eat here: nam, nyc

dinner at nam Sometimes I shudder to think about the days when all I subsisted on was Lean Cuisine frozen meals. The nuclear cheese, the plastic film that would sometimes cling to the gummy chicken, the limp vegetables — it would take me years to fully appreciate and fall in love with multi-cultural, wholesome cuisine. I’ve been eating clean since 2004, and have replaced the pre-packaged, processed foodstuffs with a culinary journey across skies and seas.

This weekend I had the pleasure of dining at NAM: Food of Vietnam in New York’s Tribeca district. From the minimalist decor (framed photos in sepia of families in Vietnam are the primary interior focal points) to the ambient lighting and refined linens, you can tell the spare, elegant decor was merely a white dish to which delectable eats could be showcased.

We were seven and starved. Since many of us are good friends plate-sharing was naturally required. I sampled on the beef spareribs, and feasted on the herbed salad (the fresh mint and cilantro were a welcomed surprise from the requisite mixed greens). I found the crispy lemongrass tofu to be tender on the inside and caramelized to perfection on the outside. I sometimes loathe when chefs try to mask tofu as chicken or drown the dish in heavy sauces rather than allow simple flavors to take stage.

And while the girls feasted on noodles, duck, and fish, I settled on the rice noodles and grilled chicken nestled in broth and salad. And people, I NEARLY CRIED. The food was THAT GOOD. I couldn’t stop eating.

What I loved most about NAM were the subtle texture and flavor plays on dishes that were simple yet remarkable. I tend to believe that the best food is made from the simplest and most flavorful ingredients. Although I consumed nearly everything in sight, I didn’t experience that stuffed, lather-this-woman-in-Crisco-to-get-out-of-the-door, feeling.

The only minor disappointment was the dessert. I sampled a chocolate mousse flavored with Grand Marnier, and the mediocre chocolate left me a little cold. However, the host of appetizers and succulent dishes far out-shined a poor bite of mousse.

So if you’re in New York and in the market for fine Vietnamese cuisine, I highly recommend NAM.

dinner at nam
dinner at nam
Dinner at NAM

3 thoughts on “eat here: nam, nyc

  1. Good Grief!!! It makes me want to buy my airfare right now, eat at this NAM and catch Denzel Washington in “Fences” while I’m there. I’m so jealous.

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  2. Keith,

    My goodness! How are you!? Are you still editing Orchid? Hope you’re well and prospering.

    The food at NAM was out of control. I hoovered everything in sight and it was RIGHT.

    Warmly, f.

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  3. I’m doing great. Orchid has gone the way of Small Spiral Notebook although I consider my editing life on hiatus and fully intend to resurrect Orchid at some time in the future. I actually have an issue on disc ready to be printed but do not have the funds. It basically boiled down to the fact that I started running a writers group which led to running a writing conference which led to publishing Orchid which led to my becoming board president of 826michigan. Of course, I go started in all of this because I wanted to write and in the end, I was doing everything but writing. So I’ve wound down on everything although I still serve on the board of 826michigan as a regular board member. Now I’m writing and submitting again and I’m really happy with my life. I will remember this restaurant for my next visit to NYC and now I see that Henri Cartier Bresson has an exhibit at MOMA. If it’s not a traveling exhibit I may have to travel to NYC for that. I worship Cartier Bresson!

    Take care

    Keith

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