On a warm May day, walking along Cutting Room Square to the sound of clinking cutlery, I went to the NAM Vietnamese restaurant, which stands proudly in the very center of the district.
You are greeted by a grandiose glass door, and you are instantly immersed in the splendor of the restaurant – you are surrounded by the aromatic smell of Vietnamese spices, and sitting on the common benches, you have already completed a 12-hour flight. to the paradise of Southeast Asia, instantly transported to the streets of cities with food.
At the heart of the restaurant is the family, from the team in the kitchen to those on the floor. The founder of the restaurant, Nam Tran, learned all the culinary tricks from his mother, and, as they say, mother always knows best.
At the beginning of the year, plans were made to update the restaurant’s aging menu as it reached the point where the dishes were out of date. NAM was ready to move on to bigger and better things, deviating from mom’s recipes, but not so far as to deserve a slap in the face.
“Basically we are a family business, I got all my experience from my mom and many members of my family have also worked in the kitchen over the years,” Nam said.
“But I wanted to take a fresh look at new dishes, so when designing the menu, I decided to turn to Gary Weir. We were really good friends for many years and I knew how wonderful he was. His experience has absolutely been able to take our menu to new heights.”
Gary Weir is a well-known name in the culinary world of the Northwest. Over the years he has worked for companies such as Mission Mars and Escape to Freight Island, specializing in seasonal, unique flavor pairings, and now owns a hospitality consulting business where he helps restaurants design menus and turn dishes into worthy works of art. .
“I was really excited about working on the new NAM menu, I’ve been a huge fan of the restaurant for years, came in regularly to hang out so I was familiar with the food and knew what I wanted to do with it,” continued Gary. .
In keeping with the NAM family ethos, Gary was invited right into the house to experience authentic Vietnamese flavors and cooking methods, which became a must for his new menu design.
During his research, he tried traditional dishes and family recipes, including balut, which is the fertilized developing embryo of an egg that is boiled and eaten from the shell. The dish is very common in Southeast Asia, and while it didn’t make it to the restaurant’s final menu, the experience gave Gary the opportunity to expand his ideas, move towards less traditional cooking styles and more creativity in NAM’s kitchen.
The new menu focuses on small plates. Essentially, it’s food to share and socialize that embodies the spirit of the restaurant.
Beginning with Fried sea bream was presented to me fully formed, with head and tail intact. Some diners are sure to find this dish intimidating, but once you get into it, the flavor is enough to make you forget.
It’s garnished with a fermented tomato and anchovy dressing, a classic combo that Gary recreated with a timely fermentation process. Just one of his many specialties.
Then there is Bo Luc Lac shakes beefserved with aged beef tenderloin, sesame-soy marinade, and pepper-lime watercress salad – the meat is tender and refreshing, which is usually difficult to achieve with a red meat-based dish, but it is also one of Nam and Gary’s favorites.
“The first time I cooked Shaking Beef, I was really nervous because it’s such a traditional Vietnamese dish,” Gary explained. “I thought I was definitely going to get criticized for fiddling with this, but Us and his family really enjoyed it, which was very helpful.”
The new menu features a variety of fish dishes, as well as affordable small and large plates for vegetarians and vegans, including Vietnamese curry with king oyster mushrooms. A spicy yellow curry made with lemongrass, garlic and onions, all stewed. with root vegetables in a thick coconut milk broth, served with rice. It’s a fragrant flavor color – a must try for any plant-based dish – as is Pan Freed Pak Choi as well as Mushroom Bao Buns.
In addition to a selection of vegan options, NAM’s new menu also boasts some brand new dishes. Chicken wings. This recipe shows that a once-average plate guarantees a dose of Gary’s genius, as they’ve been topped with caramel ginger frosting. Some people might say it’s easy, and they might be right, but in this case, less is better, especially if you’re looking for truly authentic street food.
The dish I was surprised to see on the menu also takes center stage. it Steamed clams Saigon style dressed with green onions, peanuts, turmeric and lime. Turmeric leads the way, creating an almost smoky flavor along with rich seafood depth, an ode to authentic Vietnamese seafood cuisine that also echoes great taste. Lollipops with king prawns.
The lollipops are shredded king prawns mixed with Asian herbs and bonito flakes served with homemade sweet chili sauce. They are then fried to form a crispy crust as delicious as the first bite of an Italian arancini, round balls filled with flavor.
“The new menu is, in fact, modern Western cuisine, transferred mainly to the environment of Southeast Asia. We are a family business, so I think in the past we were all a little nervous about fiddling with traditional recipes too much,” Nam concluded.
“The fermentation, marinating and even some of the cooking techniques that Gary brought to the table were fantastic and it was a great experience for me and my team.”
The new NAM menu is now available. The restaurant is open Monday to Thursday from 12:00 to 23:00, Friday from 12:00 to 00:00, Saturday from 11:00 to 00:00 and Sunday from 12:00 to 23:00. Book your table now using the link below!
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