Nam Nam Noodle Bar: Vietnamese Street Favs

Pho 1

The great debate over one weekend: What’s for lunch? The A-Ha! moment came, when I recalled reading about the Les Amis Group’s latest addition to the Singapore dining scene, in the form of Nam Nam Noodle Bar which serves iconic street favourites from Vietnam. It has been years since I’ve had pho (the Vietnamese dining scene in Tokyo was pretty much non-existent sadly), and I’ve enjoyed eating at the other outlets opened by the Les Amis folks (Bistro Du Vin, Au Jardin, Canele)… so off to Nam Nam to put that Vietnamese craving to rest yay!

Crowd

There was still a late lunch crowd going strong at the Nam Nam branch at Wheelock Place, but open seats came by pretty quickly. Amidst the maze of communal long tables and stools, there’s a section facing the open kitchen, where diners can peek into the making of Hanoi pho, Banh Mi, Vietnamese noodles from the South and Central and lots of other tasty street food yum yummmm.

They’ve a pretty weird order system at Nam Nam, whereby you place your orders on the paper menu, leave your table with the order sheet, and head to the counter to place and pay for your orders. Paying for my orders took quite awhile as there was only one payment counter (minutes stretch into hours when you are HANGRY grr). They should stick to getting their waiters to place the orders and bring the cheque to the table – way faster and more efficient.

Sauces

Rows of sauces were laid upon each table, and the array was mind-boggling. Everything from fish sauce to chili sauce to Maggi seasoning was there for your taking…and if you’ve a sweet tooth, help yourself to some condensed milk :)

Spring rolls

Fresh Southern rolls ($4.90): These spring rolls wrapped around sweet shrimps, egg and fresh herbs arrived clumped together, and one of the rolls’ skin had broken even before being touched. An even bigger letdown was the taste – everything from the shrimps to the herbs were far from fresh, and tasted as though they had been sitting in containers for the last few hours (which was probably the case). The dipping sauce tasted like so-so sweet peanut sauce, which you could get off any supermarket shelf.

Pho 2

Pho beef steak slices ($8.90): I was hoping for a big, hearty bowl of pho to salvage the disaster that was the Spring Rolls. The bowl of pho smelled really promising when it arrived, and the first sip of the broth tasted decent with hints of cloves and star anise. Noodles were however clumped tightly together, and no helpings of bean sprouts or fresh herbs were found. Definitely not similar to real deal pho you’d get off the streets in Vietnam!

Verdict: Nam Nam fared pretty disappointingly on the delicious and authentic scale for Vietnamese food, at rather steep prices too. Was  surprised to say the least, given the consistently good dining experience I’ve had at the other Les Amis Group outlets. Maybe I’ll check them out again just to see if their Banh Mi is any good, and hopefully it trumps the mediocre initial experience I had.

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou?

Nam Nam Noodle Bar

Raffles City Shopping Centre (nearest MRT stop: City Hall. Look for exit towards Raffles City Shopping Centre)
252 North Bridge Road,
#B1-46/47,
Raffles City Shopping Centre

Wheelock Place (nearest MRT stop: Orchard. Look for exit towards Wheelock Place)
501 Orchard Road #B2-02,
Wheelock Place, Singapore 238880

East Ocean: Dim sum treasures

Collage

Tokyo’s an amazing food paradise, but good dim sum places are a little hard to come by (Le Parc in Ebisu is pretty ok, but lacks a little of that oomph). However, at the current base in Singapore, dim sum joints are plentiful and I said yes yes yes!!! to Molly’s suggestion to dim sum at East Ocean along the  Orchard belt this weekend!

The queue at East Ocean gets pretty insane on weekends, and even those with a reservation have to wait a good amount of time for their table upon arrival! Service is horrendous here (worse than the usual mediocre service you get in Singapore restaurants), and we literally had to grab hold of someone to hand over our order sheet :(

But all was forgiven, when these bundle of steaming hot dim sum joys started to fill up the table!

Cha siu sou

Char siu sou (bbq pork pastry): The buttery pastry was baked to a crisp, golden perfection. However, the bbq pork flavours were a little too subtle and ended up being overwhelmed by the rich pastry…

Egg tart

Dan tat (egg tarts): Darn these tarts were freakin’ legit. Each bite of the golden layers of flaky pastry was complemented by not-too sweet egg custard done to wobbly perfection.

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Ham sui kok (fried crescent dumplings): So the party trick at East Ocean – their creative spin on dumplings in the shape of cute animals! The ham sui kok we ordered came in the shape of elephants, with bean sprouts for tusks and an almond sliver poking out of its mouth :) It wasn’t love at first bite however, as the dumpling’s skin was too thick and gooey and the meat filling was meh…

Lao sha bao

Lau sha bao (salted custard buns): I judge how good a lau sha bao is, depending on how the salted custard filling oozes out when the bun is bitten into..and this lau sha bao passed the test beautifully! Golden rivers of savoury custard flowed silkily out of the fluffy bun, and it was totes delicious!

Siu mai

Siu mai (pork dumplings): The siu mai was fresh, and chunks of succulent prawns were mixed into this for added juicy sweetness

Steamed radish cake

Steamed radish cake: THIS was my personal favourite! The radish cake was steamed to delicate firmness, and the strips of radish within provided a nice light crunch with each mouthful of the sweet soy sauce and chopped spring onions mmm-mmm

Yam spring rolls

Yam spring rolls: Nice crunchy addition (not too greasy) to the spread with julienned veggies and yam tucked into it.

Zha liang

Zhar leong (dough fritters wrapped in rice paper): Super stoked to see this on the menu, as not many dim sum joints serve this! This was unfortunately so-so, as the dough fritters weren’t quite crisp and left a slightly greasy aftertaste, and the rice paper wrap was a tad too thick *sadness*

Bumblebee

Bumble bee custard dumpling: Part 2 of the animal series we ordered!. This bumble bee came with strips of seaweed for stripes, almond slivers for wings, and radish bits for eyes :) The custard was a little clumpy and gooey, but ok as a sweet ending palate cleanser.

We were pretty stuffed from this dim sum feast (this was all I had for the entire day, and I’m still full!) and paid a pretty reasonable SGD 27 per person for the meal. Prices start from ~$5 for a basket of dumplings, and gets steeper for fancier morsels like dumplings in superior soup.

Next time I swing by here, I’m going to check out their Teochew dishes (cold crabs, supreme combination platter a.k.a. “Poon Choy” anybody??). Judging by the sights and smells from nearby tables devouring their dishes, they look real promising!

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou? 5th Floor of Takashimaya department store along Orchard Road

East Ocean Teochew Restaurant
391 Orchard Road
#05-08/09 Ngee Ann City
Singapore 238872