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Emilia reviews an authentic Thai restaurant which always has a line!

Ross and Russel
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Nana Thai was one of the most unique dining experiences I’ve had in Melbourne. Here’s one thing I don’t want you to be deterred by; there’s likely always a line to get into Nana Thai BUT it moves quickly and there is a surprising amount of space upstairs too. 

They were initially nestled in the hidden gem of Soi 38 which is tucked under the Wilson car park between Bourke and Little Collins Street; they’re now in prime location halfway down Bourke Street.

Their journey began with the introduction of mookata, a unique Thai hotpot experience where a sizzling barbecue grill is surrounded by a fragrant soup moat. As the first of its kind in Melbourne, Nana Mookata captured the palates of not just the Thai community, but also garnered praise from all Melburnians.

Despite opening in the middle of COVID-19 in their new location, and the challenges posed by the pandemic, their vision blossomed into a bustling restaurant on Bourke Street, drawing eager crowds even during the late hours.

Open until 1am daily, Nana exudes an authentic ambiance, with Owners, Mint and Wan pride themselves on offering dishes prepared with authentic Northern Thai techniques, ensuring a taste that transports diners to the bustling streets of Thailand. From the intricately flavoured broths to the meticulous attention to detail in each dish. 

So, here’s how to Nana Thai. You line up along Bourke St, and whilst in line they’ll hand you laminated menus where you can decide what you’re having, and have your order taken before you even step foot inside. Then, as you approach the front of the line (10 mins for us on a Sunday evening) you get given your receipt and told where to head, either on the ground level or upstairs.

As I walked through the stainless steel tables and authentic red plastic stools imported from Thailand and the pallets with families seated on the ground, the walls, adorned with colourful posters and traditional décor. We were given our pork crackle that we’d ordered down stairs as we sat down. Within 2 minutes our food was piping hot and on our table. 

Keep in mind, I did say this was very authentic Thai food so if you’re used to the local takeaway near your house you can definitely still have this but choose wisely, whilst I still encourage you to try different things and flavours, if you’re not good at spice, just ask for mild. Even if you’re pretty good at spice I wouldn’t test it here. Be aware as well of the inclusion of fermented fish in a lot of menu items, if you’re up for something different, try it but if not avoid it.

I strategically decided against the hotpot so we could sample a larger portion of the menu, in order to try the soup we tried the sour and spicy pork soup which was, as the name suggests – a balance of flavours with fall apart pork ribs in.

But we started with the papaya salad with fermented fish. I will say if you’re not used to the taste of fermented fish, it is strong. We went off our servers recommendations, chinese broccoli with pork pieces, crispy chicken, beef salad, pad thai.


Ross and Russel