To the window, to the walls, to the tapioca balls!

Nera Deva was another spur-of-the moment idea. Man Biscuit and I were on a journey to buy a keg. The keg store was located in Millenia, which to the unfamiliar is a portion of South Orlando that has blown up in recent times. There’s a huge Target complex surrounded by restaurants, furniture stores and pseudo-yuppies. We snagged our sweet party keg and looked around for something to munch.

Around the corner from the Wal-mart of liquor stores, there was Nera Deva Thai. It looked like any other strip-mall restaurant from the outside, but we do love Thai food and thought to give it a chance.
As we entered the building, I was surprised by the decor. You would ordinarily expect a few artifacts from the native restaurant’s homeland, maybe some table cloths and pictures of the food. This wasn’t the case. Everything was wooden. Natural wood everywhere. Our booth was wood. There were wooden crossbeams everywhere, supporting hanging flowers. There was a large, intricately carved wooden archway on the wall. You could see the dancing spirits of Thai culture, people, animals dragons and all sorts of cool stuff carved into this peice. It was pretty cool.

We sat down and looked at the large menu. There were many traditional Thai dishes, and a bunch we hadn’t heard before. This time we decided to choose only from the appetizer menu, in a Tapis style. We ordered four appetizers. The server brought a photo album with professional looking pictures of each of the dishes. I was getting hungry just looking at it.

The first ¬†appetizer arrived. Steamed Tapioca Dumplings. They were visually very appealing. A sea green color, dusted with sesame seeds. I grabbed my chopsticks and went to flavor country. Well, I tried to. First, let me say that I am a chopstick expert. Not for nothing, but I’ve been using chopsticks for a really long time. These tapioca balls were just a bitch to pick up. They were coated in tapioca. Wobbly, jello-jiggler-like tapioca. When I finally managed to get one into my mouth, it was pretty entertaining. The tapioca coating was thick and gummy, the interior was flavorful and overflowing with porkiness. I just picked up the next one with my fingers, which was nearly as difficult as with chopsticks. If you want to mess with your friends, buy a whole bunch of these and watch them try to get them to their mouths.

The dumplings arrived and were good. They were traditional style in a gyoza wrap and came with a teriyaki soy dipping sauce. I won’t give them points for originality, but they were acceptably tasty.

Another plate landed on he table. Fresh rolls. I know, it sounds vague, but the fresh rolls were interesting. They were essentially a small salad with a piece of shrimp, wrapped into a roll. The dipping sauce was sweet and well spiced. I feel like the lettuce and vegetables in the roll could have used a little more life. There was something missing, flavor-wise, I just can’t put my finger on it.
Lastly, there was the Thai Jerky. Super-fried strips of pork with a thick and spicy dipping sauce. I’ll say it, it was delicious. The spices were rich, the crust crunchy and he pork chewy. It did feel like jerky, but was hot and not too dry. I would love to come back and try the chicken or beef, because the pork was excellent.

We hadn’t had enough with our nibbles, so we ordered a dessert. There were a few interesting sounding dishes, but we settled on the Black Sticky Rice with Coconut and Palm Sugar Caramel Topping. The small black brick that arrived was aromatic and alluring. The sticky rice was fluffy and not too sweet. The coconut and caramel were incredibly sweet, but drizzled artfully so as not to overpower the flavor. I would definitely order it again. In fact, I might look up recipes to see if I can make my own.

So, in conclusion, the prices were fair, the variety was good. Dessert was fantastic. I recommend for anyone who is looking for a bite of Thai.

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