Thursday night was the grand opening bash at Naga Thai Kitchen and Bar, and the who's who of Dallas was out in full force for the event in Victory Park. Who are we kidding? We don't know the who's who from the who's not, but there was a red carpet and fancy photographer there to snap pictures. If the who's who was there, we should have taken more photos since most of the crowd donned balloon hats and bracelets. The scene was reminiscent of a Ringling Bros. circus as a balloon artist made fashionable accessories for the crowd and outdoor strobe lights flashed through the windows.
The evening began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony officiated by city council member Pauline Medrano, but we missed it as we were trying to navigate through rush hour traffic and street closures (compliments of the Woodall Rodgers park project).
Once we arrived and made it past the cameras and red carpet, we headed into the sleek, dark dining area. The space itself is small, but the minimalist décor makes it seem much bigger. But of course, no Victory Park restaurant is complete without trendy European light fixtures and plasma TVs in the bathrooms. Check...and check.
Naga bills itself as a traditional Thai restaurant with affordable prices, and the appetizers were what we expected from most Thai spots. Waiters passed trays of egg rolls, crab Rangoon, chicken satay, and dumplings. The crab Rangoon was a crowd pleaser. It was a fairly standard crab Rangoon, but underneath the layers of cream cheese and crab, there was a subtle hint of smokiness. The chicken satay was tender and cooked perfectly, and the chicken and shrimp dumplings were stuffed with correct proportions of both proteins. The only downside was a greasy egg roll, and overall the appetizers were solid. If the food was traditional Thai, the drinks were anything but.
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Naga boasts an extensive list of flavored mojitos, because nothing screams Thai cuisine like Cuban cocktails. The lychee rum smash mojito, a fairly standard mojito finished with a splash of lychee juice, wasn't heavy on the simple syrup and was quite refreshing. The Mekhong mai thai was a potent mix of Mekhong, orange Curacco and lime juice.
There weren't any entrees to sample, but if you have ever been to Jasmine or Nandina, then Naga's menu will be familiar. Naga is the brainchild of Nandina founder Tom Chawana, Jasmine partner Lam Promwanrat, and PR guru Jeffrey Yarbrough. Entrees include curry and noodle dishes, and all items can be made with chicken, shrimp, tofu, or veggies. The prices are more reasonable than other restaurants in the area, but then again exactly how many restaurants are left in Victory Park?