Here for #28: NamNam Noodle Bar at Raffles City

28 10 2014

I NEED a really good lemon sorbet at this point, before I talk about the next ramen place on my quest.  That or a seat at the bar – right in front of the cooks – at NamNam Noodle Bar at Raffles City Shopping Centre, #B1-46/47, 252 North Bridge Road, Singapore 179103.

They can try but they can't take noodles away from me.  Haha!  This is NamNam Noodle Bar's “Phở Beef Steak Slices” (S$ 8.90).

They can try but they can’t take noodles away from me. Haha! This is NamNam Noodle Bar’s “Phở Beef Steak Slices” (S$ 8.90).

I can read the thought bubble above your head, “It is still noodles.”  Yes, but it is definitely a flavor 3368 km West Southwest of Japan.

I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to Vietnam.  Thankfully, its flavors are no stranger to me.  Unlike that of the Philippines’ (so far… it’ll change soon enough), the fate of Vietnamese cuisine isn’t one that has sent it to oblivion.  Rather, to me it stands proud as one of the more definitive Asian cuisines.

And wherever I go, I’d manage to find a Vietnamese place that captivates my palate – then my heart –   be in Folsom (California), Burlingame (California), Chicago, Boise, and of course, Manila.

I start with my Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) of choice (S$ 6.90).  On to the inside of a crusty–outside–airy–inside single–serve French baguette, I asked for cold cuts, caramelized five–spice pork belly, and chicken floss, smothered with their regular fixings pork pâté, mayonnaise, hot chilli peppers, pickled carrots, daikon radish, cucumber and lots of fresh cilantro.

My Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) of choice (S$ 6.90) – cold cuts, caramelized five–spice pork belly, and chicken floss, smothered with pork pâté, mayonnaise, hot chilli peppers, pickled carrots, daikon radish, cucumber and lots of fresh cilantro, in a French baguette.

My Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) of choice (S$ 6.90) – cold cuts, caramelized five–spice pork belly, and chicken floss, smothered with pork pâté, mayonnaise, hot chilli peppers, pickled carrots, daikon radish, cucumber and lots of fresh cilantro, in a French baguette.

 

NamNam Noodle Bar prides itself for bringing in the taste of authentic Vietnamese street food.  When the Banh Mi came in on this newspaper-print paper, in a wicker basket, I see the effort.  If it were brought to me by a waiter on a high-speed motorbike, that would've hit it our of the ball park.

NamNam Noodle Bar prides itself for bringing in the taste of authentic Vietnamese street food. When the Banh Mi came in on this newspaper-print paper, in a wicker basket, I see the effort. If it were brought to me by a waiter on a high-speed motorbike, that would’ve hit it our of the ball park.

The flavors going into the sandwich are quite traditional but what sold me to this savoury combination is the five–spice powder (star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Szechuan peppercorns, and fennel) that I highly suspect is used as a dry rub on the pork belly before it is either slow–roasted in the oven or braised on the stovetop to caramelized perfection.  It becomes fork tender and is the succulent star of this delectable, edible colonial influence.  In between bites, I’d sip my iced Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk (S$ 2.60).

I meant this pit stop as a respite from ramen – or, noodles in general.  So I thought all I needed was to finish my Bahn Mi and ignore the call of freshly cooked rice noodles in a broth that is equal parts rich– and clean–tasting, the layers of flavors mirrored by the layers of textures as thinly sliced white onions and a bunch of fresh herbs give off their crunch as your chewing finds its way to the tender beef slices.

But that wouldn’t be an eNTeNG thing to do.  Besides, I’d be totally remiss if I’d pass up on Vietnam’s ubiquitous culinary export – the Phở (or, pho).  I asked for the “Phở Beef Steak Slices” (S$ 8.90) which comes with the promise that the meat is served medium rare.  In my head, I went finger–snappin’ and head–bobbin’, almost singing, “That’s the way uh–huh uh–uh / I like it / uh–huh uh–huh, mashed up with…  “#Turnip for what?!”  Haha!

I squeezed the lime wedge into the broth, took a sip, closed my eyes, and savored the goodness.  I opened my eyes and knew that the world is as it should be.  Or maybe not.

