Pan Asian can be a hard act to pull off, though it doesn’t deter too many restaurants from trying. Serving good sushi, great curries, swell stir fries and a top tom yam takes a whole team of chefs and a continent of experience. Put a foot wrong or merge the menu and you can end up with culinary chaos.
Nu Asia, which recently opened next to the Al A’ali Shopping Complex in Seef in a row of stand-alone restaurants that are trying to etch out a dining scene for the area, is trying to do just that. With a menu that covers China, India, Thailand and Japan, it offers some firm favourites and a few surprises.
Cavernous and with a clear design ethic that all seems terribly ‘nu’, there’s a nod to China in the door and water feature, the textiles are Thai, while the ergonomics could be Osaka. Best of all, it is awash with light, unlike many of the island’s restaurants which seem to exude an atmosphere of the subterranean.
I started with an Asian mojito, which differs from the Cuban variety by the fact it is non-alcoholic. While it lacked the punch of the Havana Club, it cleared the palate, tuned the senses, and came within a minute of it being ordered, which spells Asian service at its best.
For an appetiser I gambled on tekka maki and ordered a crayfish salad. The tekka maki to the sushi chef is like an omelette to the French: making a good one is seen as the benchmark of distinction. The tuna was served wrapped in a leaf of Lollo Rosso, which wasn’t mentioned on the menu and was initially treated with suspicion. But the sushi was firm and the tuna tender, and could have equalled any in Tokyo. On a side note, the wasabi was pale and hard (the way it should be) and was a welcome change to the bright green mush that the Japanese reserve for export.
The crayfish salad was built as a bonsai conifer of Lollo Rosso, with warm chunks of crayfish studding the branches. Although it could have done with a slightly thicker dressing, the portion was perfect, and for the price a bargain.
As a main course, I paired hammour tandoori with vegetable fried rice. I smelt the tandoori before it hit the table sizzling, covered in a pungent herb marinade. Fish tandoori is one of my favourites, but it is rare to find it done particularly well. Nu Asia, however, have fish tandoori down to a fine art, for which I’ll definitely be back. Rice is hard to get wrong, and this one was spot on.
Pan Asian can make you a jack-of-all-trades. Get it wrong and you can find yourself adrift on a road to nowhere. Nu Asia, however, is definitely on the right track, and in Bahrain is a restaurant to be reckoned with.
The Bill (for one) Japanese crayfish salad BD2.6 Tekka maki (6pcs) BD2.2 Hammour fillet BD3.9 Vegetable fried rice BD1.9 Asian mojito BD1.8 Total (inc service/tax) BD15.8
Time Out Bahrain staffhttp://www.timeoutbahrain.com