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!
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.
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 :)
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 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.
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,
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