The charm of Nam extends beyond the sensuous décor, outstanding artwork, and dramatic lighting; here the service is absolutely exquisite. Our waitress, Crystal, dressed in a traditional floor length Áo Dài, carefully explains each dish as it is presented to the table, and suggests different ways to enjoy the pleasures cooked up in Anh Hoang’s kitchen. An integral part of the Vietnamese dining experience is the use of various condiments served with each dish. The sauces, spices, peppers, and herbs are carefully selected to allow the diner to create different textures and tastes throughout the meal.
Equally important as the condiments, rice plays a major roll in most dishes in one form or another, including the beer. Beer 333 also known as Ba Ba Ba in Vietnam is a smooth refreshing rice lager. Another option is the wine selection - well thought-out and reasonably priced. Try the Hugel Gewurztraminer, or Don Miguel Gascon Malbec as both compliment this cuisine’s flavors well.
Each dish is literally a work of art. The Rice Flour Tamales are rolled and steamed in banana leaves imparting a fresh fruit-like flavor onto the minced pork, shrimp, wood-ear mushrooms that with a sprinkle of chili sauce becomes strikingly sassy. I can guarantee that there is no spring roll in the city that will make you pause in between each bite like the Seafood Net Spring Roll. Making a lettuce wrap of this crispy blend of shrimp, crab, vermicelli, and mushroom with a splash of the coconut-lime sauce is a treat not to be missed. The French influence is apparent in the thinly sliced filet mignon - Beef Carpaccio. This delight teases the palate with these lime-cured morsels of melt-in-your-mouth meat that’s topped with pickled onion, and rice paddy leaves. Don’t hesitate dipping into the richly flavored ginger-lime fish sauce – simply divine.
The Green Mango or Green Papaya salads (the skins are still green on the fruit) are a blend of crispy fruit slivers, succulent grilled shrimp, mint leaves, and roasted peanuts that’s lightly rinsed with nuoc cham. This slightly sweet fish sauce has a salty, pungent character with tart citrus overtones that imparts contrasting flavors to the sweet fruit. The contrasting flavors are even more apparent in the Lemongrass Tofu- crispy fried cubes with loads of citrusy flavors. For folks who shy away from tofu, this could be a life altering experience. If you have a craving for Pho, the national dish of Vietnam, you are in for a treat. The noodle soup has comforting, rich flavored broth with either thinly sliced beef or chicken that can be enhanced by adding a little basil, mint, lime, sriracha or hoisin sauce that’s served with this tasty dish, your choice - enjoy playing.
Of the rice plates, there are two Chilean Sea Bass offerings- can’t go wrong with either, but they are so different in their flavor profiles and presentation. The Steamed Sea Bass served in a steaming basket with banana leaves, cellophane noodles, shitake mushrooms, and ginger is lush and buttery. Whereas, the lip-smacking Clay pot Sea Bass is caramelized pieces of fish served in a sweet and spicy sauce with onions and chiles. The dish that made me gasp for a breath is the “Shaking” Filet Mignon. The ultra-tender Niman Ranch filet is carefully cut into bite size delights and quickly tossed with a garlic sauce in a wok. It’s served with a simple seasoning blend of lime, salt, and pepper, and a lime dipping sauce - don’t miss it.
After having these picture-perfect foods you just might need a pick me up, try the strong flavored, Vietnamese Coffee. The brothers, who raised the bar with sushi in ATL, didn’t miss a beat in bringing Nam to us to enjoy. The sophistication, elegance and fresh flavors are a treat to experience, and beckon a return visit to explore other foods of this culinary treasure.
LGBT FRIENDLY ***** (Fantastic Staff/ Service)
FOOD ***** (Wed. Night Prix Fixe $24.95/ Great Lunch Menu)
PRICE **** (Foods That Make You Go Wow)
AMBIENCE ***** (Simply Elegant/ Patio Dining)
DRINKS **** (Wine and Beer Only- Both Go Well with Foods)