Check out the newly opened and highly anticipated Thai restaurant, Apinara
If you’ve been to Pacific Place recently, you’ll notice there are new restos poppin’ up left, right and centre. One of which is the newest Thai restaurant in town, Apinara. Founder, Pearl Shek had grown up visiting her grandfather in Bangkok and some of her fondest memories there was sharing a meal with them at Nara Thai Cuisine. Apinara is her personal ode to the famed restaurant in Bangkok as well as their first franchise outside of Thailand. With the official launch underway, we were lucky enough to sample some of their signature dishes, cocktails and also get a shoulder massage (yes, you heard us correctly!) in their chic and welcoming new space. With our love for Thai cuisine and the cheeky perk of a neck and shoulder massage, you can bet we’ll be back!
We arrived at Apinara and were greeted by warm faces that lead us straight to the open concept bar. The entire space was decked out in black and gold which gave off a luxurious and sophisticated vibe. We sat by the bar where patrons milled about and friendly bar tenders served drinks – there was definitely a buzz of excitement as we all awaited to be seated. The gorgeous tiled walls, dark marble tables, custom-made hanging Thai fans and the floral arrangements (made by owner, Pearl) gave off such a bespoke and personal touch. You could definitely sense they gave much thought and heart to the layout and design of the space.
It was lunch time on a Friday when we attended so we were pretty much ready for a drink after a long week (it’s wine ‘o clock somewhere in the world, right?). As we waited for our cocktails, a massage therapist came over and to our pleasant surprise offered us a 10 minute neck and shoulder massage to which we became instantly relaxed. Talk about #TGIF!
And if we thought that experience couldn’t be topped, our server came over and placed this beautiful concoction down and said, “Are you tired, honey?” … how did this intuitive waitress know?! She then clarified that this was actually the name of the drink! The Are You Tired, Honey? ($78) is their signature cocktail only offered in Hong Kong which consists of Mekhong, lime juice, honey, cinnamon syrup and mint leaves which was delightfully refreshing and sweet. Served in a glass tumbler with mint leaves and a cinnamon stick along with a paper fish, this insta-worthy cocktail was the perfect start to our lunch.
After being seated, we began with three of their signature appetisers. First up was the classic Shrimp Carpaccio with a Lime Chilli dressing. We’ll be the first to admit that we prefer other types of raw seafood, but when we were told that they only use the freshest sashimi grade shrimp we knew we had to try it out. The texture was extremely buttery and smooth with the thinly sliced garlic and chilli to cut through the decadent bite. It was delicious. Next up was the North Eastern Pork Balls served with with a spicy and tangy chilli sauce. This was a favourite of ours as the crunch from the outside crust and tenderness of the meatballs was nicely balanced with the fresh lettuce leaves which we were told to wrap them in. Our last appetiser was the Green Papaya salad, a nice staple and classic to round things out for the first part of the meal.
The soup arrived next, aromatic and pipping hot (as soup should be). Apinara makes their Tom Yum Kung with their own home-made seafood broth, consisting of fresh prawns, and plenty of thai spices and herbs. Trust us, mamas, the ready made seafood paste will never compare. The kick of spice, and strong scent of lemongrass were perfect compliments to the gentle coconut flavour and massive king prawns.
For our mains, we were thoroughly spoilt with a gorgeous Yellow Soft-shell Crab Curry, which was a great alternative for people who can’t quite handle the spice. This was, without a doubt, one of our favourite dishes. With truly unique flavours and a rich consistency, the curry was paired with a generous helping of crispy soft shell crab. A great mix of textures to add to the rice options…
With white rice, and bright blue butterfly-pea rice, we almost didn’t have a chance to indulge in the Tom Yum Prawns Fried Rice. Made with the same broth as the soup, it’s safe to say, we’d recommend ordering this!
Now, we couldn’t leave without sampling the Prawn Pad Thai. Especially when the Apinara version is known as the ‘Pad Thai Diet’, made with shredded papaya instead of noodles. Aiming for a calorie-friendly option, this is one “diet” we have no reluctance trying. We’re thrilled to tell you, this healthier option tastes exactly the same as regular pad thai (if they hadn’t told us, we wouldn’t have known any different), and it’s also offered on their set lunch.
We were too full for dessert until we heard the magical words: “mango sticky rice”. If you’ve ever tried (and fallen in love with…) local, mango sticky rice made right in front of you from Thailand, you can trust that this place will keep your palette pleased. On top of that, we helped ourselves to creamy coconut ice-cream and shaved ice. The copious amount of toppings would have been overwhelming, if we hadn’t been so keen to sample it all. From salty roasted peanuts to sweet nata de coco, there’s something to keep every member of the family coming back for second (and third) helpings!
Thai food is, without a doubt, one of our favourite cuisines, so Apinara was a true treat for us. Each and every dish offered something worth complimenting, so you can be sure that the authentic thai flavours and fun twists will leave you completely satisfied. The service was attentive, in a homely and inviting way – which is exactly what you want when you’re eating out!
Oh, and the happy hour runs from 4 to 7pm everyday (with a 10-minute neck-and-shoulder massage service available from 5 to 7pm, if you spend $300) – and it’s not to be missed, mamas. If you’re heading over with the whole family, the kids meals are sure to fill up even the fussiest of eaters and the adult-sized lunch set is as generous as it is gorgeous.
Combining top tier contemporary thai food, reasonable prices, and the comfort of Pacific Place, you can bet that we will be back at Apinara as soon as we can!
Apinara, Shop no. 205 level 2, Pacific Place Mall, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong
Kat & Tania