Pearl Shek's brand-new Thai restaurant at Pacific Place delivers a colourful array of dishes packed with herbs and spices
Apinara, a fresh import from Bangkok, takes up a large corner space at the Pacific Place. The large bar area is equipped with comfortable bar seats, while the spacious dining room adjacent to the bar is furnished with wood and earth tones, together with mirrors and elements of Thai culture. We suggest choosing a table near the main dining area, although the high stools in the dining room are fitting for two.
The menu presents a wide variety of Thai offerings, from an abundance of composed salads to curries and desserts. We began our meal with the signature appetizer platter, featuring pork skewers with satay sauce, deep-fried pork meatballs, pandan-wrapped chicken, and a single serving of seafood salad. We enjoy the seafood salad the most, each bite harmonising sweetness, tartness, and heat. The pandan-leaf wrapped chicken is tender and need little embellishments.
Tom Yum Kung with prawns are full of Thai herbs. The galangal stands out the most, while fish sauce helps the prawns shine through the stove-heated spicy broth. Green curry chicken is a let down, as it was a little too mild for our taste and the chicken was slightly overcooked, but the soft shell crab with yellow curry makes up for it—the crisp deep-fried soft shell crab tops a creamy curry sauce with scrambled eggs and fresh Chinese celery and scallions. Steamed rice is a popular accompaniment to curries, but we prefer the rice noodles with prawns and roe sauce, where the fat noodles are quickly tossed in the wok with a briny umami from the prawns and their roe, dressing the thin rice noodles, which are best eaten hot.
Durian lovers will find comfort in Apinara’s coconut ice cream with durian, where the pungent fruit is pureed and whipped into a thick cream. The mango sticky rice with coconut milk is a Thai staple, although the mango was too tart.
Unlike most restaurants where wine by the glass options are at the front of the beverage menu. Apinara takes pride in its cocktail offerings, with colourful cocktails with a Thai twist. The theatrical show-stopping entrance of Siam Myth involves misty dry ice, while the tipple consists of vodka, pineapple juice, lime juice and Thai herbs including chillies and lemongrass. The Apinara cocktail marries a fruity selection of pineapple, lime and zesty ginger, offset by the honey notes of Mekhong whisky and a delightful sweetness from the cinnamon syrup.
Making reservations at Apinara can be tricky as the staff are not often available to pick up the call. We suggest sending a message via the restaurant’s Facebook group, where they usually respond within the hour. Service at Apinara is friendly and attentive. The staff are well-versed in the restaurant’s menu offerings, particularly keen on matching the establishment’s signature cocktails with food. Service seems a little slow when the restaurant is full.
A full sharing dinner for two cocktails amounts to HK$1,120. Apinara offers good value to authentic Thai offerings, though some can be more attuned to local palates. The restaurant, however, will surely be a favourite for after work drinks and a light bite.
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