I realized I should at least be wearing a nón lá – or be on a street somewhere in Hanoi – to be enjoying food this good.

Seated by the bar, I had a full view of how my steaming hot bowl of “Phở Beef Steak Slices” was prepared.

Seated by the bar, I had a full view of how my steaming hot bowl of “Phở Beef Steak Slices” was prepared.

 

I had my eye on the beef the whole time.

I had my eye on the beef the whole time.

 

I'm amazed at how much work is needed to fill a large pan like this with really thinly sliced onions and herbs.  I just had to pile a lot of this into my “Phở Beef Steak Slices”!

I’m amazed at how much work is needed to fill a large pan like this with really thinly sliced onions and herbs. I just had to pile a lot of this into my “Phở Beef Steak Slices”!

 

I love the rustic feel this metal cup brings to the table.  And the fact that it holds the order slip, which I do intend to go through completely soon enough.  Check away!

I love the rustic feel this metal cup brings to the table. And the fact that it holds the order slip, which I do intend to go through completely soon enough. Check away!

 

The “Phở Beef Steak Slices” bowl makes it to the table!  The beef steak slices are medium rare as promised!

The “Phở Beef Steak Slices” bowl makes it to the table! The beef steak slices are medium rare as promised!

 

I asked a little fresh cilantro on the side from the young chef and this was how much he gave me!

I asked a little fresh cilantro on the side from the young chef and this was how much he gave me!

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





The heat is on in Saigon

7 04 2014

 

FOR A place with stark interiors, the menu at Dong Khanh Vietnamese Restaurant was daunting.  But just like what The Library of Babel T-Shirt says, “You can’t rule the world if you can’t decide what to order.”  So, armed with my own resolve to rule my own world, I zoomed into the taste of the familiar that seemed buried beneath an array of lunch specials and enticing combo options.

My Pho Beef at Dong Khanh Vietnamese Restaurant on Broadway in Boise, Idaho.  It is now my "usual".

My Pho Beef at Dong Khanh Vietnamese Restaurant on Broadway in Boise, Idaho. It is now my “usual”.

In a seeming defiance towards the tastes of my Compadre Dennis dL and Cher Hong, Yulia, and Victor who all asked for the humongous Spicy Chicken (or Beef) lunch plates, I asked for the Pho Beef – a huge bowl of thin glass noodles swimming in flavorful broth, served with a side of bean sprouts, sweet basil, slivers of jalapeno peppers and a wedge of lime.

The size of greens that add new layers of texture and flavor to the soup.  Staring at these make me feel like I had already made penance for all the fat I had consumed.

The size of greens that add new layers of texture and flavor to the soup. Staring at these make me feel like I had already made penance for all the fat I had consumed.

The self-proclaimed expert in me – on anything noodles – sees the beauty of Vietnamese cuisine, the pho in particular, in its simple, clean flavors that allow itself to be customized to one’s taste.  And this is achieved exactly with the medley of the sides it is served with.  Dump the bean sprouts in and a new layer of texture (crunch) is instantly added.  Tear the basil leaves to perfume the already restorative broth.  Wake up your senses with the interplay of chili and lime.

The popular – and ginormous – Spicy Chicken plate!

The popular – and ginormous – Spicy Chicken plate!

But Dong Khanh makes the best pho this side of Mountain Time zone because they start with arguably the cleanest, most flavorful broth I have ever tasted in the States.  And when I come to think of it, I would say even in the Philippines and Singapore.

Linda, who attended to us, was the most convivial of servers I have encountered of late.  She was quite attentive without being overbearing.  She told me they don’t have fresh lemonade on their drink menu but with a smile said that she won’t mind giving me iced water and slices of fresh lemons if I’d consider it.  I’ve often been told that if the food sucks, the service would be impeccable.  I have held that as absolute truth.

Well, Dong Khanh disproves that absolutely.

Compadreng dL™©, Cher Hong, Victor, Yulia, and, eNTeNG.

Compadreng dL™©, Cher Hong, Victor, Yulia, and, eNTeNG.

 

Dong Khanh Vietnamese Restaurant

Address: 2137 S Broadway Ave, Boise, ID 83706

Phone: +1 (208) 345-0980

Hours: 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM, 4:30 PM – 10:00 PM

 

 

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.