Nohra Thai Kitchen offers tantalizing tastes and great service in Oak Bay’s Estevan Village. Courtesy Nohra Thai Kitchen

ALLAN REID: A good time for Thai in Estevan Village

Plenty of pride on display, from food to hospitality, at Norah Thai Kitchen

I love Victoria’s various villages: James Bay, Cook Street Village, Fernwood, Cadboro Bay, Oak Bay Village are just a few. A favourite is tiny, overflowing, Estevan Village in the heart of Oak Bay near Willow’s Beach.

A single block boasts shops offering fashion, decor, gifts, flowers and a handful of restaurants, and true to Oak Bay’s reputation, these establishments offer a level of sophistication, modestly presented, that is a little above the norm.

At Norha Thai Kitchen, an intricate Thai crown of woven gold and silver threads and ruby accents captures the attention. It sits atop a gleaming rod in the centre of an empty circle through which the main dining room in austerer gold and white can be seen.

Allan Reid, Monday Magazine restaurant reviewer

We were seated at a window street in the smaller dining room, near the bar where tables a bit cozier. We started with wine. Now, I find that wine lists at most Thai restaurants are an afterthought. Cheap to mediocre wines offered only because someone is bound to ask. Not so at Nohra, where a variety of BC wines have been carefully selected by chef Phen Bryan to pair well with her culinary creations.

A Wild Goose Pinot Gris ($9 for six oz.) started our adventure. Dry, well balanced and tasting of pears and peaches, this Okanagan Falls wine paired well with an appetizer of spring rolls (Por Pia Tod: $10): Four thick flaxen fingers served with a golden sweet chili plum sauce and a tangle of lacy carrot. Delicious.

For my main, I ordered the Kua-Kling (Turmeric Chicken: $22). The plate contrasts Nohra’s austere elegance, spilling over with hummocks of vivid vegetables, served raw but artfully cut – julienned beets, ribbons of carrot, shredded lettuce and fresh-flavoured sprouted peas – that outshine the whitish mound of shredded chicken on a bed of banana leaves. But the chicken, ordered at medium heat, sparkles with tantalizing spices and exotic flavours. A woven sleeve of sticky rice and an exquisite side of roti, elastic and buttery, accompany the meal.

Two friends ordered Green Curry ($15), which is served in elegant Jingdezhen pottery. Blue and white; footed and lidded. Coconut rice ($4) is served in a matching, lidded dish. My friends raved about the fresh flavours and intricate spices.

Our fourth ordered Chicken Pad Thai ($14), which was absolutely delicious but a little spicy, considering he had asked for no spice at all. After apologies, he was offered a fresh new meal made without the spice. He declined, explaining that though his lips were on fire, he’d been unable to resist the fabulous flavours and it would be inappropriate for him to accept a second meal, having finished the first. But a few moments later, a golden to-go box arrived, followed by chef Phen Bryan, still in her apron, to apologize in person, and to thank us for coming.

Phen is a pleasure at the table. She is a proud, eager owner, dedicated to her native cuisine and an accomplished people-person happy to share a laugh with her customers.

Nohra Thai Kitchen

2524 Estevan Ave. 250-595-7868

nohrathai.com

*****

Also by Allan Reid:

Authentic Mexican molé hits the spot

Paul’s undergoes a culinary face lift

Taking you back to Trinidad

Local vegan restaurant a nice surprise for omnivores

Restaurant review

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Newly public Emily Carr painting depicts well-known Victoria view

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Jen Hodge conducts an online concert during the pandemic after returning to B.C. from New York City. Photo courtesy Claudia Nobauer
Canada Recovery Benefit won’t replace the magic of live performance, musicians say

Cash will help, but its the audience connection that most performers miss — and crave

Mary Fox’s new book My Life as a Potter is available at bookstores nationwide. (Cole Schisler photo)
My Life as a Potter raises funds for Mary Fox Legacy Project

Acclaimed Vancouver Island potter’s story raising money for developing artists

Premier John Horgan and Rob Douglas, BC NDP candidate for Cowichan Valley, meet with Cowichan First Nation elders, as they demonstrate spearfishing along the river. (Submitted)
Horgan acknowledges A&E sector hit hard by COVID-19, but showing signs of recovery

Hollywood North doing better than Hollywood South, Horgan says

The iconic and well-loved live music venue Logan’s is permanently closing its doors due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Google Maps)
Victoria pub Logan’s permanently closing its doors

Live music venue unable to weather COVID-19 storm

A group gathers for a guided story walk at the Comox Valley Art Gallery plaza. Scott Stanfield photo
Comox Valley arts-based project takes honest look at overdose crisis

Walking tour aimed and raising awareness and sparking change

Nanaimo bluesman David Gogo releases his new single, Christine, on Oct. 30. (Photo courtesy Andrew Dodd)
Island bluesman David Gogo evokes return to good times with new single

Upcoming release ‘Christine’ among a dozen new songs written during pandemic

Online reservation service, First Table, allows Victoria diners to have dinner at half-price if they’re willing to be flexible about when they go. (Black Press Media file photo)
New reservation service allows Victoria residents to dine out at half price

First Table gives Victoria diners 50 per cent off when they book tables during off-peak hours

Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann will play the same piano at the Port Theatre on Nov. 1. (Photo courtesy Best Days Ever Photography)
Piano duo perform on one piano in Nanaimo return to live performance

Marcel and Elizabeth Bergmann present first live, in-person concert since March

Leaking Time by Oak Bay resident Ilka Bauer is the winning entry of the Federation of Canadian Artist’s “Crisis” exhibition on now in Vancouver. (Ilka Bauer Image)
Oak Bay artist wins juried show in Vancouver

Pair of Oak Bay artists part of ‘Crisis’ exhibition

Can you spot all 12 Days of Christmas displays at the Butchart Gardens? Jen Blyth photo.
The magic of Christmas returns to the Butchart Gardens

Some events cancelled due to COVID-10 but 12 Days of Christmas will brighten the season

Gatineau artist Michèle Provost visits the Malaspina Galleries during her artist residency on Gabriola Island. (Photo supplied)
Gatineau artist the first to take part in new Gabriola Island artist residency

Michèle Provost to create art book reflecting on the positives of aging

Most Read