nari’s

This is the second in a semi-regular series in which I spotlight the cafes, bars, and restaurants I love in Dili. Here’s the first, about Palapaso’s unassuming Bangladeshi restaurant: Queen Tundriee. Tonight, we’re going to Nari’s.

Nari’s is so good Felix and I tried to go there for dinner twice while they were closed over Christmas, and only thought at that point to check when they’d re-open, or we’d have tried a third time. We were there on Tuesday; their first night back open. The carpark was full and it was as good as ever.

Nari’s is an elegant, sophisticated, nice-dinner restaurant that isn’t as expensive as the nicer places in Metiaut. (I said to Felix on Tuesday, “name a better ten-dollar dinner in Dili”, and he couldn’t.)

It’s an open-air, roomy restaurant perched atop a Korean supermarket, with a giant fiddle leaf shading the garden and a view to the sunset over Pantai Kelapa. Service is lovely — polite, attentive, helpful — and the food is genuinely some of the best I’ve eaten, anywhere, ever, let alone just in Dili. Fresh, simple, refined; good clever food that makes use of the fresh produce available in Dili without just throwing lettuce and tomato over everything, and using enough imported items to taste different and elevated and authentic (although we could probably do without the Korean bottled water.)

I find it very easy to order as a vegetarian at Nari’s. I’ve raved before about their tofu salad, and thought I’d order that on this trip, but I was hungry for more than a salad and this cold-noodle dish I’ve forgotten the name of caught my eye instead. Nicely spicy, warm but not fiery, with a hint of sweetness in the sauce and slivers of stir-fried vegetables tangled through plump little rice noodles. I’d order it, or the tofu salad, or the tofu stew, or the hand-folded tofu dumplings, again and again.

Felix has an unbelievable time as a meat-eater — Nari’s has a large and meat-heavy menu, with imported meats of admittedly very good quality (its chicken, for example, comes from Brazil — not from the dusty cock-fighting yards of Fatuhada, or the pens of Railaco). His go-to is the bulgogi pictured above, eaten with red rich and banchan.

We drank sweet soju with dinner, but there’s also well-priced wine and a range of spirits. Glasses, plates and cutlery are all heavy and elegant — one of the small but noticeable touches that elevates Nari’s above other beachfront restaurants. My single, sole critique is that the fluorescent lights are bright and unappealing — but that’s a detail that reminds me I’m eating beautiful Korean food in Dili, not anywhere else.

Visit Nari’s

Map

Nari’s on Google Maps

Landmark

Nari’s is very close to Centro Supermarkets and Letefoho Specialty Coffee — it’s maybe 200m inland, down the road behind the big green doctor’s clinic, on the right-hand side of the street.

Phone

+670 7847 6019 or +670 7301 6484

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