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Naam resides in a low-slung structure located a short walk from the rear of the Grand Lapa hotel, a rather peculiarly placed venue that also houses a gym, space, and a beautiful, timeless tropical swimming pool. The restaurant features wooden ceilings, which, at first glance, appear to have a rustic agreeability to them but coupled with the tile floors, they also exaggerate the noise level. A large central pond is set in the middle of the room, the sound of running water barely discernible above the chatter. The restaurant flanks one side of the pool, making it the perfect place to stop by for a Thai meal after a dip. The ambience is family centred, most likely due to being in the resort section of the hotel.
Diners have a choice of combining two, three or four appetisers into one platter, a good idea if you are overwhelmed by the large selection on offer. We begin with lemongrass chicken skewers, normally a dependable option, but the sprinkling of dried lemongrass on top were sharp enough to resemble splinters from the skewer itself. While the flavour of the chicken is acceptable, the meat itself is dry. Thorough chewing is in order, rendering the dish rather forgettable. We much prefer the crispy rice cakes with minced pork and shrimp; the accompanying peanut sauce is rich and full of coconut flavour, and is served piping hot. However, extra acidity and spice wouldn’t go amiss. The Thai beef salad is one of the better ones we’ve tried, and the beef tender, well apportioned and cut. Again, the spice level is pleasant - if a little underwhelming - as is the fresh lime, while raw red onions alongside the shallots would have been an excellent addition. The green papaya salad is on the sweet side, as is the accompanying grilled chicken skewer. For mains, grilled pork neck salad is not quite evenly cooked, and yet again the accompanying sauce errs on the sweet side. The signature steamed fish with Thai herbs is even more of a letdown, the herbs are overpowering, masking the delicate flavour of the otherwise adequately-cooked fish.The barbecued duck curry is more successful however; the bird itself is good quality and is served alongside a large pot of steamed rice. The curry is sweet, perhaps due to the addition of grapes alongside the lychees in the sauce. On the whole, we find the food a slightly under-seasoned, lacking the kick, balance and complexity associated with traditional Thai cuisine.
A surprisingly large selection of wines by the glass are featured, with nearly a dozen choices – unfortunately, none really stand out. Wines by the bottle fare better, ranging from MOP170 for a Portuguese vinho verde to MOP2,800 for Italian Chardonnay. The Dr. Loosen riesling is a good match with the sweeter dishes. Alternatively, opt for a Thaijito, a mojito made with Mekong whiskey - perhaps ask the staff to go easy on the sugar syrup though.
The staff at Naam are pleasant enough but service can veer towards perfunctory at times. There is a decent but not overly thorough knowledge of the menu, and the small team of staff means it can be difficult to get someone's attention when the restaurant is busy.
A filling meal for two with one glass of wine and a cocktail comes to just under MOP1,500. Granted, it is in a luxury resort, but we feel the price does not reflect the flaws in execution.