Thursday, September 10, 2009

Vietnamese Pho in Chinatown - Nam Son

After growing up in California and having many friends that are Vietnamese, I've grown to know what good Vietnamese food is -- and well, sorry to say -- but Nam Son was not what I had hoped for. I have to caveat that with -- I only had two dishes from its extensive menu, but those two dishes definitely did not live up to my expectations.

For those of you who rarely eat Vietnamese, one of the most traditional items to try is Pho (pronounced Fuh), which is essentially a bowl of soup noodles that can be cooked in either beef or chicken broth. If beef broth, the noodles are usually accompanied with rare flank steak, tendons, oomosa, fish balls, beef balls among other things. If chicken, then it is usually topped off with pieces of chicken breast or can also include chicken legs and other parts. If you want simpler than that, Pho can be ordered simply with only noodles and soup.

I find that the most important ingredient for this dish is the soup -- without a tasty soup this dish is a disaster. At Nam Son, I would say the soup was flavorful -- flavorful enough that the Plum sauce was not used -- but the soup was served luke-warm, which lent itself to ruining the taste of the meat for me. The meat was thicker than norm and due to the rareness of the steak, it became extremely chewy and too raw for my own taste. Usually, the soup would cook the meat for a little while longer, but because the soup was luke-warm I ended up having chewy meat. The price of Pho at Nam Son ranges from $5.25 to about $6.50, all depending on the items you include in your Pho and the size of the bowl you order (regular (aka small) or large). In an earnest attempt to try Pho in its simplest form, I ordered a regular bowl of Pho with rare flank steak for $5.50.

The second dish that people usually order in a Vietnamese restaurant is Cha Gio, or commonly known as spring rolls. This was by far the biggest disappointment. Although I am used to seeing the spring rolls fried to a crisp, these rolls appeared off somehow. After I bit into one of them, I instantly realized it was because there was barely any ingredients inside the roll. At $1.00 per spring roll, you would assume that you'd get some meat flavoring of sorts, but this, barely included any. I've definitely had better spring rolls in the city and probably for less! The dish comes in 4 rolls for $4.00 or 8 rolls for $7.50.

The decor of the restaurant seemed authentic; when you enter the restaurant, you'll notice a wall lined with photos of their dishes and as you inch in closer, you'll notice more plants and a semi-airy feeling that resembles eating in a patio... and if you're lucky, you may find remnants of someone's lunch left on the floor (hence right photo above). There is an abundance of wait staff and like any traditional Asian restaurant, your food is served quickly - good if you're in a rush to go somewhere else. The restaurant is located on Grand Street, between Bowery and Chrystie Street, a block away from the B and D train.

Overall, my visit to Nam Son may have been one of those "off days"; however, I still found it disappointing to have been served two traditional dishes not to my liking. As I mentioned before, Nam Son has an extensive menu that offers other traditional dishes such as the Bun (Vermicelli) or the Com Dia (Rice dishes) that may warrant a try -- but I would stay away from the Pho (unless served piping hot) and the Cha Gio.

Nam Son is located on 245 Grand St New York, NY 10002-4917 - (212) 966-6507 and is open Mon-Thu,Sun 10am-10pm; Fri-Sat 10:30am-10:30pm.

Tidbit: If you'd like more information on Pho and Vietnamese food, I found this interesting website called "lovingpho". Enjoy!

All photos taken with my Canon SD880 IS (still waiting for my Nikon to be returned)

1 comment:

phofever said...

We added a link to your post on Nam Son's profile page:

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