with a bit of spice and plenty of crunch from the fresh vegetables, the big pieces of chicken aren't the only thing driving this dish like so many other Pad Thai I've had in the past.

JACKIE: With a one- to four-star rating on spice, on our visit, the four-star was underwhelming heat wise but that is the only thing that disappointed. The Basil Stir Fry was a savory, herbaceous delight. Your choice of protein tossed with a flavorful garlic sauce, green and red bell peppers, onion, green beans, mushrooms and baby corn are topped with a hearty portion of wilted Thai basil. Served with a side of white or brown rice, this dish is easily shareable, especially if you opt for an appetizer to start. 

DUTCH: The pineapple fried rice is a surprise on the menu; full of flavor and ingredients, it offers a sweet and spicy option. In another huge serving, Jasmine rice is seasoned with garlic sauce and curry and then fried with pineapple, raisins, egg, onion, cashews, cilantro, cucumber and your choice of protein. The prawns are a tasty addition to flavors already dominating the dish. Switching to fresh pineapple could easily make this the signature dish of the neighborhood. 

JACKIE: I considered the pineapple fried rice but was enticed by the Pumpkin Curry instead. Tender bits of Kabocha Squash are pumpkin-esque in nature, and exactly what my palate was craving. (Can it be autumn already!) Swimming in a bowl of red curry paste and coconut milk you'll find sliced carrot, bell pepper and basil. The dish is Thai comfort food at it's finest and made for superb left overs. 

NARAI ASIAN CUISINE, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday-Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday-Friday; noon-10 p.m., Saturday; noon-9 p.m., Sunday, 320 4th Ave. E., Olympia, 360.754.1332,

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