As we say goodbye to the summer I’m trying to make the last dash around a few more lunch spots serving bold, fresh flavours before its too cold and a salad is no longer going to satisfy me. Nam Nam, (guess the cuisine) these guys have gone for a tropical style design, clad with a bold coat of turquoise and rattan style lampshades. At the very least the atmosphere will make me feel like I’m in a warmer climate. Or so I thought, the inside is a little dingy, which can only be attributed to its unfortunate location at the back end of the SFC mall. The menu has a selection of dishes showcasing classic Vietnamese flavours. Think, chilli, lime, basil, coriander, fruity salads, pho and all the fried goodies. Overall the flavours were there but the dishes lacked punch.
Dishes of mention:
Papaya salad – very stingy on the prawns, dressing was lacking
Black rice avocado bowl – over seasoned
Prawn crackers – despite being morsels of everything bad for you these were rather delicious.
Overall not a terrible experience, maybe an easy place to grab a bite before you catch a movie but nothing to write home about. Having only sampled a small selection of the menu I don’t think I can fairly comment on the quality of the entire menu and I know a good pho or crispy spring roll can be a game-changer. The menu at Nam Nam offers a typical spread of Vietnamese dishes however some could do with a few tweaks to give them a much needed lift.
Price for 2: 200 RMB
Here’s the low-down on the latest action-
The Beef: This place first caught my eye with its jewel-toned turquoise façade – amongst all the greys and beiges, it looked like a summer holiday vacation I wanted to dive into. The interior is also gorgeous, a stark contrast to the “90’s décor” of the neighboring Film Art Center, splashed with their signature bright blue and a bit of industrial lighting.
Niceties aside, the million-dollar question here is…how is the pho (58RMB)? Short answer, not bad. The broth was decent, a bit on the salty side. The rice noodles were good. Side of raw sprouts and herbs, check (although on the puny side). But the long answer here – and the reason I would not come back for pho is that it’s served with beef balls and brisket. Where are my pink, tender, barely cooked pieces of raw beef?! To me, that’s a critical component of the pho experience, and cooking the meat in the soup adds some “bloody love” to the dish.
The rest of the menu is moderately-sized, featuring Vietnamese spring rolls (fresh and fried), chicken wings, shrimp cakes, stir-fried dishes, etc. The cheery yellow Vietnamese pancake (58RMB) was a bit bland and rather difficult to eat as the bean sprouts and vegetables inside were not chopped so basically had to dissect the dish to eat it – also bc the filling was stir-fried it was rather steamy/soppy and rendered the pancake a bit soggy. The stir fry rib-eye steak and mushrooms (68RMB) surpassed my expectations, generous chunks of tender beef sautéed in a teriyaki-ish sauce and topped off with fried garlic bits.
Still, overall service and experience was pleasant. Wouldn’t mind returning to try their other dishes another time.
The Gang: Mostly Chinese, smaller groups of friends and families. Despite being open for 6 months, hasn’t seemed to snag many laowai diners from the Wagas across the street.
The Motive: For a casual meal around the area. Or if you have a bit of time before catching a flick, it’s a slightly fancier spot to hang out and grab a bite.
The Damage: Around 200RMB for 2, entrees around 58RMB/68RMB.
The Down n’ Dirty: Have to go into the Shanghai Film Center – not the cleanest but decent as far as Chinese bathrooms go.
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